PDA

View Full Version : NCT / Manistee River Trail Loop



Odd Man Out
10-11-2015, 21:59
I just hiked the NCT / Manistee River Trail loop. It is one of the most popular backpacking trips in MI. If you go on a weekend with perfect weather in peak color season (as I did), you will not be alone. I think every backpacker and day hiker in MI was there.

I started at Red Bridge at the southern end of the loop. The are parking areas on both sides of the river (south side of road). No permits are required and there are no fees if you park here. It's a 20.2 mile loop - about 10 miles up one side of the river and 10 miles back down the other side. I hiked the loop clockwise, up the short connecting trail to the NCT on the west side. The NCT follows a ridge in the trees so there are not many views and there are some ups and downs. But it is a very pleasant hike. There are no water on this section until you get to Eddington Creek just before the turn on to the MRT connector (pic 1) that takes you down to your first river view (pic 2). Soon you cross the pedestrian suspension bridge (pic 3) and hike down the other side. The river trail closely follows the river for 10 miles so there are numerous viewpoints where you can see the river and the ridge you hiked on the NCT earlier that day (pic 4). You are usually on a bluff above the river, but there are many water sources as you cross creeks and streams feeding into the river, including some small "waterfalls" (pic 5). There are also many downs and ups as you drop in and out of each drainage, but not big climbs. At large camping is allowed all along both sides. The MRT also has many designated campsites, most with views of the river. Some are shown on the on-line map, but at the trail heads there are maps that show the location of many more (I have not found an on-line version of this map). There are also many unofficial camp sites evident. I hiked about 17 miles the first day, camping on a bluff above the river (pic 6). The views on the short hike the following morning were especially good with the sun rising behind me (pic 7, 8).

http://www.michigantrailmaps.com/member-profile/3/127/
http://is0.gaslightmedia.com/michigantrailmaps/original/is90-1397058756-13235.jpeg

32266 32271 32267 32269 32272 32268 32270 32273

sugarlips
10-12-2015, 13:13
I did this about 3 weeks back and everything was mostly still green! Nice to see the colors.

ltwt
11-18-2015, 10:35
This is one of my favorite hikes in Michigan, especially the river trail side, so beautiful. This loop is great for a nice weekend in the woods.

Slosteppin
11-19-2015, 20:59
I've hiked the loop at least a few dozen times. Just a few comments. NCTA also sells a map of the complete loop. Both that map and the Michigan Trail map have a few mistakes. There is a second water source on the NCT (west) side but it can be hard to get to. At Pole Road, maybe 2 miles north of Coates Hwy, several hundred feet east of the trail there is a shallow creek fed by springs. The parking area on the west side of the river and south side of Coates Hwy is for fishers and canoers. There are signs stating that hikers should use the parking area on Upper River Road about a half mile west of the river.

There is another 20 mile loop trail near the village of Fife Lake, maybe 40 miles northeast of Mesick. The Fife Lake Loop is similar to the MRT loop in that the east side is mostly along a water source, Manistee River and Fife Lake Creek. Michigan Trail Maps puts out a very good map o the loop. Most o the merchants in Fife Lake have the map for sale. Old US 131 SF campground is at the south end and SFCG Spring Lake is about 10 miles north on the east side of the loop.

Odd Man Out
11-19-2015, 21:58
...There is another 20 mile loop trail near the village of Fife Lake, maybe 40 miles northeast of Mesick. The Fife Lake Loop is similar to the MRT loop in that the east side is mostly along a water source, Manistee River and Fife Lake Creek. Michigan Trail Maps puts out a very good map o the loop. Most o the merchants in Fife Lake have the map for sale. Old US 131 SF campground is at the south end and SFCG Spring Lake is about 10 miles north on the east side of the loop.

Thanks for this tip. This trail is exactly the same distance from home (just under 2 hrs). I could do this next spring (not into winter hiking in MI yet). Will have to buy the trail map. I bought the one for the MRT but lost it. Used one I downloaded from the Internet instead. Worked OK.

shelb
11-19-2015, 23:21
For Michigan - LOVE this hike! It is the best we have in the Lower Pen.

Odd Man Out
11-20-2015, 10:48
For Michigan - LOVE this hike! It is the best we have in the Lower Pen.

North Manitou Island is pretty good too. Of course that is an island, so maybe it technically isn't part of the lower peninsula?