Michigan

Entering Michigan from Ohio the first completed segment of NCT is within the Lost Nation State Game Area near Pittsford.  The route then threads through a mix of forest and farm country and is a mix of road walks and completed segments. Off-road trail exists in Fort Custer National Cemetery (near Battle Creek), Yankee Springs State Recreation Area (near Hastings) Middleville and Barry State Game Areas.  In Lowell, hikers can walk down East Main Street and stop in at North Country Trail headquarters to purchase some official trail gear.  Heading north from Lowell, hikers will travel through two more areas with built trail before arriving at the southern boundary of the Manistee National Forest. These include the Lowell State Game Area/Fallasburg County park segment just outside of the city of Lowell and the Rogue River Game Area near Rockford.

Hikers get their first glimpse of the Northwoods in the Manistee National Forest.  Within Manistee National Forest, enjoy sandy soils that support a pine-hardwood forest and great hiking along the Manistee River Trail, which forms a great loop hike opportunity.  The NCT leaves the Manistee National Forest near the Hodenpyl Dam Pond which features a fabulous new (2009) trail along the Hodenpyl Dam Pond and Manistee River.  Continuing south of Traverse City to Kalkaska the NCT is routed through state forest land (the Pere Maruette SF) which offer a number of year round recreation opportunities.  The next jewel along the NCT is the Jordan River Pathway, which offers a scenic loop hike near Alba.  From here the trail heads towards Petoskey through the Mackinac State Forest.  North of Petoskey wonderful hiking opportunities exist in Wilderness State Park, where the trail follows the Lake Michigan shoreline. As one leaves Wilderness State Park and heads towards Mackinaw City the lights of Mackinac Bridge become visible.

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In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the trail changes from a pathway through rural landscapes of rolling farmlands to a wilderness track.

St. Ignace and the “Big Mac” bridge, which can only be crossed on foot during the famous Labor Day Bridge Walk.  To cross the bridge the rest of the year you’ll need to contact the Mackinac Bridge Authority

The U.P.’s prime scenery includes large lakes, old growth forests, rugged hills and the Lake Superior shoreline, all set amid some of the most remote, uninhabited country found on the North Country Trail.  From St. Ignace the trail heads through the eastern unit of the Hiawatha National Forest towards Tahquamenon Falls State Park (home to the second largest waterfall in the eastern United States).  Continuing west, the trail passes through Muskallonge Lake State Park and Lake Superior State Forest towards Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Within Pictured Rocks, enjoy the 43-mile Lakeshore Trail along the Lake Superior shore, one of the greatest hits of the entire North Country Trail.  West of Pictured Rocks the trail enters the western unit of the Hiawatha National Forest passing through public and private lands before reaching Marquette.  West of Marquette the trail passes through Presque Isle City Park, McCormick tract Wilderness, Craig Lake State Park, Copper Country State Forest, Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness and cuts through historic copper mining sites near Old Victoria.  Once entering the Ottawa National Forest segments run along the Black River canyon, towards the wild country of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The NCT leaves Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the community of Ironwood.

{ 55 comments }

andrea May 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

Hi Pam,

There is a nice suspension bridge over the Two Hearted River. Is that what you were thinking? We also have the Little Mack suspension bridge in the Lower Peninsula.

http://www.backpacker.com/destinations/hikes/536117

htagg@frontier.com October 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I meet a man in Brethren, MI today. He was waiting for a package. I was impressed that he has covered so many miles since April this year. He started in Cincinnati, Ohio and is heading his way back that way. He said he was off the trail for 32 days after contracting lime disease. He said he has walked many national trails. I will keep him in my quiet prayers and wish him well.

Traca Bartholomew August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

I walk the trail from Freesoil south. I know that there is no permit fee parking your car at the Freesoil trailhead. I hope this will help you.

randy dupont July 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I’m planning an early September hike from Freesoil to Tippy Dam, is there any “special” info I need to know? The FS.USDA site was confusing, do I need an Interagency permit? How about campfires, any special rules/restrictions? Do I need a permit to park my car at Freesoil?
Thanks!

Pam July 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I would like to take my grandson on the suspension bridge that is found on NCT in the UP. Can you tell me where to get on the trail for this? We have limited vacation time…and there is so much to see!
Thanks

Brandon July 17, 2013 at 11:49 pm

So i just got back from the u.p. for the first time. I fall in love from everything from the clture to history and beauty. I ran across the nct many times and thought and thought and now i think i want to do it. But i have NO idea where to start. What i need to take where time frame how many miles a day how long it will take etc. where do i start. And i would be going alone. Is that a good idea.

mdavis February 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

It’s 1150 miles…about 400 in the UP and 750 in the Lower Peninsula!

mdavis February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

I would suggest you type in hiking and Lansing in a search on meetup.com!

mdavis February 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

There are about 1150 miles of the NCT in Michigan…about 750 in the Lower and 450 in the Upper Peninsula. More completed trail; however, is found in the Upper Peninsula because of the abundance of publicly-owned lands.

mdavis February 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

Generally speaking, tent camping is allowed along the NCT although there are places that require backpackers camp in designated campsites – e.g. State Parks. Bears are abundant along most of the NCT route. NCT hikers should follow Leave No Trace practices for keeping food and “other smellies” away from animals like bears while camping. For more info, visit http://lnt.org/blog/hanging-bear-bag.

randy dupont February 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

Can anyone tell me the overall distance of the NCT in the Michigan section? If you have the mileage broken down into upper and lower peninsula that would be great.
Thanks!

Connie Julien January 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

The number of miles that the NCT traverses in Michigan should be included on this page!

Marlene Mullet December 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

Is tent camping allowed anywhere along the NCT? Also are there a lot of bears in the areas where the trail runs through?

Nancy Wilson November 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I am interested in joining a mid-Michigan based (near Lansing) hiking club to train for Machu Picchu in October, 2013. Any suggestions?

radavis November 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

This area falls under our Superior Shoreline Chapter. Feel free to contact them direct at ssc@northcountrytrail.org. Hope this helps!

Craig Mulhinch November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hi,
I am considering snowshoeing in February the NCT starting from Deer Park and heading west. Maybe 3 hours or so and the returning. What should I expect?
Take care,
Craig

David Turner August 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I would also add that in order to camp during permissible times that you have to get a permit from the DNR. They are free and all you do is fill it out and attach it to a tree near your campsite.

radavis August 13, 2012 at 8:23 am

Great info. Thanks Brent!

Brent Rudolph August 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I just happened to catch the Q&A relative to camping along some of the southern Michigan segments. An alphabetical listing of all State Game Areas in the state can be found on the Michigan DNR page: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10363_10913-31657–,00.html. The (.pdf) area maps also provide general state land use rules. As indicated, camping on State Game Areas is not allowed “between May 15 and September 10, except in areas specifically designated for camping.” The individual area maps will show if any designated camping areas exist, but there are generally not many of them. I hope this is helpful!

Ben August 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Hi Tim,

I will be hiking from pictured rocks to Marquette starting this weekend. Was wondering about length(I think 60-70 miles) as well as any specific advice you might have regarding terrain. Re-supply stops on the way? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks, Ben

David Turner June 28, 2012 at 9:21 am

I recently did a day hike through the Lost Nation State Game Area as the NCT enters southern Michigan and had a blast! We started at the parking lot off of Bird Lake Road and hiked through to the parking pull-off on Pittsford Rd. I took some video while on the trail to give people an idea of what they could expect if they wanted to hike this section, check it out! http://bit.ly/LQXD9s

Tim Hass, Pres of Superior Shoreline Chapter June 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

In PIRO the blue triangles are mostly on trees. However, many hikers have complained that the trail is poorly marked in many places. We do not maintain the PIRO trail. Yes, the surface from GM to Deer Park is improved. With the wind blowing down trees we are regularly making sure the trail is cleared and re-blazed. There was one spot by Muskallonge that needed re-blazing about 2 weeks ago and that should be completed. There is also 1 other short section west of Lake Superior State Forest Campground that one of our new adopters is still working on, but it is open. There is a spotting service operating out of GM. Feel free to email me directly.

Mary Hunt June 10, 2012 at 9:05 pm

In Pictured Rocks National lakeshore,are the blue triangles mostly on the trees?

Second, if hikers choose to hike east of Grand Marais to Deer Park in order to avoid more “crowds” of hikers, is the trail surface improved?

Connie June 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm

To Joe: The Hiawatha trail section info is here, look at the bottom of that page for links to your questions. http://northcountrytrail.org/hss/

joe May 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I got 6 abled bodies to do trail maintenaice my self included in this that like to do some trail maintenaice and conservation work this summer on the hiawatha shore to shore section who i get in touch with to volunteer

joe May 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I got 6 abled bodies to do trail maintenaice my self included in this that like to do some trail maintenaice and conservation work this summer on the hiawatha shore to shore section who i get in touch with

Jesse May 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’m looking at hiking from M20 trail head to Hodenpyle dam but was wondering if any stores existed within a mile or so of the trail to keep the weight down and to re supply if needed.

radavis April 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

A large amount of the area in Northern Ohio and Southern Michigan does not allow camping along the trail. I have heard, however not confirmed there are periods of the year when camping is allowed in the state game areas.

There easiest way to find campgrounds is to use google maps a location along the trail and use the “search nearby” with a keyword campground. It usually works fairly well.

Ron

CND April 16, 2012 at 8:21 am

Dan

There are not many locations to camp along trail in the southern section of Michigan. I have heard the state game areas allow camping at certain times of the year, you would need to check their regulations.

If you use google maps and locate a place along the route, the search nearby for campground seems to work fairly well to show the private and state campgrounds available (most will need a call to verify they are available). The NCT maps are also useful for finding campgrounds.

Several of the hikers going through the section have used one of the motels that are along the trail in some of the small towns.

CND

Will MacKinnon April 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

That section also includes Muskulunge State Park and the Lake Superior State Forest. Different rules again in each. MDNR office in Newberry is your best source for state lands and the joing USFS Hiawatha and Pictured Rocks NPS office in Munising. Both accessible on line.

Kim March 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I am a new backpacker and would like to plan a 3 day, 2 night trip on the south Michigan portion or north Ohio portion of the trail. Any advice on where to start and where to camp would be appreciated. Thanks!

Dan March 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Thank you

radavis March 26, 2012 at 8:17 am

Dan – I have forward you comment on to our Chapter in Southern Michigan. Someone should get back to you shortly. In the meantime, you may want to check out this app: http://www.woodalls.com/articledetails.aspx?ArticleID=2773153 It shows camping sites all over. Thanks!

Dan March 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Greetings,
I am planning to hike the entire trail in Michigan over the course of the summer. I plan to start at the southern most point and work my way up. Can anyone help with the camping situation on the southern section?

Thanks,

Dan

admin March 6, 2012 at 9:34 am

Hi Jesse,
We estimate about 350 miles off-road and about 225 on-road in the LP of Michigan ~ 575 miles. Your largest chunks of road walks are in the south, once you get north of Croton, MI the road walks are divided in to much smaller chunks.
15-20+ miles a day is a reasonable amount to expect to hike in this terrain for a lot of people.

Jesse March 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

How many miles is just the lower peninsula section? From Ohio to Mackinaw Bridge.

Paul Haan February 21, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hike north on the trail from 96th Street, which can be accessed off of M-37 just north of the Lake/Newaygo County line. The boardwalk is about a mile in.

radavis February 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Camping works differently depending where you are along the trail. That particular segment of trail goes through the Hiawatha National Forest and/or the Pictured Rock National Park, each of which is managed by their respective Services and rules. Contacting the Pictured Rock National Park Service or Hiawatha National Forest Service directly is the best way to get permit information. Just to get you started though, here is a link to some sites referenced by the Forest Service that may help: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/hiawatha/recreation
I will also forward your question on to our Superior Shoreline Chapter members in that area, to see if they can give you some additional insight. Thanks!

Camden February 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

How does camping work along the NCT? I’d kind of like to do the hike along the Lake Superior shoreline from Deer Park to Munising in the U.P., but where does one camp and how do you get the permits?

admin January 30, 2012 at 9:57 am

This would be what I’d estimate for myself – 1150miles/20 miles per day = 57.5 days.
25 to 30 miles per day isn’t out of the question, but that’s dawn to dusk fast paced hikin’.

radavis January 30, 2012 at 9:56 am

Very good catch Ronn and quite right you are! We’ll make sure to update our reference material accordingly. Thank you.

admin January 30, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi John,
We divide the two peninsula’s to reduce the size of the data. We have a separate map for the UP.

radavis January 30, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hello John. I am thinking you must have been noticing only the lower Michigan maps. We DO have maps for the Upper Peninsula. Check out the ones that fall under our Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter, as well as the Superior Shoreline Chapter. We have Chapters that traverse the entire trail. All of whom have maps specific to their section. Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Thanks!

Ronn Farr January 28, 2012 at 9:56 am

Please note: Your website is amazing and I have enjoyed perusing through it. I can only assume that those responsible for its design strive for accuracy whenever possible. Therefore, I thought it prudent to pass along the fact that there is no such thing as the MackinaW Bridge ~ it simply doesn’t exist. The correct spelling is MackinaC – as in MackinaC Island, MackinaC County, etc. You are accurate with the city’s spelling with a W, but NEVER the bridge or island. Those of us who know the difference would appreciate correct and accurate presentation of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge! Thanking you in advance for correcting. Keep up the great work ~ many of us enjoy this site! :-)

John Weting January 21, 2012 at 9:55 am

Your map of Michigan leaves out the entire trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, from St. Ignace to Ironwood.

Jimmy November 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I would like to plan a thru hike of Michigan. Do you have any estimate of how long such a hike would take for someone in good hiking condition? Are there folks I could talk to at the NCT that could provide resources for planning such a hike? Thanks so much.

Luanne Kantor October 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

We tried for 3 hours on Sunday to find the boardwalk portion of the trail in Lake County, MI. Anyone have specific instructions on where one accesses the boardwalk?

Hike Michigan August 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

The new section that’s part of the Bear River Valley trail system is fantastic! We’re looking forward to visiting the NCT in Southern Michigan soon!

admin June 15, 2011 at 10:08 am
Cameron June 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm

How do i get a detailed map of the trail between Mackinaw City and Petosky?

George Streeter June 5, 2011 at 10:00 am

Just an FYI there was a very bad storm that went through Battle Creek in the last part of May of 2011. The Kimble Pines part of the trail is impassable. Probably 90% of the beautiful Jack Pines in that forest are down. It is heart breaking as that was a favorite part of the trail for us. I have not been across the street to the Ott Preserve part but I assume it is in similar shape. The Ott side does not have as many Jack Pines so those trees may have not been uprooted as easily. Looking at the devastation in Kimble Pines I doubt the trail will be back open this year.

admin June 3, 2011 at 8:12 am

We estimate 1,150 miles in Michigan.

Jana May 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

How many miles of the NCT are in Michigan?

thanks.

admin March 9, 2011 at 11:14 am
George Beck March 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi, Where do I find a Chapter that includes the section from Ironwood Michigan to Bergland Michigan – the section between the Heritage Chapter and Peter Wolf Chapter?
Thanks

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