The Ransom Lake Natural Area, just southeast of the village of Lake Ann, offers an easy, 2.5-mile scenic hike along a beautiful, quick-flowing creek and around the small lake.

It was my first hike here even though the 220-acre natural area has been around since the early 2000s, and I have a feeling — because it’s not a large area — that it flies under the radar of many area hikers. That’s a mistake as I discovered.

There are two trailheads, one off Bellows Lake Road that comes off CR 610 and the other off CR 665. From the trailheads you have an out-and-back trail of about a half-mile that hooks up with a trail of 1.4 miles around the lake. I like the southern trailhead off CR 665, or Lake Ann Road as locals know it, that follows Ransom Creek up to the lake, which to me is more scenic than the woodland trail off Bellows Lake Road.

My first thought as I hiked along the creek trail was, “this is the essence of a northern Michigan hike.”

A swift, flowing creek tumbles through a valley between ridges as it rushes from an isolated beautiful small lake surrounded by a northern Michigan forest. As soon as you leave the trailhead parking lot following the pathway along the creek you leave behind any road noise and signs of civilization. It was just the sounds of birds chirping and the creek bubbling along below just below the trail.

Then the first hint of buzzing in my ear let me know that mosquitoes were present, and in short order they would have been all over me if I hadn’t applied bug spray before leaving the parking area. I was mostly all right, but they were so annoying that I ended up swallowing a couple before I realized that my mouth should stay shut.

I have noticed since the weather finally warmed up in May that the mosquitoes have been the worst I’ve seen in recent years. They seem to be everywhere in the woods, not just near water. Ticks have also been late showing up, but recent posts on Facebook from friends would indicate they are also out and looking for blood. They are expected to be as bad again as recent years.

A friend that went hiking, dressed properly with long pants, socks pulled up over pants and fully covered, discovered ticks on her when she got home to take a shower. She had undressed in a mud room before entering the house and discovered ticks in her bathroom the next morning. Take precautions, check yourself closely after coming in from a hike, and don’t forget the Deet.

Terrell’s Trail Notes

There are two trailheads — both are about a half-mile one way joining the pathway that circles the lake, which is about 1.4 miles around, according to my Fitbit. Total distance around the lake and out-and-back paths from the trailheads is about 2.5 miles. I find the out-and-back trail along Ransom Creek is the most scenic way in and out. When you reach the lake, a picturesque wooden bridge crosses the creek to begin the trail around it.

Benches made by local Boy Scout troops have been placed along the pathway at scenic locations and an attractive fishing dock with benches is also near the creek crossing. It’s also a great place to just sit and enjoy the view when the mosquitoes die off. The trail that leads to Ransom Lake along the creek is considered a handicap accessible trail. It joins the lake circle, and the fishing dock can also be reached via that trail. The trail circling the lake is not handicap accessible, only the out-and-back trail along the creek.

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