It may not be lions, tigers and bears, oh my!
But it is bobcats, bears, foxes and coyotes, oh my!
That’s just the start of the appeal of the Greilick Outdoor Recreation & Education Center, which is owned by Traverse City’s Rotary Club. It was a former Boy Scout Camp for years. Now the 500-acre property goes by the name GOREC and is open for daily outdoor use by area residents.
It’s a wonderful wild space to explore for hiking and mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Those are just a few of the animals that have been seen this summer by staff and those recreating on the property, according to Jamie Lewis Hedges, GOREC director.
“We have a mama bear with cubs on the property this summer who has been spotted around the lakes. Bobcats are rarely seen, but we have at least one that’s been spotted on the property more than once. There are foxes, coyotes and, of course, plenty of deer for those out exploring the property to catch glimpses of,” he enthused as we met on the property recently and walked around the camp.
“Right now we are open to visitors for day use only, no camping at this time with the pandemic still going on. Eventually we will be open for camping where people can pitch tents or rent cabins for family fun and adventure. The outdoor potential is great. Currently we are conducting some online courses for people on some of the basics for outdoor fun,” Lewis Hedges pointed out. “We have one on camp setup, another on compass basics, and a map and compass program that you can watch and learn from.”
The 500 acres include frontage on three lakes, including large Rennie Lake, and is managed for wildlife habitat as part of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. There are numerous trails and old two-tracks that head out into the acreage that offer miles of exploring. You can connect with the Brown Bridge Quiet Area, the Boardman River Trail, North Country Trail and Muncie Lakes Pathway offering an abundance of trail connections.
This summer they are just starting to identify and mark trails on the property with paint marks on trees. It’s in the early stages and following the paint marks can be a little confusing as they are ironing out the process. There is a map on their website, but the trails shown on the map aren’t necessarily marked yet.
“We are marking our two main trails that lead to the outer boundaries of the property with red and blue marks on the trees,” the director explained as we walked. “The blue trail is mostly complete, but the red trail is only partially marked at this time.”
I found following the trails involved some map reading, intuition and hope that you were headed in the right direction, which I found delightful. At times I wasn’t sure exactly where I was, but had an idea and just kept forging ahead. I figured that you were going to come out somewhere between Hobbs Highway and Ranch Rudolf Road, which borders the acreage on the north and south. Rennie Lake is to the east. Wells and well roads are scattered around the southern perimeter along Ranch Rudolf Road. You are allowed to access the graveled well roads to proceed through GO-REC. The map and compass programs now featured on their website are most appropriate and will be helpful exploring the vast acreage.
This has the potential of making an unequivocally wonderful camping spot for families when they are able to open that option. There are several camping sites scattered around the property with cabins, picnic areas, shelters and tenting options. There will be a camp store available, there’s a beach area on Rennie Lake and canoes and kayaks that can be rented.
When I was visiting the site recently I ran into a couple that was geocaching. There are geocaches located on the property. There is a disc golf course available.
It’s my new favorite getaway spot. I head out into the acerage for miles of mountain bike riding and never see anybody. It’s beautiful, peaceful and soul satisfying.
Eventually we will be open for camping where people can pitch tents or rent cabins for family fun and adventure. The outdoor potential is great.” Jamie Lewis Hedges, GOREC director