iron mountain mi, hiking trails nicolet national forest upper peninsula

Assessors Trail

by

Sym Terhune

(National Forest Service, Ret.)

On the east end of the lake adjoining Lost Lake campground is an interpretive trail which winds through the majestic stand of hemlock and pine. Featured along the trail is a towering white pine called The Assessor White Pine. Survival of this beautiful specimen and the virgin stand timber surrounding the shores of the lake is part of the local folklore.

Back in the 1920's there was a tax assessor for the Town of Tipler by the name of Ed Kruger. He is credited with foresight that resulted in saving this mantle of virgin timber around Lost Lake. Old-timers say that Kruger was assessing the timber of A.J. Tipler when he came upon this beautiful area. Being very much impressed with its grandeur he could not see the benefit of it being cut for lumber. Later, as he was back in his office filling out the tax assessment forms, Mr. Kruger contacted Tipler and asked if he was going to cut that virgin stand of timber around Lost Lake. Tipler said he was. Kruger persuaded Tipler to leave the stand uncut by threatening to increase his tax assessment.

One of the stops along the interpretive trail is the "Assessor White Pine" from which the trail gets its name, "The Assessor Trail". The Assessor White Pine stands as a monument to Kruger's personal beliefs.

Depending on your point of view, Kruger could be a hero or one of the first in a long line of bureaucrats who have made life difficult for the local loggers. Regardless, Lost Lake is a more beautiful place because of Ed Kruger.

The Assessor Trail is about one mile in length. To walk the trail and read all of the some 50 interpretivenicolet national forest iron  mountain michigan upper peninsula hiking signs along the way, takes about an hour. The trail begins at a parking lot at the trail head.

The trail first winds through a northern hardwood stand pointing out unusual features such as what causes the grassy sounds in the woods' floor. In about a five minute walk, the trail enters a majestic hemlock cathedral of tall trees. Through this portion of the trail, interpretive signs point out little features which are part of the life of a forest stand. Here the trail follows within sight of the lake shore for about one third of a mile.

At the halfway mark, there is a log bench inviting the visitor to relax and rest awhile. For undoubtedly, it is here that soul can be reacquainted with marvels and beauty of creation as one peers out over the lake from a high vantage point on the trail. Suddenly, while resting, waiting, and listening, for sure you are apt to hear the "call of the wild", the resident loon, reminding you that you are only a visitor to a home that belongs to nature and its creatures placed therein to help maintain its beauty, solace and balance.

Along the way you are introduced to the "Assessor White Pine", a chance to get close to one of the few remaining monarchs of the woods. The trail takes a stroll through areas which have been commercially harvested, pointing out some of the wildlife habitat benefits of the new forest growth coming.

hiking in the nicolet national forest upper peninsula of mi

One of the direct benefits for the trail visitor are the raspberries along either side of the trail in some sections. They come in about July. There are a lot of good berry picking opportunities along old trails and woods roads in the area as the berry seasons progresses.

The trail then breaks out onto an old railroad grade, used in the old days to log off this area, that leads back toward the parking lot. It is along this portion of the walk that one can envision the history of the past when power was by men, beast, and steam. There was no electrical, gas or diesel powered equipment in those days to get the timber products from the woods to the mill.

At the end of the one mile trail, the walk doesn't end, it just begins. Opening up wider horizons of appreciation for what a forest is all about. It is many things to many forms of life. It is both a place of peace and relaxation as well as a place of provision, for not only us, but for wildlife and nature as well.

Chipmunk Rapids

Lost Lake

Morgan Lake

Perch Lake

Whisker Lake Wilderness

Lauterman Trail

Nicolet National Forest Home Page

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