Sometimes you just want to take the road less traveled. You’re in luck if you choose the eastern side of the Jordan Valley Pathway loop. This isn’t effortless hiking. You’ll spend much of the 10 miles climbing up and down riverside ravines (hard on the quads; easy on the eyes). If you’re ever going to make use of that Powerbar breakfast, this is the place to do it.
And there’s a pay-off. The Jordan River National Fish Hatchery.
Four miles north of the Landslide Overlook you’ll find the paved entrance to the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery. Turn left from the trail, and in half a mile, downhill, you can check out the place where 1.85 million-plus lake trout are born and raised before being let loose in Lakes Huron and Michigan every year. The fish hatchery recently was approved for $3.3 million in stimulus money to conduct upgrades, so watch for a building to be built around the open fish raceways which will protect the fish from sunlight and predators. Other improvements will include an upgrade to the sewage system, the installation of a geothermal heating system and microturbine to generate heat and electricity.
The Visitor Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering interpretive displays, viewing windows and outdoor raceways full o’ fish. Tours run daily.
Don’t want to do the 10-mile loop but still want to see the fish? You can drive to the hatchery located at 6623 Turner Road in Elmira. Take US-131 N. out of Mancelona. Turn left on Turner Road, north of Alba. Drive 1.9 miles on Turner, portions of which are unpaved. Take a tour and then head out onto the Jordan River Pathway from there. Trail maps are available at the hatchery Visitor’s Center or the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Service Center (1732 West M-32, Gaylord).