In pre-European settlement times, Native Americans used the river as a travel route. Just under two hours north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the nearly one million acres of forestland are teaming with wildlife, wildflowers, and every kind of mushroom and fungi imaginable. As we came up on our campsite I squinted through the dim light, struggling to make out what I thought was a heron. ), The phone number for the Manistee Ranger Station is, For accommodation in the area, contact the. Now turning north, the first notable feature encountered is the Red Hill Lookout Point (11.5 miles from the trailhead). MyOpenCountry is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Alternatively, scoot a little off trail, away from the river, and get down to some 100%-pure wild camping! Everglades National Park is definitely one place you’ll want to put on your bucket list! I was however congratulating myself on our ultralight gear and packs. I made a mental note that the Manistee River would make a stunning fall kayak camping trip. Travel Light. Check out the illustrated campsite key below for details about each designated camp site. We stopped to rest and wave back at all the happy kayakers who were laughing, waving and singing their way down the river. A 3-mile segment of the NCT is located within this area and mountain biking is allowed on this section of trail. There was no way this trail was only 17 miles! Heading up there in early October with my brother in law! To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller. For a more relaxed experience, visitors will enjoy the lush forest and breathtaking vistas from the many scenic overlooks along the route. From Hodenpyl Dam Pond the Manistee River winds south uninhibited and free in the Manistee National Forest for 13 miles before a road crosses it. However, salmon season is particularly busy on the river. To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller. The Pine River has the fastest average flow of any river in lower Michigan. Frill-free is the name of the game. The Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail connector is also the site of the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan. A short, 7-mile hike along the bluffs of the Au Sable River will provide day hikers with some of the best, and most dramatic, views of the Au Sable River, where hikers or skiers will be able to look over the river valley, with clear views almost to Lake Huron in some spots. Further inland visitors can go to Hoags Lake and enjoy a day of swimming, picnicking or fishing. About a mile after our directional challenges my body was strongly objecting to any further hiking. More than 20 backcountry campsites and established campgrounds dot the Manistee River Trail Loop, as seen in this map from the USDA Forest Service. However, next time we’ll take the trail. Happy Hiking! It is the last campsite before coming to the suspension bridge. While we’re all for winging it and choosing camping spots spontaneously, on this hike it’s a good idea to have a few potential camping locations in mind before arriving. Visit for more information. People have enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Au Sable for hundreds of years. The designated portion of the river contains a unique riparian landform with its deeply incised river channel and high, exposed sand banks. for 3 miles. At this point I was sure the information I got off the internet was terribly wrong. Continue north on the NCT for an additional 8.5 miles from the Red Hill Lookout until you reach the intersection of the MRT and NCT at the suspension bridge. I smiled as we drove away, happy at our good fortune and excited to come back and hike it all over again. Location -  Manistee River, Manistee River Trail, Campgrounds - Seaton Creek, Manistee River Primitive Camping - 43 sites - Red Bridge. No permit is required to camp at the free primitive campsites spread along the MRT. At the fork in the road, veer right and travel north on FR 5993 for 0.4 miles to the campground. Scenery is one of the most outstanding attributes of the river. Manistee River, suspension bridge, waterfall. 22 miles from Marilla trailhead and back. Over the next several hours we hiked through lush forests, grasslands, swamps, fern valleys, and bluffs. On the east side of the river lies the Manistee River Trail, on the west side a portion of the North Country Trail. There are a number of dispersed fishing access sites along the river, some of which allow camping. The trail begins in Empire near Lake Michigan, on the west side of the state and ends at Lake Huron on the eastern side of the state. You’re in the right place! During the summer the river is popular with canoers and kayakers, while during the fall salmon season, sites such as Suicide Bend and Sawdust Hole are popular with anglers. Permits are required for commercial, event or large groups (75 people or more). We only saw three cars and two hikers for the rest of the day, but we welcomed the quietude. A 3-acre lake is located within the area. I couldn’t get over how many colorful mushrooms, fungi and uniquely shaped ferns grew along the trail! There is a nice open area with trees and plenty of flat clear space for multiple tents. Clean and full bellied, we fell into our bags, more than ready for a long night’s sleep. Camping, fishing and boating facilities are accessible from the byway. The 128.8-mile portion of the NCNST that goes through the Manistee portion of the National forests has 15 spur trails to other forest hiking and interpretive trails. The only redeeming song in their disgusting repertoire was “Sweet Home Alabama.” Most people come out here for serenity so please be courteous if you bring a radio. The Manistee River between Tippy Dam and the M-55 Bridge was designated as a National Recreational River in 1996. Oh, and then there’s the river itself, which, we should add, is a bit of a looker too…. Dispersed campsites along the Manistee River Trail are free while a site at Seaton Creek is $14 a night. The Au Sable National Scenic River stretches 23-miles, from Mio to Alcona Pond. The North Country Trail system is no stranger to gushing praise. Highbanks campground was full so we hiked back a half mile and found some flat ground in the woods to set up camp. The Manistee River Trail Loop is among, if not the best backpacking trail in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with vista views of the Manistee River and surrounding area. Usually we would have pressed on to get further away from other campers, but my whining had reached an obnoxious decibel and Travis, anxious for my sniveling to end, agreed to stop. This is a popular campground during fishing season. A waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers. Hiking down the long straight roadway got mundane at times, but we also saw some beautiful scenery and cute creatures. After arriving at Seaton Creek Campground, head northwest for 1.4 miles towards the suspension footbridge and the Manistee River Trailhead. Wildlife species that commonly inhabit this area include white-tailed deer, bobcat, coyote, red fox, raccoon, porcupine, squirrels, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and various songbirds.

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