Eastern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Wolf Mountain Hiking Trail
Forest: Ottawa National Forest
District: Bessemer Ranger District
Description: The Wolf Mountain Hiking Trail provides access to a diverse display of spring wildflowers and rock outcrop plants. The trail is short but quite steep. It starts at the end of Forest Road 9300, and heads upward through tall sugar maple and oak trees. On either side of the trail may be seen flowers including yellow violets, downy Solomon’s-seal, false Solomon’s-seal, bloodroot, Canada mayflower, wild sarsaparilla, blue cohosh, baneberry, wild leek, zigzag goldenrod, jack-in-the-pulpit, wood nettle (beware its stinging hairs!), bottlebrush grass, large leaf aster and trout lily, as well as the delicate maidenhair fern. As the trail reaches a higher elevation and becomes sunnier, pearly everlasting and northern bush honeysuckle can be seen. After about 0.29 miles, a lookout is reached, with a wide view to the west, looking over the forest canopy below. The lookout features exposed rock with abundant kinnickinnick (bearberry), dogbane, and pussy-toes below serviceberry, staghorn sumac, and white pine. Rock spike-moss (Selaginella) and rusty woodsia may also be seen growing on the exposed rock.
The trail ducks back into the woods and emerges, about 0.38 miles from the trailhead, at a second west-facing lookout. Here oak saplings and common juniper dominate, with poverty oats and pussy-toes. About three-tenths of a mile further, the trail peters out at a summit, with exposed rock under pine trees making an inviting rest or picnic spot. Rock harlequin can be seen here and “moss turtles”, rounded pads of Leucobryum glaucum, inviting the observer to pat their dense fuzzy surfaces. Thorough observers may also find the uncommon Back’s sedge on the summit of Wolf Mountain.
Safety First: The trail receives infrequent maintenance and fallen logs may be present, requiring hikers to step over or walk around. Stinging nettles crowd the trailside about halfway up—long pants help avoid the itchy tingle this plant can impart. There is a steep stretch, pace yourself to avoid overexertion and be careful of slipping especially when the ground is muddy. There are no guardrails at the top, stay away from the edge. To avoid introducing non-native invasive plants to this trail, please be sure your boots, clothing, and gear are free of seeds and mud or debris that could contain seeds. Please stay on the trail; ground nests of birds have been observed within a few inches of the trail during summer.
Directions: Wolf Mountain Hiking Trail is reached from US Highway 2, running between Wakefield and Marenisco, Michigan, in the western Upper Peninsula. Follow Forest Road 9300 north from Highway 2 for 3.1 miles, crossing a creek and two utility corridors, to where this native surface road ends in a turnaround loop. The trailhead is at the end of the loop and is marked with a small brown sign depicting a hiker.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Ottawa National Forest.
Closest Town: Wakefield, Michigan.