Sometimes when you’re traveling, the places that are the closest to you can be the most amazing. This is the case for a place near me called High Banks Rollaway, located near Buckley Michigan.

Buckley is your classic small town, they don’t have much to offer when it comes to material purchases, but what they do have is scenery. I’ve driven through the area many times throughout my life and I always caught myself staring out the window.

Once you drive through Buckley, on the way to the Rollaway, you first have to stumble across one of the many dirt roads located around the country town. Once you’re able to snag the correct one, you have to take it back about a quarter of a mile to another intersecting dirt road. This road winds through the woods and out of nowhere, comes the wooden sign that signifies all national parks in the United States.

I was on this well-needed day hike with my good friend Dan.

Dan and I met during a high school class where we caused all kinds of ruckus and trouble and we have managed to remain close friends since our trouble causing days in the public school system. We’ve managed to straighten up a bit since then though!

Dan pulled his car into the small dirt area next to the overlook, we put on our gear (travel packs filled with water, snacks, a blanket, etc…), attempted to use mosquito spray (but it was empty!), and braced ourselves for the bug-infested woods at eight-thirty in the morning, which was just after the sun began to rise from the tree tops.

The overlook that we parked next to was an absolutely breathtaking view, the kind that Northern Lower Michigan and its Upper Peninsula are known for. Simply stunning. Looking out you could see for miles, overlooking tree tops that were filled with vibrant reds, yellows, and greens. When you looked down there was the Manistee River in a massive horseshoe turn, the current slowly gliding leaves around it’s near 180 degree bend.

Full of anxious desires to hit the trail, we began our adventure into the woods that grace along the edge of the cliff.

The thick forest that we hiked through was lush in vegetation and rich in color. I would love to say that we were able to see a lot of animal activity as well, but that was limited on this morning.

We hiked until the next outlook point, which was around one and a half miles from where we originally began. This new view gave a different perspective of the river, this time instead of looking directly over the center of it, we saw it from the right side.

What is so amazing about this hiking trail is that at every designated “look out” point, you were able to see for miles. It was impossible to not stop and get lost in the beauty of it for long periods. I love hiking!

We continued on for the next mile or so and stopped at the next look out spot. We decided to throw down a blanket and eat lunch. It was around ten in the morning at this point. I turned around and noticed a camp fire that had been there. I couldn’t help but think how it was the perfect place for camping. At that point, Dan and I knew that we wanted to be back to spend the night at some point later on. It’s too amazing to pass up.

Towards the turnaround point of our hike, we ran across a blue racer near a grape patch (are they called patches?). Nearly crying for my life, I did my best not to run away and hold my ground, this little guy wouldn’t get the best of me! Dan stayed cool and filmed the snake as it made its quick descent away from us.

We turned around near a regrettably ruined area by local campers. Garbage was thrown around everywhere, full winter jackets, vehicle mirrors, alcoholic bottles and more were everywhere. In the middle of it all was a giant mound of trash and ashes. The worst part and what pissed me off the most, was the fact that there were fresh tracks. I’m all for having a good time, but do not ever damage a natural habitat like that. At least the campfire I saw earlier was handled respectably with little trace left outside of a black spot.

After looking at the garbage in disgust and half wanting to hurl whoever did it off the cliff (too harsh?), we turned around and headed back towards the car. To our surprise, we saw a different blue racer in between two trees. It began slinking away when we decided to follow it (not our brightest moment) and we landed upon a snake pit in the root system of a group of trees that were attached to the side of the cliff. Various other blue racers were popping their heads in and out of the roots and up until that point, I had never seen anything like it.

From then on, I was very conscientious about stepping on one for the rest of the hike! We arrived back at the car after a forty minute hike back from the turn around point, making our total mileage around seven miles.

Outside of the garbage dump, this site is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to be back. This was the first time I had been there in years. After experiencing it’s beauty for what felt like the first time again, I plan on making this a yearly tradition while I’m spending my summers around Traverse City, Michigan.

If you ever get a chance to take this trail, I highly suggest it! Just make sure that you remember bug spray, or you may not make it out alive. It can be very difficult to find on a map (it’s nearly completely hidden) so I included a link here to the area where it’s at. I literally had to find the coordinates for it!

Here is a video of the hike that we went on. I’ve since learned a ton from filming this video…like not having it vertical. But I promise the next video will be much better. Enjoy!

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