North Manitou Island Loop is a 13.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Maple City, Michigan that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from May until October.
Backcountry Camping Regulations are in effect on North Manitou Island. A backcountry permit and fee payment must be completed before camping. Permits are available on the island and on the mainland. Groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people. The small Village Campground contains eight designated campsites, two fire rings and one outhouse. There is a limit of two tents and four people per site. Camping is allowed in wilderness area. Open fires are prohibited in the wilderness area. Use gas or alcohol stoves. Fires are permitted in the community fire rings at the Village Campground.
This was my first time out on North Manitou. We had a 9 day trip planned that went till Memorial day. This was just after the horribly long winter of 2013 so the ferries didn't start running until a week before we went due to ice on the lake. I took my a friend of mine as well as my father-in-law with me to start the trip. Both are classic over packers but we also were establishing a base camp for a 10 day trip that would eventually be taking care of a dozen people by the end of the trip. Needless to say, we got a few chuckles lugging our gear off the ferry from the people leaving the island.
After hearing a little lecture from the rangers we carried out gear about a mile to the established camp sites and setup camp. At this point, there were 7 people on this island, 3 from my group, 2 solo hikers, and 2 rangers. It was deathly quiet and beautiful. The rangers would swing by the campsites about twice a day to check the one outhouse and probably boredom. They were a lot of fun and incredibility laid back. One day, when the weather was really bad, they offered the garage were they lecture out of so that we didn't have to stay couped up in a tent all day. During my stay, I bushwhacked out to one lake and completed 3 loops of the interior trail. I also was able to capture plenty of beautiful photos.
In May, the trilliums are in bloom, the poison ivy hasn't come out yet and garter snakes aren't moving. We had almost no mosquitoes. It really was the perfect time to go.
By the 6th day, we started to get more people to the island as well as our party. This was the first time my niece went camping with no electricity which was a goal of my wife and I. All in all, a wonderful trip that I can't wait to do again!
Beautiful place! The ferry ride was about 1.5 hours to the island where we listened to a short island informational talk from a ranger and confirmed our permits.
Not many places to get water- so we used our sawyer mini and filtered from the lake!
The water was high this year so our original plan to hike the side of the island was rethought and rerouted.
We camped up near the top of the island at Popple on the first night with a swarm of mosquitoes (it was the beginning of July so it was to be expected) and some flies. Rain came the first night but the amount of tree cover really lightened how much actually hit our camp.
The second night we were at Weather Station. The chipmunks rule the land there so bear bag it up all day and night. They are fearless...!
Because of the high water we set up camp and went back along the dunes for a day hike to the shipwreck. (I strongly encourage you to make this hike). Was fairly easy and if you had water shoes it would be even better.
Great few days all around. Beautiful sights, hikes, and life.
What an amazing hike with a lot of variation. The Dune Climb is exhausting; the hike to the Cedars is inland and shaded; the hike along the point is coastal and open with great birding opportunities. All the trails I ran across were well-groomed and the camping spots were excellent. Highly recommended.