North Country Trail - Manistee River Trail
Loop Hike, May 2009

Day 1

Click here for map, mileage and trail elevation information.

IIn May 2009 my wife took my daughter and fifteen other girls in her Girl Scouts troop to Mackinaw Island for a final troop outing before school let out for the summer. My family and I have been to Mackinaw several times so my son and I chose to forego what was sure to be a weekend full of giggling, screaming and "girly stuff" and opted instead for a hiking trip.

To make sure that this father and son trip was memorable I wanted it to meet several criteria, especially since Mike had never been backpacking and did not own any of his own gear or hiking boots. It needed to be close to home since we only had four days, including travel time, low mileage so Mike wouldn't end up with blisters on his feet, a loop hike so we would not have to deal with a shuttle service and someplace with nice scenery.

My friend and hiking partner, Ken, suggested I check out trails in the Manistee or Huron National forests in Michigan. After a little research I found the perfect place for this hike. Located in the northeast corner of Manistee County is the Manistee River Trail. The MRT is approximately ten miles long and runs parallel to the Manistee River, from which it derives its name, obviously. However, when combined with a section of the 4600-mile North Country Trail, which parallels the Manistee River to the west, the loop is roughly 21 miles in length. This loop provided a perfect combination of terrain difficulty, solitude and great vistas. Our destination was now set in stone. Mike borrowed my backpack and supplies and I borrowed Ken's backpack and miscellaneous gear (sleeping pad, water filter and hiking pole).

After much planning and anticipation the departure day finally arrived. We left home around 7:20 pm and began the four-hour trip north. The trip was uneventful except for a momentary stop to reorient ourselves with a real road map. Go figure, a popular online map service somehow gave us incorrect directions! Not like that has ever happened before... Fortunately, we weren't too far off track and were on the way again within a couple minutes. It began to rain about 30 minutes prior to our arrival at the Red Bridge river access and we were hoping the precipitation would end before we began our hike the next morning. We pulled in around 11:30 pm and listened to the radio for an updated weather forecast but never heard one. It was still raining at this point so we slept in the car so we could start off with dry gear in the morning.

Miles Covered Today: 220

Day 2

This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:27 AM