Van Buren County High Point Trip Report

29 areas (810+ ft)

Date: March 18, 2004
Author: Bob Schwab

Andy Martin’s book reports 31 areas for Van Buren County spread across three quadrants but, due to overlaps across quadrant lines, there are only 29 unique contours that must be investigated. This county took two visits to complete.

two areas in section 19-68N-11W

From the intersection of Routes 2 and V-56 in the town of Milton, go north on V-56 and turn left at the cemetery. Follow this road (Old Main Street) 1 mile west through town to where the paved road bends south toward Route 2. Continue straight on the dirt road a short distance and park on the edge of the road. There is an abandoned white building to your right which used to be a school. Immediately west of this fenced property is a gate into a grassy (and freshly manured) field. Hike north in this "ditched" and flat field to area 1. Return to your car and follow the paved road as it curves south back to Route 2 and the Builder’s Edge store. Cross the intersection with Route 2 to a farm driveway on the south side of the road. From the end of the driveway, look to your left into the cornfield. Area 2 is a small spot in the cornfield, but it is apparent that the field elevation is lower than the driveway and roadbed for Route 2.

eight areas in section 31-68N-11W and the northern half of section 6-57N-11W

From the intersection of Routes 2 and V-56, drive south on V-56 for 1.9 miles to 280 Street. Follow 280 Street as it bends west to Amber Avenue (this road may be muddy). There are two low-lying areas on either side of Amber Avenue (areas 3 and 4) just north of the intersection. There are no fences or obstacles so both sites in the corn/bean field can be easily visited. As you continue west on 280 Street, note the white barn on your right (north). You can park here and hike south into the bean field to explore a large contour (area 5) that intrudes from the west. Continue west to the county line (Davis-Van Buren Avenue), go 0.2 mile south and park. Hike east into area 5 about 0.2 mile, then angle southeast another 0.3 mile to another smaller spot (area 6) in this large bean field. Return to your car and drive north to the intersection with 280 Street. Continue north on the county line, past a high-feeling area near a transformer station to two contours that creep east across the road from adjacent Davis County (areas 7 and 8). The high spot for area 7 seems to be north of a telephone pole on the fence line. The roadbed itself seems to be the highest spot in area 8. Ask the Herteens (owner of the yellow brick house #27419) for permission to visit the next two areas which are a bit farther north on their farm property. A hay barn sits on top of area 9, and area 10 is farther east, in a field next to a row of round hay bales. This larger contour (area 10) can also be visited quite easily by hiking west from Amber Avenue.

four areas, including spot elevation 813 ft

From the intersection of 280 Street and Davis-Van Buren Avenue, travel south on the county line for 1 mile to the intersection with 290 Street. Spot elevation 813 feet is located in the intersection and the contour (area 11) reaches out to include the corn and bean fields to the north and south of 290 Street. Continue south on the county line for roughly 0.4 mile to a pond on your left. The contour north and south of the pond (area 12) is another intrusion from the west which crosses the road. There are no buildings to the west anymore. Some higher ground may be found among the trees on the half section line that separates the corn field. Continue south to 300 Street and turn left. Go east a little more than 0.6 mile and park. Hike north through the tall grass to the fields north, where two small areas are located. Area 13 is only about 0.25 mile north, while area 14 is somewhat north of the half section line. Area 14 can also be approached from the west (when you’re over near the pond inspecting area 12) by simply following the trees east, then heading north. Whichever way you go, these spots will be disappointing because they’re very flat.

eight areas within 1 mile of Route J-40

Return to Milton and the intersection of Routes 2 and V-56. Travel north on V- 56 for 4.5 miles to the intersection with Route J-40. Turn left and follow J-40 for 1.0 mile to a fence line that runs south. Park here. There’s a wooden sign across the road that says "Mormon Trail". You are standing on area 15, which extends down into the field (beans east/corn west). Hike down along the edge of the fence (or along the edge of J-40) until you think you’ve covered the highest ground. Continue northwest on J-40 for 0.3 mile to a house on your right. To the northeast in the pasture is a small rise (area 16) and beyond that another tiny bump (area 17) near the edge of the woods. These spots are clearly not very high and visiting them is optional. Ask the Browns’ for permission before you enter the pasture. Continue just a bit farther on J-40 to 212 Street. Turn left and follow it to Acorn Avenue. Turn left on Acorn and drive south about 1 mile to 220 Street. Turn right on 220 and go west, then north for about 0.75 mile to an unoccupied white house on the corner as the road swings left (mailbox #123). I met some farm workers here who permitted me to hike northeast across the grass/hay field to area 18 which wasn’t muddy and seemed to have a bit of a rise to it.

Return to your car and circle back around to the intersection of 212 Street and Acorn Avenue. As you continue north on Acorn, the road swings west, then north through a large contour that clearly has rise (area 19). This area extends northeast and northwest and crosses J-40 in two different places. There’s a spot elevation 811 at the intersection of J-40 and Amber Avenue, but I felt the highest ground seemed to be on the west side of Acorn Avenue. Park at the "crest" in the road on Acorn and hike west into the big bean field. There are two small "remnant" areas off to the west and southwest of this area, and another fragment just to the northeast. Go south into the cornfield from the spot elevation 811 site to visit area 20 (very flat). Area 21 is best accessed by parking on the "S" curve on Acorn and hiking west, then southwest for about 0.4 mile. You should get permission at the farmhouse there before you roam. Finally, follow the dirt road running east (205 Street?) which is just north of the Acorn/J-40 intersection. Area 22 is abandoned land with an old shed with a rusty gate on the north side of the road. None of these "remnants" are the county high point.

seven areas in Selma Quadrant

I had a hard time getting to these sites from the south and west, so I’d suggest you go east on J-40 to Route V-64. Drive 5 miles north on V-64 to a sign that says "Bethel Worship Center". Turn left and follow this dirt road west for 2.7 miles. Watch for a gate into a pasture on the south side of the road. Area 23 is out in this pasture, as were some lethargic young bulls on the day I visited (I’m an old farm boy and not easily intimidated by cattle). Continue west to Bethel Rock Avenue and turn north 0.25 mile. At the church, take the left fork (167 Road). Drive northwest another 0.4 mile and watch for an old barn on the right. Area 24 includes the cornfields on both sides of the road here. Continue west another 0.6 mile to where 167 Road bends abruptly to the south. Go south a short distance and you’ll be in the middle of area 25, which involves the bean field to the west, as well as the cornfield off to the east. Return to the main road as it bends north (Acorn Avenue). This large area (26) has a high feeling to it, particularly as you near the 3/4 section line. Several of these areas in the Selma quad have definite rises within their contours, unlike some of the spots farther south in the county. Continue north to 160 Street. Turn left at the abandoned house and drive west to the end of the road near a grey house (#10208). Along the way, you cut across the northern finger of area 26. Ask at the house for permission to park and hike north into the hayfield (area 27) and west along the old road track (area 28) to visit the last three areas. When you reach the county line, you can either head directly north (down into the ravine and up the other side) or circle around the rim to the west to get to the spot (area 29) which is bisected by the county line about 0.3 mile north of the old road track. The Selma Quadrant was collectively the most scenic and the highest-feeling region in the county. I suspect area 26 may be the highest in the county but I can’t prove it, so plan to visit all the high spots.