It was to be the first off-site trip for the Marion Boys Club and our destination was to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. From Noreika Road we hung a right at Big Bas Lake Road and skirted the north portion of our property before making a long turn from it. About a mile later we turned westward onto the Free Soil Road.
On both sides of the road for almost two miles was Bear Swamp (now known to locals as Duck Marsh). Here the forest was very thick and dark. The road was also very narrow. We passed alongside the Big Sauble River twice and son thereafter went by Camp Sauble on the right. I told the boys that Camp Sauble was not for kids but was part of the State of Michigan Correctional Center.
As we went down a hill the forest gave way to meadows and fields for a time as we approached Free Soil. There were no stop lights in that community although we did slow down to cross over some very bumpy railroad tracks. We then went around a long curve before finding ourselves in orchard country and this lasted until we met US 31.
At that point we tuned left onto that highway and proceeded another mile going north until we met the Recreation Area Road on the left. At that point, and for the remainder of our trip, the Manistee National Forest was again our companion on both sides of that seven mile stretch. The road ended at the parking lot right next to a dune that once crossed led us to Lake Michigan.
The boys always liked this off-site trip as at times we stopped at the Orchard Market on the way home on US 31 for snacks. They had great doughnuts there and jars of honey with the honeycomb found within the jar. This was but one, of several, off-site excursions that I took with the various boys clubs that came to our property at Big Bass Lake and nearly all of them were through the Manistee National Forest.