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.

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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.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

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?


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.


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.


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!


mdavis February 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

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


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?


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.


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?


mdavis February 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

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


Craig Mulhinch November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm

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,


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!


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