The wide path down Hogsback Mountain led me back to the railroad grade a short distance south of where I left it earlier. While the path continued ahead of me something of interest drew my attention to the right. The large, swampy Wetmore Pond stretched out to me along the railroad grade, luring me away from the path. I turned south on the grade again, walking along the western edge of the pond.
The views from the grade were pretty amazing. Wetmore Pond is a great example of a Huron Mountain swamp, with thick grasslands, rocky outcroppings, and a few deeper portions of water with lilies clustering on the outskirts. While the grade was lined with a thick cover of brush, there was several clear portions that offered me great vistas of the wetlands. I'm unsure if the main trail to Hogsback Mountain, which goes along the northeastern shoreline, offers similar views with the grade in the background.
I continued south along the grade even as the pond started to end to my left. A culvert underneath the grade connects the pond to another swamp further to the south, but the majority of the water skipped the culvert and just sat on top of the grade. Inching along the shallower edge of the grade a bit further brought me to a four wheeler path leading east, back towards Sugarloaf Mountain and my car.
My luck wouldn't let me take an easy way out of the area - the path quickly ended at a no-trespassing sign. I cut away to the northeast, slowly climbing another rocky mound until I got a nice view of a southern swamp and a small firepit built from local rocks. Worried now that I was venturing too close to the houses south of the Sugarloaf parking lot, I curved more north, first scrambling up an overgrown rock face then gingerly poking through a muddy waterlogged forest.
It was well after noon by the time I burst out of the nasty brush and finished the large loop. Wet from the bushwhacking and drizzle, tired from the hike, I crumbled into the front seat of my car and munched on some granola bars. Overall the hike was completely worth it. My cut from Wetmore to Hogsback could have easily included Little Presque Isle, adding in a few miles, though the cold temperatures and high waters would have made crossing to the island a difficult venture. I'd recommend this hike to anyone interested in a challenging, scenic adventure just north of Marquette.