Midland County High Point Trip Report

28 areas (17 natural, 11 man-made)

Date: December 8, 2002 (last area)
Author: Bob Schwab

This multiple-area county is a challenge because the land is quite flat. Andy Martin's book reports 29 areas, but double-counts an area which overlaps two quads (Coleman and Alamando quads), and there is some confusion about how many sites are really man-made. After three visits to this area, I am pretty sure that at least 11 of these sites are man-made (possibly as many as 14). You will need a good map to follow these directions. To approach this general area, exit US Route 10 at Coleman. What follows is a description of what I think are the natural and man-made areas by section number in Midland County, Michigan.

Sections 18-16N-2W and 19-16N-2W

(Area 1) Southwest corner of Section 18, northwest corner of Section 19 on the corner of Baker Road and County Line Road -- one small area under the intersection.

Section 19-16N-2W

(Area 2) Extreme northwest corner, literally under the spot elevation "770" on Baker Road. This is a real rise -- it appears undisturbed. It's in a wooded area adjacent to a yellow trailer (# 5979) and it appears higher than the area under the intersection (area 1).

(Man-made 1) As US Route 10 enters the county from the west, the roadbed for both lanes appears to be drawn at the 770-foot level. This is counted as just one area.

(Man-made 2 and 3) Go east on Baker Road from area 1 for about 0.4 mile to a power-line right of way that runs north-south. Follow the line south, almost to Route 10, to a dirt pile barely east of the power line. A second "dirt-bump" exists about 500 feet west. These two man-made areas were created when gravel was taken from this area to build up the roadbed for Route 10. The owner who lives in the creme and white trailer just west of the right-of-way says this whole area was just a flat field that extended south all the way into Coleman before the road was rebuilt. The area on both sides of Route 10 is now bumpy and brushy with lots of young trees.

(Man-made 4 and 5) As you cross the bridge at the Route 10 interchange, note the embankments on the north and south sides of the bridge. Roy Schweiker's careful map reading alerted me that these man-made areas did attain the 770 foot level. I confirmed this on a subsequent visit. These areas actually straddle two sections: 19-16N-2W and 20-16N-2W.

(Area 3) Look south along the western county line, just south of Route 10, and north of Saginaw Road at the turnaround circle on East Isabella/County Line Road. This area encompasses a large lawn and an old blue house. I wondered whether someone had counted the area inside the turnaround as a separate area, but I didn't see any real difference in elevation between the road and the grassy circle.

(Areas 4 and 5) Two mounds in the weeds/brush/woods behind the houses east of East Isabella/County Line Road, just southeast of area 3. I walked east behind the second house south of the blue one, and found an old access trace that went north of area 4, south of a pond, and then curved south to the east of area 5, which has a small grey building on it. I counted both areas as natural (area 4 looks the most "natural"), but they might have been man-made by gravel operations 40 years ago.

(Man-made 6, 7, and 8) Three more mounds are out in the gravel/brushy area just east of areas 4 and 5. These are obviously the remnants of gravel operations. The topo leads you to believe there are ponds here, but all I saw were some empty depressions/low spots.

(Areas 6 and 7) From the intersection of Saginaw Road and East Isabella/County Line Road, go southeast on Saginaw and look for a small area north of the road in the weeds and brush, behind the third and fourth houses (area 6). This one might possibly be man-made from many years ago when the houses were being built. Area 7 is much bigger, and is farther down the road, but also north of Saginaw Road (I visited the house #5892). There is an expansive lawn around and behind this house which allows you to see about 80% of the area. The back portion is brushy/overgrown/immature trees. There is a significant "ditch" between the highway and all of these houses.

(Man-made 9 and 10) A portion of the roadbed on Saginaw Road just south of area 7 is drawn in at 770 feet. Also, a similar stretch of the old railroad grade (now a really nice paved path called the Pere- Marquette Rail-Trail) is just south of Saginaw Road and area 7. This man-made "rail-trail" area actually runs from the county line (where a 771-foot spot elevation is noted) down to area 8 described below.

(Area 8) Continue southeast on Saginaw Road just a short distance southeast from area 7, and watch for a "driveway" to your right to a house on the south side of the old railroad track (the "rails to trails" path). Hike northwest on the trail just a short distance and find a rise in the brush to your right (north of the trail, but south of Saginaw Road). If you approach from this direction, you will notice the path does rise up as well.

(Area 9) Continue southeast on Saginaw Road to the center section line. The railroad no longer exists, and the town has built an extension of Dickenson Road (DeLorme says Dickerson) up to Saginaw Road. Turn south on Dickenson and you will encounter an industrial park immediately after crossing the trail. There are many more buildings here than shown on the topo, and the ground has been significantly altered, but there is a prominent mound in the lawn in front of a "pond" of some kind in front of one of the industrial buildings.

(Area 10) Continue south on Dickenson Road past the industrial park to a new building (Power Tech Systems) near the intersection of Webster Road and Dickenson Road. This is the northern corner of the largest area I found. I parked in the parking lot and hiked north along Dickenson to the second old apple tree I could see in the weedy field to the west. I thought this was a pretty high-feeling spot. I also checked three other places within the contour of area 10 (south of the Hutamaki Trailer parking lot, near the power substation, and in the back yard of a prominent house in the Alamando quad). This large area extends into section 30, crosses into the Alamando Quad, and runs north-south for over 3/4 mile just east of Dickenson Road. I am almost certain that this is one of the highest natural areas in this county.

(Area 11) From the intersection of Dickenson Road and Webster Road, drive west on Webster to East Isabella/County Line Road. Turn right (north) and go about 0.4 mile to a long driveway to your right, that accesses an old farmhouse and barns surrounded by trees. No one is living in the house, but I found the ground between the house and a metal shed to the south did feel pretty high. This feeling might be enhanced because the place is surrounded by fields that have obviously been plowed for years, hence they may have eroded down a bit.

Section 30-16N-2W

(Man-made 11) From the intersection of Webster/County Line Road, go south about 0.25 mile to a rise in the road where an old railroad grade crosses just north of a grey house (#4852). This is a curious place because the old railroad bed is drawn in at 770 feet yet immediately east of the road is a ditch that is drawn in at 765 feet. I was initially confused because there isn't a separation line drawn on the map where this same ditch system crosses the railroad right of way roughly 0.25 mile east of here and just south of Webster Road. (Get out your magifying glass when you look at the map on this one!). I walked southwest on the old railroad bed from Webster Road to the eastern ditch and confirmed that the railroad grade was indeed still more than five feet higher than the bottom of the ditch. The old railroad bed still serves as an access road to a field from this direction, but access from the west is impossible, since no bridge/crossing remains along County Line Road.

Section 31-16N-2W

(Areas 12 and 13) Go south on Dickenson Road to the Fike Road intersection. Turn west on Fike a short distance, and note the large field behind the trees and houses along the road. You can see both of these areas as low rises along the back southwest-trending border of the field, in front of the trees. The more southerly spot is the larger of the two (as shown on the topo).

(Areas 14-17) Continue west on Fike Road to County Line Road and turn south. Once again, about 0.4 mile south you will see an old sand pit area to the east across an open area. Trending northeast from the sand pit is a low raised area which contains the remaining 4 sites. The area is somewhat brushy/weedy along the edge of the woods, and without leaves on the brush, you can see these slight rises do not compare with what can be found in area 10.

This concludes my description of the 770-foot contours in Midland county. Based on my field visits, I believe the highest ground is probably in area 10, with areas 7, 9 and 11 almost as high. I did not do any hand-leveling, but most of the smaller areas do not rise much above their surroundings, with the exception of the man-made areas.