The Manistee River Loop Trail is a 19.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Mesick, 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.

Length19.3 miElevation gain1,912 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingFishingHikingNature tripsSnowshoeingForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBugs
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Getting There

The Manistee River Loop Trail is easily one of the best backpacking trails in Lower Michigan outside of the peninsula of Michigan area. It is almost always busy on the Manistee River Trail side, where campsites are often doubled or even tripled up to accommodate all nature lovers. The waterfall site 2 miles south of the suspension bridge is a great spot to enjoy the stars and fall asleep listening to the falls. Be sure to pack water as it is quite the hike up, down, and around the ravines throughout this trail and potable water is not always available. During the first few miles there are some decent sights in the higher hills especially near reds hill. The nice part of the NCT is users can camp anywhere really, although camping in a ravine isn't too rewarding. Users 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, users start heading to the MRT and finally get to see the Manistee River after about 9 miles of hiking in ravines. Users then cross over the Suspension Bridge and reach the MRT, at the campground along the north trail where users might want to stop for water as they offer a potable well. The MRT hugs the river for the duration of the southward trip back to red bridge. While enjoying this trek, it is a good idea to set up camp with a couple neighbors to practice safe camping, especially if attempting this route alone. The sound of the river and the proximity of the campsites to water make for an easy night of sleeping, especially along the MRT side of the river, where high and dry sites are perched with amazing views of the river. If using the MRT side of the river for the trek, users should know that this side has more hills, so you definitely get a workout. Trekking poles are a must for the whole trail because of the hills that are sometimes steep and slippery - no matter the season. Be aware that the campsites on the MRT are full in the summer. This is a very popular and great trail that is well worth a drive anywhere that users live in Michigan. Please remember to keep the great outdoors great and pack out your trash, and to leave no trace of your use to preserve the Huron Manistee National Forests for others.

Travel Michigan, MI Economic Development Corporation, 4225 Miller Road, Ste. 4 , Flint, MI, 48507-9821, Phone: 888-784-7328 Michigan Travel Bureau, P.O. Box 30266 , Lansing, MI, 48909, Phone: 517-373-0670

Directions from Mesick, MI: North: Take M-37 south for 6 miles . Turn west on 26 Road (near Yuma) and drive 3 miles turning right on O'Rourke Drive. Proceed on O'Rourke Drive for 1.3 miles to the Seaton Creek Campground.

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Reviews (728)
Photos (1,715)
Activities (602)
Completed (1,253)
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Alexandria Midcalf
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 17, 2021
Hiking

Amazing!! Did the whole loop as a day hike and completed it in 6 hours and 10 minutes, including a 5 minute break. Absolutely beautiful trail!

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Suzette Garvey
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Nature tripsGreat!

Gorgeous trail. North trail can be quite steep at certain points. Will definitely be back for south trail views.

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Benita Meekhof
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Hiking

great shape. hills

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Roger Brodeur
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BackpackingGreat!

This weekend I did my first ever overnight backpack trip. The campsites on the MRT side of the river are fantastic! High and dry with amazing views of the river. I parked at the Red Bridge Trailhead and hiked about 6 miles on Friday evening until almost dark, then enjoyed a great night's sleep with the sound of the river flowing. On Saturday I had breakfast and started north to the suspension bridge. There I took a break for about an hour having lunch, made coffee, and replenished my water supply from the river (Sawyer Squeeze filter). There is almost no water on the NCT trail, so be ready for the 9 miles. That side has a lot more hills, so you definitely get a workout. Trekking poles are a must for the whole trail because of the hills that are sometimes steep and slippery. Be aware that the campsites on the MRT are full in the summer. This was an excellent choice to test out my new hiking/camping gear and learn what works and what doesn't.

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君曦 張
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 22, 2021
HikingGreat!IcyMuddy

We hiked the loop in one day and took about 8hours on 3/21. The weather was perfect and sunny but still icy and muddy in some of the areas. The best part is the view along the Manistee river trail! The north county trail is more hilly and challenging. Overall it’s a great trail, highly recommended!

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Doug Moore
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Hiking

Great trails and perfect inSpring. Muddy but no skeeters!

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Chris Mattern
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Hiking

Very nice loop to complete over 2-3 days. Plan ahead for water on the NCT section. Trekking poles were a lifesaver on the icy parts as I hiked this mid March.

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Lu Li
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Hiking

great hike with beautiful river view along the way.

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Simon Albaugh
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HikingGreat!Snow

I completed this trail when there was about 1.5' of snow on the ground. Doing this during a harsh winter was just the challenge I needed, but definitely a little too challenging for me. The snow made spending the night on the trail a little too hazardous since I wasn't so prepared when it came to my gear. But what made hiking this really interesting was how many people I ran into during my time on the trail. Without making any disastrously sweeping generalizations, the hiking community in Michigan can be a fairly friendly bunch even during harsh conditions. Despite the great trail and great people, the gear problem I ran into (forgot a sleeping mat) was just a little too tough for me. I ended up hiking into the trail and slept shivering a little too close to the snow, so the next day, I just finished the whole trail (2 miles on day one, and the rest on day two). This is a trail that can be done in one day for the most physically fit, but can only be truly enjoyed when it's split up a bit more evenly. I'd recommend carefully gauging what gear you need for 2-3 days, and taking it slow to enjoy the scenery and meeting other hikers. During the winter, be mindful of your body temperature and where you get your water. Even though it can be warm while hiking, the nights went below freezing. Also, a lot of water sources were frozen or covered in ice. This is a great trail to go on with a friend who's new to backpacking, or just by yourself if you're a bit more experienced. If you want the challenge of doing the whole thing in one day, it's very possible, especially during the longer daylight hours of the summer.

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Amy Norton
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@ Hopsandhiking
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BackpackingGreat!

Probably the best trail in the Lower Pennisula. Some great campsites along the river. Good amount of elevation with some amazing views.

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Amy S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 16, 2021
Hiking

This was my first time on the trail, and with the heavy wet snow last night and this morning, it was spectacular. An absolutely gorgeous hike, accompanied by the peaceful sound of the river and its offshoots.

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Lu Li
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Andrew Slager
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Ashley Marie
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Hiking

amazing trail! No people in sight from 1 to 5pm!!! Ellie my pup enjoyed it too! Into the forest we go to lose our minds and find our souls! Life is what you make it!

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Sean H
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HikingGreat!
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Matt Dykema
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HikingGreat!

Looking for a Canon Rebel camera might of left on trail. It is in a soft sided case. Please! I am an idiot. December 6th, 2020.

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Gabriel Morris
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RunningBlowdownGreat!

By far the most technical trail I've ever ran, did 10 miles from the suspension bridge south out and back

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David Ragland
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

Awesome weekend backpack hike! Loved everything about it. Started off from the Upper River Trailhead Friday around 12:30. Hiked north on the North Country Trail. Loved the woods and the nice elevation change. Easily made it up to Eddington Creek just before 4, found a great site for the night. Saturday we headed towards the Manistee River Trail around 10ish. We took our time and enjoyed the scenery. Quite a few day hikers, as to be expected on a perfect day. We made camp for the night just south of Slagle Creek. Awesome spot! Sunday we had less than 5 miles back to Upper River. Outstanding hike, definitely could be done in 1 night or even in a day but making a weekend of it was well worth it!! Can’t wait to do it again! River views were amazing and plenty of spots to filter water. Even had a little time to catch a nice brown trout along the way, all the trout streams leading into the Manistee are amazing!! Unbelievable trail loop! Love it!

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Cory Van Natta
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Brian Florczak
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Hiking

Saved this in two sections. Accidentally saved the first section.... Started on NCT, did 9mi with a late a start in the day. Good hills, beautiful scenes of fall in full effect! Second day, did 10 more mi. Camped along the river, probably could have just went back to the car but it was too beautiful to not camp another night! Busy trail overall, it must be PACKED in summer! Saw at least 12-15 groups of people.

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Brian Florczak
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Cory Van Natta
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Glenn Soules
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Nolan faber
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Cory Van Natta
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