Reed Lake Loop Trail

Hours

Every day Never Closes

Review

Reed Lake, like most permanent lakes in the islands, has been enhanced by man for development purposes. The trailheads for the lake loop are both located on an old roadway that tops the berm that raised the lake level and flooded the wetlands that were once here. In their place a different environment has been created, providing habitat for waterfowl and other plants and animals that thrive in this deeper permanent body of water. Before hiking the loop around the lake it’s a good idea to quietly walk just a little past the loop trailhead to the short one-way trail that allows you to stealthily walk down to the bird blind on the shoreline of the lake. The tall salal of the path helps to hide you from the wildlife before reaching the picturesque log cabin structure. Not only does this help to conceal you from the wildlife but in wet weather you have a comfortable roof over your head letting you enjoy the view much longer than you might have.

Once you’ve had a careful look at the lake’s "social" life you can walk back to the trailhead to begin the short but beautiful hike around the lake. Passing through the dense salal you enter a much older and undisturbed forest, different from what you walked past on the approach. Stepping across a couple of small streams flowing into the lake you’ll encounter large ancient trees. These reveal evidence of the remnant old-growth forest that still exists in the heart of the island. The location of this forest at Reed Lake provides a critical link between the old-growth areas that are part of the island’s northern and central Natural Area Preserves. For the botanically focused, there are hints of the unusual habitat that becomes increasingly evident as you travel toward the south end of Cypress. Underlying the common looking forest duff are serpentine rock and soil. The nutrient deficiencies and natural toxicity of this mineral limits the growth and species of plants that can grow here, and is especially evident on steeper slopes where much thinner soils accentuate these attributes.

While hiking this short loop, opportunities for observing forest creatures including birds and amphibians are abundant and peek-a-boo views at the waterfowl through the forest fringe are frequent. New formed wetlands creep up to the forest bridging the different habitats and increasing the richness of this natural setting. Occasionally you may see other wildlife but you’ll have to be both lucky and quiet. A couple of primitive seats along the path will offer you encouragement to quietly observe and absorb the serenity of this natural setting.

The south end of the loop trail ends at the old roadway that passes over the artificial berm. Beneath the berm, a culvert provides a manmade waterfall that splashes vigorously down the steep, dangerous and formerly cleared slopes, entering the sea directly but far below you. Just to the south of this on the same side of the berm is another trailhead. This trail climbs steeply uphill to the south. Now thickly forested, there are no real distant views to be found despite climbing above Reed Lake and up the eastern facing shoulder of Cypress. If you continue the steep but pleasant forest hike, you’ll find trail connections with Cypress Head and the Airfield Forest. A possible loop could include hiking through the Airfield Forest to the Cypress Mainline and back down to Eagle Harbor.

Whichever way you go, plan to spend some time in this exceptionally pleasant setting. Reed Lake’s easy access and gentle hiking requires little effort in exchange for the wonderful experience that it offers to those who are patient enough to enjoy it.
Written By: Bud Hardwick
On: 3/9/2010

Directions

From either landing in Eagle Harbor (see article this website) hike south on the Cypress Island Mainline. After hiking uphill less than one mile, take the left fork, and in a short distance reach Reed Lake. The trail loop begins and ends on the right side of the old roadway that you are walking on. The one-way trail to the bird blind is also on the right side of this roadway and begins just a few yards beyond the first trailhead for the Lake Trail.

Map

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