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

West Michigan Map

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
7 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!

8 days ago

Completed this loop counterclockwise. It was very intense at times and was no easy task to complete. 20+ miles in two days was difficult, but rewarding overall. This is the perfect weekend backpacking trip and there is a campground about halfway around the loop trail.

Lots of bugs was being swarmed by at least 10 flys the entire walk was annoying so tired around and went home

10 days ago

Great walk with a buddy! It dead ends at the ‘turn around’. It’s nothing but mushy marshland, but you get a different perspective on the hike back to the beginning.

11 days ago

This is the red trail loop at Ft Custer. This is a really beautiful trail, lots of changing scenery! As with the green trail, it is mostly very narrow and lots of blind curves, so if you're a hiker I would recommend hiking towards bike traffic. Stay alert and get out of the way... in my experience on these trails, bikers don't have much time to slow down.

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.

Fun for the whole family.

mountain biking
15 days ago

This trail was a great work out but it was so much fun I really didn't care. Great downhill, going uphill had the perfect upgrade. Did all the trails except the black one (sawtooth I believe). To top it off I got to see 2 fawns. Can't wait to go again.

Best trails ever! Well maintained, easy to read signage, wonderful clean restrooms.

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.

A fun few shaded miles of wooded elevations with a couple dune-top lookout decks. Midpoint stairs that decend to a secluded beach on Lake Michigan. The trail is trodden enough that I hiked the path out barefoot after swimming.

What I liked so much about this hike is the diversity of environments you'll travel through. The Island Trail is quite beautiful (if very short) with lakes on either side. Once you veer off the Island trail and in to the Ludington dunes area, it's like entering a new world. Though the dunes are difficult, it is quite scenic and unlike anything I had seen in Michigan thus far.

The best part of the trek was the hiking along the beach. Lake Michigan is beautiful, and the beach is completely clear of stones/rocks once you hit the Nordhouse part.

Note that there doesn't seem to be any designated/official trail between Ludington and Nordhouse. You'll be mostly on your own navigating through the dunes though there are some makeshift trails every now and then. Luckily it's hard to get lost with Hamlin on one side, Lake Michigan on the other, and the lighthouse visible from many of the crests. The hike along the shore is as straightforward as humanly possible.

There are plenty of decent camping spots in the Nordhouse area along the beach. The treeline runs close to the shore. Unfortunately there were tons of people who had set up shop before me, and I had to do some searching to find a spot.

NOTE: Nordhouse is part of the Manistee National Forest which allows for dispersed camping, meaning you can camp anywhere (with some stipulations on distance from water sources that no one seems to follow). Ludington REQUIRES a reservation if you want to camp in the State Park and does not allow for dispersed camping. There's only one rustic campground meant for backpackers/tent campers.

I also learned that parking in the state park requires overnight permits which can be sorted out through the main office, booth, or dump station office. Woops.

The 20 mile loop can be done easily in a two day/one night trek.

Great Train, been hiking it since I was little.

Hands down the best hike I've ever been on, and Michigan has a LOT of gorgeous hikes! I've made it an annual tradition to get here. DO NOT give up without crossing the dune, you will be rewarded with a view that rivals sleeping bear dunes!

21 days ago

Not my favorite...easy park start with well groomed trial, then a lot of “road.” Not my favorite but a nice walk if you need a quick one.

I read reviews and knew it was moderate but the entrance I started at was up hill for a long time and wasn’t expecting it. Horseflies were horrible, so we only did the green path. The paths were marked very well. I will have to give this one another try.

A great trail. peaceful. A very enjoyable afternoon. I took my time, and enjoyed every minute of it.

This is a fantastic Mtn. bike trail! It is chalanging with great flow.

26 days ago

Amazing ride on a MTB, awesome hike, too! Challenging but not crushing, you’ll feel it!

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.

cross country skiing
27 days ago

A hidden gem of a park with deer, raccoon, cranes, and chickadees through the winter. It boasts surprising vistas with tall, deep forests in between and after a fresh snowfall it is gorgeous.

Absolutely stunning trail! Some inclines that get your heart rate up, but the views are beyond worth it. Trail is very well marked and easy to navigate. I recommend going in reverse numerical order so that you hit the beach on the first half and end the hike with the gorgeous scenic overlooks. Would definitely visit Frankfort again just to hike this trail.

27 days ago

Rain came down on us the entire first day but the trail held together and bugs were about zero. Went clockwise on the trail which took us up and down the ridge. This was the longer of the two halves. We stayed at the campground overnight which was full, but quiet nonetheless. The second day and second half I found a bit more technical and a ton more fun than the first day. Some fairly challenging trail formations and neat obstacles. The last 4/10th of a mile is no joke!!! Will definitely go back.

27 days ago

Great trails for the fitness walker, not for leisure. Hills, curves, rocks, beautiful woods make this great. Just make sure you walk opposite the bikers to see them coming!

28 days ago

This hike was great. The views all around the trail were absolutely stunning. Not as buggy as I was expecting which was a plus.

Gravel nice for family. If you're out to get a good run it it's great. Lots of steps

Love it! Great family fun time!!

Well marked, easy trail. Dune is stunning—as they all are in Betsie and Leelanau counties. Such grand beauty with so little effort. And though the dune at trail’s end is the main attraction, the forest along the way features large beech and maple, many with unusual shapes and contortions. Bonus!

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