The tread is to tread upon — stay on it.

It’s not in the Scotchmans, but you can see the proposed wilderness from there —Scotchman itself, and Clayton and Mikes and Star Peak. As you near the top of the Mickinnick, a bit more of the Scotchmans comes into view, but even from the first set of benches, they are seen as part of the spectacular line of mountains stretching north to south on the far side of the lake.

The Mickinnick is a great trail. I use it during the spring to train for more ambitious pursuits in the wilderness. Hump up that baby two or three times a week with a couple rocks in your pack and your legs, lungs and cardiovascular system will pay attention, I tell you. It’s also a great spot to hunt for puff balls in May, and the place is resplendent with wildflowers practically from the moment the snow goes off.

In summer, I abandon the Mickinnick for other elevation changes. The call of the Scotchmans from mid-June until the snow flies is deafening from where I live, and I succumb to the Sirens of Blue Creek on at least a weekly and sometimes a daily basis. But, come fall, especially during hunting season and until the snow is deep enough for snowshoes or, even better, skis, I return to that beautiful tread ascending the ridge south of Sand Creek.

So, I had about five months of perspective when I made my first fall forray up the Mickinnick today. I haven’t been on it since early June, and what I noticed was disturbing and somewhat maddening. The corner cutters have been at work this summer and the damage they are doing is becoming very distinct.

A bunch of people worked very hard, most without pay, to put that tread where it is. It is a marvelously engineered trail, laid with great skill and lots of sweat, plus a few tears and probably even some blood. It was built in memory of Mick Pleass, a man who loved the outdoor life and the Earth so much that he and his wife Nicky donated the piece of property that most of the trail is built upon. Have some respect for him, for her, for the beautiful place the trail runs through and for the people who built it.

Are you a corner cutter? If you are, stop it! Corner cutters identify themselves as ignorant, lazy or both, and contribute to the ruination of an otherwise beautiful place. If you are hiking the trail, stay on the tread. If you are biking the trail, stay on the tread. If you have to walk your bike past some rough spots, going up or coming down, stay on the tread. It might mean a little extra work on your part, but that can’t match the work that went into making this place ready for you to hike and ride.

Mind your trail manners on the Mickinnick, in the Scotchmans or on any trail. Don’t cut corners. Thank you.

— Sandy Compton

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Categories: Blog
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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