Deerfield Nature Park – Hiking, Skiing, Disc Golf and More in Isabella County
A little bit of early spring warmth had us itching to get outside and do some hiking this week. We were looking for something new as well, so we headed north away from the usual trails we hike in Kent and Ottawa counties. Deerfield Nature Park in Isabella County had caught our eye while looking at some options online, so we headed up to the Mount Pleasant area to check out some hiking trails and unique bridges.
The nature park features miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and is highlighted by the Fisher covered bridge. There are also two suspension bridges and the Lewis-Pontiac bridge that honors a Saginaw Chippewa tribal elder. We started out on the Lewis-Pontiac Trail from the parking area, and within a quarter mile had reached this bridge and some fantastic views of the partially frozen Chippewa River.
After crossing the bridge, we headed to the right to follow the River Loop, one of the longer paths in the park and the one that leads to the covered bridge. Along the way we were treated to great views of the river, and we also passed an old artesian well.
The River Loop eventually meets with the Covered Bridge Trail, and we took the short side trip over to check out Fisher Bridge. This bridge is in great shape and provided some stunning views of the river and surrounding area. It was easy to see why this bridge is one of the major draws to the park.
We doubled back on Covered Bridge Trail, then continued to head south on the River Loop. After a little while we reached signs for the suspension bridge, so we took that side trail and got a chance to cross the river on this somewhat creaky but well-preserved bridge.
After visiting the suspension bridge we retraced our steps back to the River Loop, and headed back north to the Fox Run Crossover. This short trail led us to the Wildwood Pathway, which would lead us back to the river and the final suspension bridge.
Unfortunately, we found this bridge closed to pedestrian traffic when we got there. This is not noted on the trail map or any signs leading up to it, so we ended up with a bit of an extra hike for no reason. We doubled back and re-joined the River Loop, which eventually put us back at the Lewis-Pontiac bridge and the trail back to our car.
Other features in the park include: a beach, two disc golf courses, several pavilions, a small hike-in campground as well as several places to launch canoes or kayaks. Our hike was a bit more grueling due to the slushy conditions, but that also added some quiet and serenity to the area – we only saw four other people in the two hours we were there and two of them were getting in one last run on their cross-country skis. We’ll definitely be back to check out this park in warmer weather, and it looked like it would be absolutely stunning in the fall.
Deerfield Nature Park is located at 2425 Remus Rd., six miles west of Mt. Pleasant. There is a daily vehicle entrance fee of $6, with annual passes also available. More details and a park map can be found at http://www.isabellacounty.org/parks-information/deerfield-nature-park.