View Full Version : What section do you recommend in Southern Michigan?

05-18-2014, 11:01
Looking for a 3 day/2 night, 25-30 mile hike in southern Michigan this summer. Basing out of Kalamazoo, so would like it to be a reasonable (2-3 hours?) drive from there. So far, I've seen something on the NCT and Manistee River Trail loop. Loop would be better unless it's easy to get shuttles.

I avg 10-12 miles/day on the AT, about 15+ on more level ground. I've never backpacked in Michigan, so not sure what terrain and daily mileage to expect.

Any recommendations?

05-19-2014, 13:26
I lived in Ann Arbor for 32 years, and there's just not much available in southern Michigan. I never got around to doing the Manistee River Trail, but my research showed it to be pretty straightforward and it is the loop that you're looking for.

The only other alternative might be the 36-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Trail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo-Pinckney_Trail), just northwest of Ann Arbor, which is easily hikeable in 2.5 days. I did this trail at the height of Fall color in October 1999 when there was no one else on the trail. Pretty easy except for some overly sandy sections in the west where it also serves as a horse trail.

05-20-2014, 20:38
I have heard good things about the Manistee River Trail but haven't had the chance to hike it yet--though I plan to this summer. From what I have heard it is just an overnight though... 20 mile loop. Of course since its a loop you can just go around and around until you get dizzy and make the hike as long as you want! :p

Southwest Michigan isn't well known for hiking trails unfortunately. Right out of Kalamazoo you could reach Lake Michigan on the Kal-Haven trail, though it is more of an unpaved bicycling trail with very few camp spots overnight. I am going to be hiking this starting tomorrow mainly just to get some miles in, I will let you know how exciting/boring it is in a few days.

For more information on the NCT Trail in SW Michigan try this site: http://www.northcountrytrail.org/wmi/index.php There are maps available there for a few different sections within a few hours of Kzoo.

05-21-2014, 07:33
The national wilderness area north of Ludington. It connects to the Ludington State Park, Trails a little limited in the wilderness area, but easy to make big miles with a beach walk to the state park and it extensive trails. Wonderful area, dispersed camping within sight and sound of the breaking waves. Expect sand on beach and some areas in state park. Great swimming on a warm day.

Manistee river trail loop is also great, better views on the state eastside trail. Only one water source on the NCT west side. Easy to do in two night, three day.

Alex Stevens
05-22-2014, 01:39
I live near the Kalamazoo area. The NCT is probably the best bet in terms of hikes that are close. If you are only looking for a single overnight hike, doing part of the NCT that runs through Yankee Springs and camping at deep lake is certainly an option.

05-26-2014, 20:10
Over the last 4-5 days I had an opportunity to hike the Kal-Haven and the NCT/Manistee River Trail Loop. The Kal-Haven Trail is not hiker friendly at all... some sections are paved and everything is very hard packed gravel with only one campground along the way that is public. I had to do a 18 mile hike from my apartment and then a 22 mile hike the next day.

The Manistee River Trail Loop was very enjoyable... I know you were shooting for a 2 night hike but I think the Manistee would be worth the compromise of a 1 night hike. There is a fair amount of up and down hills and its quite scenic at points, it is some of the best hiking I've done in the Lower Pennisula of Michigan. Aftering hiking the loop I would highly recommend it.

05-26-2014, 20:48
The MRT/NCT is an easy two day hike. Yes, it is hilly on both sides of the river. It would be easy to add a day by hiking about 7 miles north along the back waters of the Hodenpyl Dam.

We will also soon complete another 20 mile loop hike about 35 miles north of Cadillac (about 180 miles north of Kalamazoo). This Could also be extended by hiking southwest along the Manistee River. New NCT maps available for the area after June 7.

05-27-2014, 11:13
Where can I find the new maps when they are available?

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12-31-2014, 21:36
Where can I find the new maps when they are available?

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Do a google search for: northcountrytrail.org. you can order on line or call and talk with someone. The map MI-05 shows both the MRT/NCT loop and the new Fife Lake Loop. They also have separate map for the MRT loop. NCTA does not plan to make a separate map for the Fife Lake Loop. Michigan Trail Maps will have one out by early summer 2015.