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