Think back of all the time you've spent in West Branch. Yes, there have probably been many. All those times you've eaten at G's Pizzeria (and gotten the cheese bread, of course - one sign of insanity is going to G's an not getting them). All those times at the outlet mall, buying yet another pair of shoes. And all those times on the Ogemaw Hills Pathway. If you've racked up all these accomplishments, this post isn't directed at you West Branch old timers. This is for all the people new to the county seat of Ogemaw County and are on the hunt for a good hiking trail.
Speaking broadly, there are two large loops, the east loop and the south loop. For this post, I'll discuss the south loop, though I have walked the first half of the east loop as well. The DNR map has nicely designated the various trail sections based on difficultly, and the south loop is the easiest of the sections - more of a walking trail rather than a tougher hiking trails - but still makes for a nice day out in the woods.
The trees along the trails are mostly coniferous. The easy section of the southern trail runs parallel to M-55. On my morning walk, there wasn't a lot of traffic, but I could hear every vehicle that went by. Along with the pine trees, there were sections that were heavily covered with ferns, enough that the trail nearly disappeared beneath them in spots. I expected dinosaurs to start roaming the trails - very Jurassic era-like.
As this was the easy loop, there were no large hills to climb. Many sections of the trail were low and borderline muddy. Had it rained recently, then my hiking shoes probably wouldn't have been enough to keep my feet dry - it would have been boots terrain. Despite the mosquito-friendly environment, I didn't notice a large number of bothersome bugs.
The entire trail system has over thirteen miles of trails, and I'm looking forward to hiking them again when I have the time to visit the area once more. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, and on my visit, only a few people were at the pathway. So while in the West Branch area, make the Ogemaw Hills Pathway one of your stops. And trust me about the bread sticks.