The Manistee River Loop Trail

MODERATE 91 reviews
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The Manistee River Loop Trail is a 29.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Brethren, Michigan that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
29.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2887 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

canoeing

fly fishing

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, campsites are often doubled or even tripled up. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is great. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines. Once in a while you'll see a mountain biker. In the first couple of miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is you can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. You'll cross a couple of roads and reach Eldridge Creek which offers water for the first time along with a decent campsite in some pines on the west side of the creek. After passing the Marilla trail junction you start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. You cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, at the campground (north trail) you might want to stop for water as they offer a well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. You'll more than likely set up camp with a couple neighbors unless you want to be a loner. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping. A great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that you live in Michigan. Keep the great outdoors great and pack out your trash.

backpacking
1 day ago

This was my first backpacking trip.this was a three day trip and it was a good trip. there was good sights to see and good camping spots.

hiking
5 days ago

backpacking
8 days ago

This was my first experience hiking and it was an awesome experience. The NCT is challenging and, for a first time hiker, gives you plenty of time to reflect on every single item in your pack and question its necessity. The MRT offers some beautiful views of the river and forest and my only regret was waiting this long to get out there and explore.

very fun

backpacking
27 days ago

Hiked this last weekend and had a great time! It was a little chilly (at least at night) this time of year. We started with the Manistee Trail. I think this route might be a little more strenuous - more uphill on the NCT this way.

Also, this hike is a 23-mile loop. Not sure why it says 29.6. The GPS might be a little goofy.

backpacking
1 month ago

I did this for my first backpacking trip and it was beautiful. I really enjoyed the Manistee side, lots of nice campsites and views. We got in a bit late and had to hike in a little to find a site as the first few were taken. The Manistee side was definitely busier so I'm glad I saw it earlier in the season.

1 month ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

4.5

2 months ago

backpacking
2 months ago

Did the NCT-MRT loop in a weekend in February. Done MRT once before, also one kayak-packing trip down the Big Manistee River. I would also say this loop is far less than 29 miles, more like 20-23 depending where you start. Conditions this time were snowy on NCT side, and insanely icy on MRT side (seriously consider micro-spikes in winter for MRT) snow seems to linger here more than a lot of the state. However, don't let that stop you from enjoying this place with a lot less traffic. One of the best places to backpack in the LP in my opinion. See a video of our icy trip this past February: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKmMqRa8Gm0&t=41s

hiking
3 months ago

snowshoeing
3 months ago

3 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

Easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan. I've hiked this trail 5-6 times now and I always enjoy it. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, campsites are often doubled or even tripled up. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is my personal favorite. I always start on Saturday mornings at the Red River Bridge, I usually take the NCT (north side) as I enjoy getting more done in the first day and the campsites on the MRT are better. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines. Once in a while you'll see a mountain biker. In the first couple of miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is you can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. You'll cross a couple of roads and reach Eldridge? Creek which offers water for the first time along with a decent campsite in some pines on the west side of the creek. After passing the Marilla trail junction you start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. You cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, I don't waste my time hiking to the campground (north trail) although if you're in a pinch for water you might want to as they offer a well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. I try to set up camp after the suspension bridge and usually settle anywhere after the waterfalls (almost always taken unless you get there before 12-1p). I set up camp and usually fish for an hour or so and bathe in the river even if it's cold, very relaxing after a long hike. You'll more than likely set up camp with a couple neighbors unless you're a horrible trail person and want to be a loner. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping. The next morning I usually wake up before first light and make my way south. The river is beautiful when there is a morning mist after a cold night. You can usually bust out Sunday morning in 3-4 hours and be back to your car before 10a-noon.

A great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that you live in Michigan. I'd even go as far to say one of the best weekend trails in the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana). The only problem I have is how busy the trail is and the garbage that has been accumulating over the last couple of years. It's not too crazy to see a group of young people hike down from the waterfalls parking lot with coolers and I even saw a guy with a Weber grill! Keep the great outdoors great guys.

backpacking
4 months ago

It was great. Get going early to find a good spot to stay the night. Lots of people and dogs but everyone was friendly. I didn't see any bears but was prepared just the same. I want to go back. I also want to kayak the river. The water was so inviting. Make sure and have a lot of water on the dry side.

backpacking
6 months ago

Words cannot describe my love for Manistee. What a gorgeous trail, and the river makes it one of my most favorite places to be. Lot's of people everytime I go, so it isn't the most secluded place and there is a lot of litter left from the ungrateful few. But, don't let that defer you, this place is worth every minute you spend here.