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Joan H. Young
861 W. US 10
Scottville, MI 49454
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this page updated 3/15/11

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West Shore Community College

at West Shore Community College

[West Shore Community College Trails]

West Shore Community College

West Shore Community College is located in a rural setting between Manistee, Ludington and Scottville.

There is a nature trail to use any time of year. The cross-country race course is open to walkers, skiers or snowshoers when it is not being used for meets or practices. There is a recreation center with a gym, swimming pool, racquetball courts, and a Wellness Center. Fees and times apply to the indoor facility use. There is also an ice arena with open skate times every day throughout the winter months. See
Events for the schedule. Equipment rental is reasonably priced.

Pond Nature Trail

Begin hiking this loop at the picnic pavilion at the northeast corner of the small campus pond. There is parking above the area at the Rec Center, or below the pond in the Arts & Science Center parking lot.

Pass the picnic area and walk along the pond to the southeast. You will see where the trail enters the woods at a small bridge. Soon you will be following a wide dirt pathway, climbing slightly through mixed woods. At the top of the hill there is a left hand path which connects with the Cross Country Race Trail. Take the right fork. Begin dropping gently down the hill until you take an abrupt right and are back near the lake level. A bench which needs repair can be found here. A sharp left and the path continues along the shore of the pond. Near the south end of the pond the trees end and you enter open cattail marsh on a mowed path with some puncheon. Sugar Grove Road is visible ahead. Take a long bridge, turning to the right, across the south end of the pond and creek.

On the west side of the pond the trail is much less used, and is not as wide. There is an indistinct path going up the hill away from the pond, but turn right and continue along the water edge to the northwest. On this side of the pond you will cross three small bridges across intermittant streams. Come to mowed grass again, and climb to the road level to complete the loop. There is a bench in the grassy area.

Access- via any parking area on the east side of campus
Restrictions- no camping, fishing only by permit
Distance and time- about 0.6 mile, 20 minutes, to go around the pond
Trail Markers- occasional 4 x 4 posts
Condition of Marking- It might be possible to lose the path on the west side of the pond, but if you simply follow the shoreline you can't get lost.
Treadway- packed forest soil, some grassy lawn, eroded areas filled with wood chips
Grades- moderate hill on north side of lake, south side quite level
Ecosystem- small stream in small valley, beech, hemlock, grassy picnic area, cattail marsh
Other points of interest- other college facilities
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Jan 2008
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Creek Nature Trail

Begin hiking this loop on the west side of the road where it crosses the creek (at the NW end of the pond). There is parking above the area at the Rec Center, or below the pond in the Arts & Science Center parking lot. This pathway is used less and will be a bit more of a challenge, but it is interesting.

Find the boardwalk leading away from the sidewalk, and enter a grassy lawn. There is a sign saying trail that points you to angle down the gully, but this path is not maintained. Instead, walk between the gully and a building and reach a multi-level deck area in back of the former student center. These decks are in various stages of disrepair, and may have caution tapes blocking some sections of stairs. But the wooden decks and stairs down to the creek level are fine. There are 25 steps and several landings leading down to the creek.

The bridge across the creek is compromised where the bank on the west side has eroded away from the bridge. Most of the time you can easily step across the gap to get on the bridge, but in the spring this might not be possible. Climb 22 steps up away from the creek on the east side. Continue slightly uphill and then turn left (north). There is a wooden sign that says trail.

This section of the trail has not been maintained, and is no longer really visible, but you can't really get lost if you stay in sight of the creek on your left, and stay within the wooded band. There will be an open field below the Rec Center visible beyond the woods to your right. If you are experienced, you'll be able to find where the woods had been cleared and leveled for the pathway at one time. Walk northwest through the woods (which narrows, pointing you to the river) until you reach the bottomland hardwood swamp. There is another old trail sign here. There is a short but abrupt dropoff into the swamp which is the flood plain for the South Branch of the Lincoln River, so you will know when it's time to stop walking in this direction. Turn left (west). In spring this area is filled with marsh marigolds.

There is a narrow berm of high ground that parallels the swampy area, and you will follow this through hemlocks for several minutes. Reach another trail sign indicating a 90 degree turn left (south). The trail continues on the level through the woods. If you cannot tell where the trail is, look ahead of you and you will see a wooden bridge over a creek that you need to head for.

Cross the bridge and climb moderately steeply over some roots, angling slightly to the right along the creek. Then angle left uphill, heading for a bench you should be able to see ahead. The trail takes a sharp left at the bench and continues along the north edge of another small gully, becoming an old service road and emerging in grassy lawn beside the building. Continue past the decks you saw earlier and complete the loop.

If at the bench you had not turned left, but gone straight, there is another small bridge you can take which is mysteriously marked "Station IV." However this does not seem to lead to any other section of trail, and you will just need to walk through the woods to the paved drive.

Access- via any parking area on the east side of campus
Restrictions- no camping, foot travel only
Distance and time- about 0.4 mile, 15 minutes
Trail Markers- occasional brown signs with white or yellow letters that say "trail"
Condition of Marking- Inadequate on the east side of the loop
Treadway- packed forest soil, some grassy lawn
Grades- moderate hills
Ecosystem- small stream leading in to bottomland hardwood swamp, beech-hemlock, interesting deciduous woods
Other points of interest- other college facilities, marshy area filled with marsh marigolds in the spring
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Jan 2008
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Cross-Country Race Trail

This trail is actually a cross country foot race course, but the college allows anyone to walk it when it is not being used for races or practices (generally in the fall). It can be difficult to know just which pieces of mowed trail to follow to actually walk the 5K race course, but if you don't care about making a particular distance this doesn't matter much.

Begin this description of the trail at the fork just south of the bridge at the beginning of the Pond Nature Trail.

Take this wide pathway through the woods slightly uphill until you come to the edge where the woods meets a field. Turn right (south) on the wide mowed path and follow the woods edge.

When you are approximately even with the bridge across the marsh on the Pond Nature Trail the path will make a wide sweeping 180 degree turn uphill and continue through the field to the north. You will go up and down several small hills and reach a mowed staging area in the middle of the field. Make another complete 180 degree turn and head south out of this area on mowed path, going downhill. (for a shorter loop, you can continue straight to the upper picnic pavillion)

The trail drops to the south edge of the field, and turns east, and then north again still along the edge of the field. There are two trails that angle off to your left from this leg of the trail which lead to start and finish areas for various race lengths.

When you reach the gravel service road which extends east from the Rec Center Parking Lot, turn right (east) and take that road as it heads toward the trees. You will enter the trees, make a slight "bump" to the right, and then drop down a small hill. Watch for the trail to angle to the left as the road continues straight. Take the left angle, and soon turn sharply left to walk between evergreens on your right and deciduous woods on the left.

Watch for the trail to angle left again, although there is also a path which continues straight. You need to turn left, and now head west. You will be in the low area near the river. Continue west until the mowed path makes another left and takes you uphill until you reach the service road once more. At this point you can follow the road back to the Rec Center and beyond to complete your loop.

If you are going to ski this trail, I would classify it as intermediate, with a number of dips and turns. My ability is on the low side of intermediate, and I would be willing to ski it in the direction I have described. I would not want to ski it in the other direction because of two hills with turns at the bottom that I don't think I could make.

Access- via any parking area on the east side of campus
Restrictions- no camping
Distance and time- 5K course
Trail Markers- some tall 4x4 posts with red and blue triangles, some is wide mowed path through a field
Condition of Marking- Inadequate- posts are not located at intersections, some old posts are visible where the path no longer exists
Treadway- mowed path
Grades- moderate hills
Ecosystem- mixed deciduous woods, open field
Other points of interest- other college facilities
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- Jan 2008
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Picnicking- Day use area is on the north side of the pond with a pavilion, picnic tables, benches and grills.

There is another day use area with a pavilion, benches and tables east of the Rec Center parking.

Both pavilions have fireplaces. Reservations not required for use, but recommended.

Playground- small climber, with a pole and slide in the picnic area near the pond. Surface is grass. There is a flat area near the pavilion above the Rec Center where you could play ball. The Rec Center is an indoor facility with a gym, track, pool, racquetball, and Wellness Center.

Fishing- There is a pond and fishing is allowed with a special permit from the college.

Boat Launch- There is a rowboat on the south side of the pond which can be put in the water. Call 231-845-6522 for info.

Swimming- The Rec Center has an indoor pool with regular open swimming hours. Call 231-845-6522 for info.

Wildlife Watching- birdwatching could be good in the marshy south end of the pond.

Historic Site- marker "John M. Eaton, Environmental Recreation Area, Dedicated June 12, 1983, to the Founding President of WSCC

Rest Rooms- Latrines in the picnic area by the pond. When the campus buildings are open there are full rest rooms available there.
Potable Water- summer only at the pavilion by the pond (outdoors), When the campus buildings are open there is water available there.

Access- college entrances off both Stiles and Sugar Grove Roads, all paved
Restrictions- no camping, fishing only with permit from the college
Seasonality- water at picnic area turned off in winter, picnic tables stacked in pavilions in winter
Ecosystem- college campus with a mix of lawns, woods, fields, stream, pond
Other points of interest- West Shore Community College
Most recent date this info personally checked- Jan 2008
Additional Facilities- college recreation center, ice arena, other facilities
Maintained by- West Shore Community College , call 231-845-6211

[Counties] Lake County Manistee County Mason County Oceana County

From US 31, take Sugar Grove Road west for 3 miles. The college is on the NE corner of Sugar Grove Road and Stiles Rd.

From US 10 between Scottville and Ludington, take Stiles Rd. north for 3.5 miles. The college is on the NE corner of Sugar Grove Road and Stiles Rd.


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