Just 30 miles south of Grand Rapids, the Yankee Springs Recreation Area offers 30 miles of hiking trails through 5,200 forested acres. This short trail begins in the heart of the park, just north of Gun Lake Road, and joins the North Country Trail 0.2 mile from the trailhead. Although this route only follows 0.6 mile of the North Country Trail, this new (still unfinished) trail stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota.
From the trailhead, the trail rolls through a dense pine and maple forest. After 0.3 mile, you’ll follow the wooded shoreline of Hall Lake for 0.25 mile before the route’s most difficult segment: a 100-foot climb to the top of Graves Hill. Maples replace pine as you leave the lakeshore and when leaf-cover is sparse, the rocky hilltop offers great views of the surrounding countryside. Bear north from the hilltop for a 0.6-mile out-and-back to the edge of Devil’s Soup Bowl. The tree-lined bowl is one of only a handful of dry kettle formations in Michigan and there’s an easy hike around it’s rim that might be worth the extra 15 or 20 minutes. The return trip takes you back over Graves Hill, rejoins the North Country Trail briefly and proceeds along a rolling, heavily wooded path west of the lake toward the trailhead.
TO TRAILHEAD: From Grand Rapids, take US 131 22 miles south to exit 61. Turn left onto 12th St. and turn left 100 yards later onto 129th Ave. Drive 7.8 miles and turn right onto Gun Lake Rd. Drive 2.1 miles, turn left onto S. Norris Rd. and proceed 200 feet to the trailhead parking area.
Distance: 2.24 mi
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Points of Interest
Location: 42.613317, -85.490879
Turn right at the 3-way junction just east of the trailhead. Follow signs toward Hall Lake and roll gently through a dense pine and maple forest.
Location: 42.614517, -85.485428
Stay left at 3-way and follow signs to Graves Hill. Blue blazes indicate that you're on a segment of the North Country Trail, which stretches from upstate New York to North Dakota. (The 4,600-mile trail is nearly half completed.)
Location: 42.615543, -85.484978
As the trail brushes against the shores of Hall Lake, you'll see a couple of the lake's small wooded islands.
Location: 42.621044, -85.482941
A steep, 100-foot climb from the lake lands at a well-worn rock on the top of Graves Hill, a great spot to sit and catch your breath. Turn right at the 4-way, following signs to the Devil's Soup Bowl.
Location: 42.622578, -85.480423
Stay left near a park road cul-de-sac, following signs for the Devil's Soup Bowl, just a few hundred yards ahead.
Location: 42.622757, -85.478472
The Devil's Soup Bowl is the dried-up basin of a kettle lake left by the last retreating glacier. If you're feeling energetic, follow the short loop trail around the bowl's upper rim before heading back to Graves Hill. Watch for mountain bikers on the multi-use trail.
Location: 42.621151, -85.482903
On the south side of Graves Hill, turn right to follow the western half of the Hall Lake Trail.
Location: 42.620579, -85.485550
Keep to the left at this 3-way junction to continue toward the trailhead. The Chief Noonday and North Country trails turn west and cross the road.
Location: 42.618019, -85.490227
The trail skirts a large wetland about 0.3 mile due north of the trailhead; watch for water birds.
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