Undaunted by the cold weather this weekend, a party of three intrepid backpackers conquered the Manistee River Trail and enjoyed all of it’s amazingly brilliant autumn colors. We drove up Friday night and arrived around 9:00. Though we were unrested and had no sun light, it was decided these things were luxuries while hiking and we just couldn’t wait. We donned our packs and headlamps and immediately punched out a few miles before setting up camp.
On Saturday the weather started out a little harsh with strong winds and rain, but it didn’t last past lunch. Throughout the day we had a non-stop jaw dropping view of the river valley with a backdrop of endless forest of insanely awesome fall colors. We crossed the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan and got onto the North Country Trail to complete our weekend loop. We set up camp just off the trail and with a bit of work succeeded in starting a fire with waterlogged wood to warm the night. Sunday left us with just a short distance to cover in the morning and the drive home (stopping in Grand Rapids for Thai food).
In total we covered 20 miles. The two trails (Manistee River and North Country) make for a perfect loop that is not at all difficult for a weekend. Be warned that there are not really any sources of water on the North Country side (Plenty on Manistee River side), nor are the views nearly as good. For this reason I would start on the North Country Trail and end on Manistee River in the future. Trying to time a trip to coincide with fall colors might be tricky, but it’s worth it.
For more information on planning a Manistee backpacking trip, click here.