Explore Ideas - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Ideas Map

Fantastic trail. Started at Seaton Creek. I worked my way south down he MRT. Fantastic views from not only the river banks and overlooks, but inside the forests as well. Fairly rugged terrain, so I recommend a sturdy set of shoes. Also great spots to stop and swim in the river. On the MRT side, campsite 8b is the best. It backs up to the river for easy access to the water, plenty of space, and great shade.

3 days ago

Awesome trip! We stayed 2 nights. Our favorite part was hiking to the west Side of the island near crescent dock and camping there the first night. The sunset was unbelievably beautiful and being on the beach was awesome. You won’t be alone though. There were about 14 others around. The night sky was filled with stars.

Other things to note:
- Black flies were biting on the beach.
- trip cost about $100 for Park and ferry passes and parking.
- ferry took about 90min one way

Start off on the North Country Trail with fresh legs as it’s a bit hilly depending on where you start. We got caught in a monster thunderstorm that ripped the rain fly off of our tent the first night...definitely made for a wet finish. But a great hike for anyone of any skill level.

Great hike. Bring bug spray.

Love this trail! We did 9 miles of the MRT and straight back skipping the NCT. Next time plan to do the whole loop. Do not start at the Marilla trail head like we did, added an extra 2-3 miles and was not scenic. The river is beautiful, you hike up and down ravines, and you can camp over looking the river. We went in late April when it was high 60s and it was really crowded. I would do it again in the fall. People had their bags tied up with rope to avoid bears. We camped about a mile or less from the red bridge on a cliff and it was really open so we could see other campers but it was a great view! All dogs we came across were on a leash which was awesome and hikers were very kind!

7-mile trek from Slagle Creek trail head north to Seaton Creek camp ground. Nice trail crossing several small creeks that cascade down into the Manistee River. Good views of the river from many elevated view points. Last mile past the suspension bridge a little less spectacular but a worthwhile hike. Seasonal two track to Slagle Creek trail head could cause problem for sedan type vehicles.

Did the Penosha and Kahchin trails a couple days ago. Well marked, get paper maps at the gate. All trails start off the parking lot at Bishop Lake. Very few bugs on the day I went, using a basic low-Deet bugspray. Looks like the previously eroded areas others mentioned have been reinforced with rubber [recycled tires?] gradations to prevent future erosion. Saw a few people on the Penosha nearer to the far parking area, but otherwise it was quiet. Great hike in a wooded area. There is a paved half-loop around Bishop Lake that was very scenic. Swimming area at the lake if you plan to cool off afterwards.

Good hike! A lot of sites to see, also a nice lake in the area. Will visit again!

Parked at the south Slagle Creek parking lot with plans to do and out and back hike to the small waterfalls. Walked down a hill, over a pretty wooden bridge, and then the trail wound to the right (north). The trail offers great views of the Manistee River along the way. Note there are one or two areas where the trail is very close to the edge and you have to watch your step. Loads of ferns, several footbridges, people kayaking on the river added up to a wonderful time. There were a few ups and downs, but nothing too extreme. I had knee surgery about 6 months ago and was able to do it, with precautions, especially on the descents. The biggest hill we encountered was the one right before reaching the small waterfalls. I forgot to start recording until a little way into our hike. Would estimate distance from slagle creek parking lot to small waterfalls is about 3.3 miles so 6.6 miles for an out and back.

trail running
29 days ago

We did a trail run loop, parked at the west side of the red bridge (bridge still out). Clocked 20 miles without any side trips, took us 5 hours. It was a very very calm river day - We staged 2 small rafts on the east side and floated across; also could have swam across. Be warned - i could easily see this river having tougher/swifter conditions after a rain. Lovely forest trail with amazing river views. Previous reviews are accurate - NCT side has no water for most of this section. I’d say both sides are same difficulty, NCT has longer ups/downs but MRT has more roots, shorter ups/downs, and harder to navigate due to social trails and campsite side trails (when running we were forced to stop and check several times to ensure on right path). Have fun running among the trees & ferns & mushrooms!

Basically an out and back from Upper River trailhead to Slagle Road campground, totaling ~30 miles. Too bad the loop wasn’t accessible due to the bridge construction. First time out here - definitely a good hike for the Midwest. Some tough hills, especially on the NCT side 2x and nice views on the MRT side. Even took some time to swim in the Manistee River. I’d recommend it.

I adore this trail. I go back time and time again and find new ways to explore and make the most of my time there.

Really good place to go. Mosquitoes are difficult to deal with. The chipmunks are very good at stealing food. The scenery is nice. The trails are nice. Good camping spots along the beach. Overall loved it.

1 month ago

Completed the full 17+ mile loop a few weeks back. Well marked and the trail was very well-maintained. The campsites partway through were nice to stop at for a water resupply. Would rate the trail as challenging due to the numerous hills, but definitely doable. Some beautiful views along the way, though the mosquitoes made it so that our stops were very limited and short-lived. Would highly recommend, just bring some bug spray with you and be sure to dip your tired feet in the lake afterwards.

Currently the loop is closed due to construction of a new bridge at N. Coates Highway but I didn't plan on doing the loop. Arrived around 4 on a rainy Friday, June 15th. Parked at Seaton Campground, there was plenty of available parking. I believe it was $6 a night to park. Just have to fill out the self check in slip located on the information billboards across from the parking lot and drop it in the drop post. The first couple miles were so green and lush after the storm that had just rolled in. Trees, ferns, leaves were dripping wet and had that strong nostalgic pine woody smell. I wore hiking shorts and a dry fit shirt due to the 1,000% humidity even though it was around 68-70 degrees and immediately they were soaked from brushing against the overgrown ferns. There were a handful of people on the trail and the campsites I had passed were mostly empty. I hiked a little over 4 miles and camped at a non designated campsite. There was a steep small trail that lead down to a clearing right on the bank of the river where there was a make shift fire pit and easy access to the water. Across the river was a large dune cliff with dozens of birds flying in and out of their nests. Lightning, thunder, and rain rolled in making sleep pretty peaceful. In the morning, bugs were pretty thick, mostly flies and mosquitoes, only left with a couple a bites. Bug spray seemed to be working fine but the trails were bug free. On the way out, Saturday afternoon now, I must have crossed about 30 people's paths. A few big groups and a few couple/trios. The trail was very clean and well marked except for a few places where I had to backtrack a few feet. Next trip will be in the fall when the leaves are changing and the weather is a little cooler. Should make for a great experience.

Hike this loop 6/2-6/3 for our first overnight backpacking trip. Since the bridge is out on Coates Hwy, we brought 2 cars and parked 1 on each side of the bridge. We started on the west side and hiked the NCT side first. Definitely glad we did since the terrain is a little more up and down on that side of the loop. Got to do it with fresh legs. We only saw 2 or 3 groups of people all day on the NCT. There was only 1 or 2 spots to filter water on this side, so bring plenty of water. We crossed the suspension bridge and set up camp at 2A near the some small waterfalls/cascade. It was a such great spot! Highly recommend this campsite, but there are a lot of them with great views on the MRT side! We finished the last 8 miles or so on Sunday. If I could have done something differently, I would have split the hike into 3 days. It was our first long overnight hike and our feet were pretty sore day 2. Wish we had some more free time to stop and relax/hang out some more. But overall, it was a great hike!

We did our first backpacking trip here the first weekend of June. Four of us and my dog. Great trail for dogs. I would suggest getting trail boots for your pooch to keep their pads from wearing down. Since the bridge is out currently I would suggest parking a vehicle on both sides of the bridge and starting on the NCT side. The terrain on the NCT portion is more challenging and tiring and easier to do on day 1. Definitely bring enough water for day 1 as you won’t find any water sources until you’re almost done with the NCT portion. It’s a beautiful trail with perfect camps along creeks to stumble upon. Definitely hooked now.

Be prepared for Defcon 5-level mosquitoes. Much of the Waterloo side is covered in horse excrement, and the horses also do a pretty good job of tearing up the trail, so parts of it will feel like walking through sand. The Pinckney side has much higher quality trails, both in terms of scenery and trail maintenance. Ran into one person on the trail while hiking during weekdays.

Itinerary: Portage Lake trailhead > Pines campground > Green Lake Campground > Silver Lake. Around 10-11 miles each day for a 3 day/2 night sprint.

Be aware that Green Lake campground is a drive in campsite and there may be plenty of people on the weekends, so try to arrive early as you cannot reserve in advance and must self-register (bring cash, $17).

Pines DOES have water about 1/4 mile north - there is a water spigot near the gate to the stable area.

Green Lake also has a water pump.

Just remember to permethrin your gear, wear deet, and wear long sleeve shirts/pants.

2 months ago

A friend and I did a modified version of this trail and we found it to be great! Trails were marked well, everything was well maintained, and the campsites were clean and beautiful. I did get some bites from mosquitoes but a little 100% deet kept them at bay. Just don’t stay out past dark! Would definitely recommend!

We hiked the NCT/MRT loop this past weekend, 6/1-6/3. This trail was an amazing experience for our first backpacking trip. The Red Bridge was closed so we parked one car on the MRT side and took a 25 minute detour around to park on the NCT side, which was our starting point. I would definitely recommend starting on the NCT side if it’s your first hike due to the terrain. Also we only seen 2 waters sources on the NCT side, one at the beginning and one at Eaton Creek which is at the North end of the trail. The first day we hiked from the red bridge to Eaton creek and camped at a awesome site right off the creek. The second day we hiked from Eaton creek to 4b campsite on the MRT side to allow for a shorter day on Sunday.

All in all it was an amazing trip. I would recommend this trail loop to anyone looking for a great 3 day backpacking trip.

Fun, beautiful and worth going again and again.

2 months ago

Great little loop trail. Lots of nice campsites on the MRT side of the river. The Red Bridge was out, but I was able to hitch a ride from some boaters to complete the whole loop.

2 months ago

Its not a difficult trail but it is a hard trail, that is VERY BUGGY, there is no relief from the mosquitos, the campsites for backpackers are a little tight but they are nice. Again they are not bug free, and it seems like bug spray is like ringing a dinner bell. The hand pump for water at the campsites is however a great bonus, its ice cold, and no it does not have a funky taste. It is definitely challenging, but a good beginner trail for the hobby if the biters slack off later in the season. The 3 stars are because of the bugs.

2 months ago

Good trail for beginners, started at silver lake (marker 1) headed to blind lake camp ground using the shortcut. Camp grounds were nice and clean, but the vault toilet needed a little attention. The addition of having a water pump at site is always great. Finished the loop the next day heading to markers 12, 4, 3, 2, 1. I think the total loop was around 11 miles. All in all great little weekend trip. Mosquitos were the worst I have ever experienced. All staff we ran into were friendly and welcoming.

on Potawatomi Trail

2 months ago

Great beginner backpacking route. Our family (kids age 8, 7, 3) completed the short cut version of this trail over Memorial weekend, this was our kid's first time backpacking. We parked at the Silver Lake trailhead and hiked in to Crooked Lake campground for night 1. Used the shortcut to hike to Blind Lake for night 2. Hiked out past the stone fireplace since we were all ready to escape the still, humid air in the thick woods! We crossed paths with many bikers- most were very courteous. The campgrounds were ok- the pit toilets were in serious need of emptying and cleaning as the ammonia was throat burning (I've used pit toilets in many places-these were the worst I've seen). I had to clean up a handful of glass shards from our Blind Lake site before setting up camp. Also, be sure you have reservations for camping- the rangers were active in checking permits at Blind Lake. We watched some unfortunate soul be asked to leave after a long talk with the staff. The trail itself was great! Well maintained and mostly well marked- marker 10 made us stop and think for a minute though! The trail is challenging- but my 3 year old made it (he hiked most of it on his two feet, he freeloaded rides from mom and dad on occasion). I gave this four stars because, gross camp toilets.

2 months ago

Really nice place to get away!!

The ferry took about 2.5 hours to go from Leland to South Manitou to North Manitou. Check in with the ranger when you get there and listen to what they have to say. Other than that, you’re free to do whatever basically. We went to the south side of the island and did about 8 mi through the woods, stopping at the beach. It wasn’t too thrilling in terms of scenery, though we heard the north side had a lot of cooler things to see and more elevation changes.
Other things to be aware of:
-(If the right season) There will be mosquitoes and lots of them, especially around the lakes,beach, and dock (much less so in the woods). Afterbite and Cortisone is your friend.
- Also, ticks. Tweezers.
- Lotsa lotsa poison ivy, as someone else mentioned. Only the main trails are cleared from it.
- You probably don’t need trekking poles unless you really like carrying them around or need them.
- Cell service is real spotty.
- Do not miss the ferry, they will leave you.
- Be sure to actually read the rules in the website and take food/provisions for an extra 2 days at least. If the weather does get bad, the ferry will not come. The ranger gave a nice horror story about it not coming once for an extra three days.
Overall, it was a really good time, and I would go back.

2 months ago

Went up there on on 5/26. But with the bridge out, we were only able to to a there and back on the MRT side. It was an amazing weekend - crowded but nice.

2 months ago

Excellent trail. Well marked easy to follow with amazing views of the Manistee River. Plenty of camp sites for overnight backpacking trips. I went on a weekday during May so it wasn’t super crowded. Plenty of wildlife,birds etc. good distance for 1 or 2 night trip. The only disappointing thing is the bridge is out at the south end of the trail on Coates road. This makes the MRT/ NCT loop impossible until late August 2018.

Great trail for being so close to home. Much more elevation than you would expect so it's good for a long weekend backpacking hike and training. I did about 15 miles a day for the first two days. I ended up doing about 38 miles when I included hikes to water and camp sites.

Mountain Biking

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