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If you are looking to spend time in the sleeping bear dunes area with some degree of seclusion, this is the place for you! Four days was just enough time to hike the trail and enjoy all there is to offer from the island. The other reviews stand true and cover most of the bases. I highly recommend NMI!

2 days ago

Got a little lost on an unfinished trail, but in a good way. Great because you can walk 2 miles or 20 miles.

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.

Great, simple trail to do with our yellow lab! We did the small loop and came across a great view with a crystal clear lake where you can literally see fish swimming! Frogs and a small snake also greeted us along the way.

backpacking
9 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.

trail running
13 days ago

Great way to start the day, awesome views, good ascent/descent (approx 670ft of ascent from trailhead following the advanced loop, minus the 0.8 mile “scenic overlook” of Big Glen). Thought the island view was lights-out.

The best views

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.

Beautiful views and the informational signs were very helpful to understand the landscape and history of the area.

backpacking
1 month ago

This was a gorgeous trail! It's well marked and except for a few mild hills it was pretty level. In most places the trail was wide and smooth enough for me to be able to enjoy the scenery instead of watching my footing.
I camped at Lake 1. The lake has a clay bottom so not really suitable for swimming but it was pretty! There are 2 vault toilets. There's a pump but no handle so I filtered water from the lake.
I did the full loop starting from Guernsey Lake but be aware that the campsites cam be reached from the Sand Lakes parking area with just a short walk. This meant that I had some partiers sharing the area even though it was Tuesday.
I would definitely rate the trail more towards the easy end.

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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

Nice wooded trail with sand and gravel pathways, great if walking with young kids. You may struggle a little bit if you bring a stroller with small wheels (like a small umbrella stroller) but we made our way along pretty well with a wagon!

Lake Michigan overlook is unreal. And enjoyed the cottonwood trail as well.

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.

Easy nice walk, but be ready for the mosquitoes.

Some great views from the top.

Nice trail, took my dog, not too strenuous but still a good workout. Good views, flora and fauna. Turkey popped out of the bushes and scared me half to death but it was funny. Saw a couple deer too which was a bonus.

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.

nature trips
1 month ago

Very interesting trail due to all the downed trees. A nice variety of birds including a Bald Eagle from the islands overlook. A black squirrel, a mole and several chipmunks were also spotted. Easy enough for kids 8 and up or even a little younger if they are used to hikes. Not the best trail in the area but in the top 10.

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.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful! Great hike and a nice distance. Brought both of my dogs and they did well, but I brought some water for them. I heard it gets busy during the summer time, but there was barely anyone there this past week. Incredible views at the top that show what Northern Michigan is made of.

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.

backpacking
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.

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