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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hiking’

In 1954 the state designated the Haven Hill area, a State Natural area and Nature Study area. They did this because of the diversity of habitats there, and because of the big push from the Michigan Botanical Society.

11MarkerMost people do not know that the Haven Hill area is not just a state designated Historical site, due to the remains of the old Edsel Ford Estate that was located primarily on Haven Hill, but actually made up what is now the entire eastern side of Highland Recreation area. That’s right…..all the park lands that are east of Duck Lake road was once the boundaries of the Ford Estate there, with the Lodge and main Estate buildings located on top and around the edge of the main hill.

But……all the lands north of Haven Hill and that surround Haven Hill Lake are part of the state Natural Area. The many natural Springs, the swamps, the deep cuts in terrain and rolling hills have produced many diverse ecosystems. Some of which only exist in more northern areas of our state.

As Spring starts to break and everything goes into blooming stages, it is a wonderful time to take a Hike around Haven Hill Lake. There is a good solid, maintained Trail that encircles the Lake and will also take you through the main Estate on Haven Hill for your return Trail leg. A beautiful Boardwalk takes you around the northern most Swamp areas of the Natural Area. Many small creeks exist here, due to the many Natural Springs through out the northern and western side of Haven Hill Lake.

There are many rare flowers and plants along the way. Just like exploring for remnants of the Ford Estate on Haven Hill, you need to look closely as you Hike the Trail loop around Haven Hill Lake. The Fords did very little to the north and far western side of the Lake Edsel created by damming Cedar creek. So the primary focus on this Trail surrounding the Lake are ecosystems and different environments. If ever you carried Nature ID guides along on a Hike, this would be the place to do so. There are examples of almost every Tree that grows in the state of Michigan, somewhere along this main loop Trail.

Download one of the Maps from the web site and get started not only exploring the past in History, but the present in the extensive Natural world in and around Haven Hill.

DOWNLOAD A GPSED MAP OF THE NATURAL AREA AND HISTORICAL AREA HERE:

HavenHillTrailsMap

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OK…..here we have the 1909 Survey Platt map of White Lake Twp. and what was to be eventually the Ford Estate and then Highland Recreation Area. In 1909 the area was all still mostly private lands, held by some of the original Homesteaders and a couple of small Investment Groups. The Investment Groups used their holdings for a number of things, from private Hunting preserves, to Logging and other interests.

The still private lands were mostly Farmed out by this point, although there where still some on-gong family Homestead/Farms in existence. The last of the Native Americans in the area were located in the far southeast corner of what would be the eventual Ford Estate.

Hunting was pretty good around the Haven Hill area because of the many natural springs and Cedar Creek which flowed steady year round. At the time of this 1909 Map, Cedar creek flowed unhampered west to east, until it dumped into Cedar Lake on the far southeast corner of the Map. Beatty Lake was part of this watershed as well, and was also part of the purchases made by the Ford family when the Estate was being established.

Milford,MI1909

Download a printable version of this 1909 map here:

Ford representatives would not start purchasing lands in the area for another 10 or so years yet, and when they did start buying lands, they did so secretly under a trust company, as not to show the locals just who was buying up the land in the area. Knowing that the Ford family was purchasing land in White Lake would have driven up the price of these individual parcels tremendously. And with so many different owners of so many individual parcels, the costs for just what Edsel ended up buying, would have been outrageous.

In the 1920s after all the land purchases where complete, and the Boundaries you see indicated on the 1909 Map, in red, the first thing Edsel got working on was the Huge undertaking of Damming up Cedar creek and forming what is still, Haven Hill Lake. It took much more then just the Dam to produce this Lake. Look closely at the new Map of the Estate/park and notice just how many Empoundments were also created to be able to form the Lake and hold back all the flowing waters of Cedar creek. It was an enormous undertaking.

HavenHillTrailsMap

Download the modern Highland recreation Park Map here;

Print out the two Maps we have here and head out to the Park and EXPLORE. Some of the small ponds and Lakes still exist. Some of the flowing smaller creeks around cedar creek are still in place. Others have dried up or vanished completely. Notice on the 1909 Platt Map, that there are small black squares. These black squares indicate old Homes and Farms, or buildings of some sort. Most are gone now, but with some investigating and exploring you can still find the remnants of these structures. Foundations, old fence lines and Farm implements appear in the middle of what is Forests now.

Remember as you explore and discover, that you should leave what you find, where you find it. This is a Historical area, and these places are protected by state law. Just your integrity should stop you from disturbing these historical places and items. leave them for others to also discover. Just maybe eventually some real Historical work will take place at Highland and these places will serve great purposes in revealing what once was, at Haven Hill. Please be respectful here. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you see Vandals or people with Metal detectors, please either stop them, take their pictures and report them. There has been much lost at Highland to self centered thieves and treasure hunters, looking for something for themselves.

We print these maps and give everyone this information because History is an important part of all of our lives. Lets all pull together and stop the few from ruining that for all of us now and for future generations.

Staircase copy

Enjoy the discoveries……Have Fun with the Explorations……decipher what you have found…..and then

leave it where you found it, for others to discover. You are exploring an area over 104 years old since the original Platt Map above was first produced.

As a challenge…..see if you can find these amazing stairs, built right into the side of a Hill on what once was the Ford families private Nature Trail system. The staircase is a wonderful place. There is much more to be discovered around these stairs, so look closely at what might be hiding in the underbrush. Sit for awhile and imagine what the area would have looked like some 90 years or so ago, when the Fords created their Estate.

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The Fall season is the very best of times to explore the Edsel Ford Estate at Haven Hill. With the ground cover dieing back and the foliage falling away, much that was hidden by the summers growth is now reveled.

Sign posts, foundations, fence lines and old structures appear almost out of no where with the leaves falling. So download a updated Map from the HAVEN HILL PROJECT web site, do a little studying, and then wait a bit as the leaves start to fall. Then head out to the Estate and do some of the best historical exploring you will experience in almost any place in Michigan.

This is also a great time to hike the Natural Area loop, around Haven Hill lake. Edsel Ford did much around the Dam area at the lake, so keep your eyes open for signs of family activity there. Look for Hiking Michigan to sponsor another Fall HISTORY HIKE this year again. Sometime in October there will be announcements. This is a Fall Tour you should not miss.

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Great time to head out to Haven Hill at Highland Recreation area. The Natural area’s main trail, around the north side of the Dam is starting to come into bloom with the many wild flowers and plants that grow there. The many different habitats mean there are many different kinds of plants and flowers in this part of the Park.

Download one of the maps from the web site and take a journey around Haven Hill lake and enjoy the Spring blooms. Circle back through the ruins at Haven Hill Lodge. It is much easier to see and understand the Estate at this time of year, due to the lack of thick tree cover and ground foliage. A wonderful way to spend a Spring afternoon.

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Right now is some of the best times to see things at the Ford estate, that you may not see at any other time of the year. With little foliage and tree cover, many of the now overgrown Estate features, pop out of hiding. Walking the trails, or wandering off the trails can make for some interesting discoveries.

Haven Hill is all about looking closely. Stop from time to time in your travels there, and just look around and see what is hiding in plain view. Is there one of the old stone walls that encircled the main estate on the hill? Maybe one of the many hand-pumps located just off some of the modern trails, that once where used to water the Ford family horses as they traveled the Estate grounds.

There is still so much that has not been discovered or logged at the Estate. Remember…….history has many angles, leave what you find the way it was. Location and how something is places, is just as important as the discovery itself. There are still many secrets to be understood at the Estate.Only the very basics have ever been logged for public knowledge.

Explore, discover, enjoy the history and nature at Haven Hill.

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Here is the first in a series of 4 new Haven Hill videos. This first video is an overview of the Estate and it’s main structures and features. There are many new pictures and recent video clips, as well as new detailed maps.

The next video in this series will be exclusively on the Ford Historic Nature Trails. This area of the Estate was developed by Edsel and landscape architect Jens Jensen, as a private nature trails system, for the Ford family and friends. Bridges, benches, ornamental  ponds, structures and all the wonderful things that make up a beautiful nature area as this.

We suggest that you download our newly updated Estate maps from the web site, and go exploring for yourself. The combination of history and nature combined at the Estate is as joy for almost everyone.

Our new Explorer Estate and Park maps will be available next week. These 13″ x 19″ maps are printed on archival paper and show just how the Estate was in 1930 at it’s hay-day. These two maps are different from the free maps that you can download from the web site at this moment. They contain every detail, road, building and feature at the Ford Estate in 1930. We guarantee you have never seen anything like these maps.

So…..get out to Highland State Recreation Area and discover the wonder of what once was the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate. There is no place in Michigan quite like it.

Downlo0ad a Trails map of the Estate and state designated Natural area at the park. TRAILS & ESTATE MAP

Download a map of Haven Hill and the locations of the various structures and features that made up the Ford Estate.  MAP OF THE HAVEN HILL ESTATE

Read a two page excerpt from the upcoming Book about the Estate and the history of the area starting from the 1600s and running to the present day.  HISTORY SHEETS

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Hiking Michigan will be assisting us in a very special Tour of the Ford estate and the Natural area surrounding the Estate shortly. This extra special tour will be by reservations only, in order to hold the number of hikers to less then 20.

We are holding this special Hike/Your to celebrate the release of both our “Guide Booklet” and hardcover book called simply, “HAVEN HILL”. We wanted this special Tour to be able to visit and examine some of the special and little know places through out the Estate. Something we could not accomplish with the groupd of 75 people we have been getting at past HISTORY HIKES.

Stay tuned of more details and announcement on a first come first serve reservation for this very special Tour. You will simply be bowled over at what you will see and explore with this small group on this unique and extra special Hike/Tour.

So stay tuned for details and be the first of 20 people attending this Tour.

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