The Manistee River Loop Trail

MODERATE 144 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
4 days ago

This is a great trail with awesome views... The only reason I took it down a star is because it is very busy on the MRT side.. I hiked it on a Monday/Tuesday in the middle of September and I probably saw at least 20 people on the MRT side..As I hiked out Tueday morning probably at least 3/4s of the campsites were full..If your into the social side of hiking this won't be an issue..I really enjoyed both sides of the loop and would rate them about equal as far as difficulty...
I saw a few reviews complaining about trash...I did see a few small items in the campsites but to be honest it is remarkably trash free for the amount of use this trail gets..
The trail needs a few more markers..Maybe the diamonds nailed to the trees are getting stolen or falling off..May be better to go with the rectangle flashes...
I had my dog with me on a leash...Saw a few dogs off leash...We ran into a porcupine about halfway down the Manistee river trail.. I was glad my dog was on leash so it wasn't an issue because they are slow and a dog could be on it before the owner could react...Also people need to remember the leash law is there for a reason...not every dog is friendly with other dogs...
Strange...but there were almost no bugs...I think I saw one mosquito over the two days....I thought it was the wind but that died down at night and still no bugs, so that was awesome...

backpacking
5 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

8 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

13 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

Beautiful trail

14 days ago

Well marked, plenty of gorgeous camp spots...

14 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

backpacking
29 days ago

This trail is not 29 miles, but likely closer to 23 (according to my gps). The NCT portion was difficult as you hike in and out of ravines. I would absolutely suggest doing this portion first since there is zero water and you can easily carry lots of water on fresh legs. On the Manistee River trail has lots of creeks where you can filter and resupply with water. The Manistee River trail isn't as well groomed or marked as the NCT, so there were a few times when I got turned around and had to backtrack. Also, the trail markers switch between white rectangles and metal blue diamonds. I hiked the NCT side on day one and made it a little south of the suspension bridge to camp. I finished the rest of the hike on day 2. It took me 24 hours to hike both sides including sleep. I definitely suggest this trail, especially since it is a loop. It is physically demanding, but worth it.

sea kayaking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

walking
1 month ago

We live near here and walk here frequently. The overlooks are spectacular. Lots of wildflowers and fungi. Perfect for photography. Some campsites along the trail. Maps available for download or purchase.

backpacking
1 month ago

Very nice trail, plenty of areas to pitch a tent/hammock and fall asleep to the sounds of the river