North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: White Cloud

White Cloud, Michigan is located about an hour’s drive north of Grand Rapids. White Cloud is delighted to be recognized as a Trail Town and serve as your base for enjoying the North Country Trail in Newaygo County and the lower Manistee Forest.

White Cloud is located about midpoint on the North Country Trail. The nearby Birch Grove Schoolhouse served as the original headquarters for the North Country Trail Association. As the city sign proclaims, “White Cloud where the North Begins and the Pure Waters Flow.” That image is very appropriate for those seeking a great West Michigan recreation destination. After crossing the Muskegon River in Newaygo, you will leave the orchards and farm fields behind and enter the forest covered hills of the Manistee National Forest. White Cloud is located at the intersection of Michigan Highways 37 and 20, and at the southern end of the National Forest. After reaching White Cloud, recreation seekers will have access to the spring-fed White River and thousands of pine, oak, and maple covered acres.

The North Country Trail can be accessed from the White Cloud Park and Campground by a connector trail. The campground is located on Echo Drive about two blocks west of downtown. It has many sites for camper trailers of all sizes and abundant tent sites for trail hikers. It has all the amenities including laundry facilities, bathhouse, playground equipment for kids and two excellent pavilions, one open and one enclosed for larger events. The larger pavilion has a full kitchen, small library and a great open fireplace for those cool weather events.The Campground Connector Trail is a 4.3-mile loop that can take local hikers from the campground through Forest Service lands where it connects with the North Country Trail and returns to the campground.

Long-distance thru-hikers can take the connector trail to the campgrounds for overnight camping or longer stays so they can use the amenities, or enjoy the easy walk to local restaurants, motel, or mail a letter or stock up at the grocery, hardware store or use medical facilities. Section hikers can spot their cars in the Campground Park and hike the beautiful North Country Trail north and south to other trailheads.

On the return section of the Trail, hikers will understand why “Where the Pure Waters Flow” is part of the White Cloud name. Along a section of the Campground Connector Trail hikers will encounter Alleyton, an old area logging town build because of the artesian wells and fast cold waters of the beautiful White River. Alleyton is long gone, but Flowing Wells Park and a few foundations, an interpretive kiosk, fountains and wells remain. The locals bring their water containers to fill with the pure water from these ever flowing artesian wells. In the Flowing Wells Park you will also notice a kayak launch and a wooden snowmobile bridge over the White River.

Paddle sports lovers can begin their kayak trip upstream on the White River at the launch in Raceway Park. This small pocket park is located about two blocks east of M-37 and below the White Cloud Pond dam. The White River is a small river that has a big personality, and includes some quick turns and feisty rapids. The rocky runs and low hanging limbs that are best taken by experienced paddlers in maneuverable kayaks. Kayaks are also a great way to access some of the river’s excellent brown trout habitat. Experienced fly fishermen have coaxed 20-inch+ wild brown trout from their woody condos on this stretch of the White River. The trip down past the campgrounds to the Flowing Wells Park takeout is usually 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on flow and sightseeing. The takeout is just past the snowmobile bridge and barking dog.

You always have a seasonal choice of activities in White Cloud, including hiking, camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and trail running. Once here the challenge will be choosing from a variety of available outdoor activities. White Cloud is also a 15-minute drive from the nearby town of Newaygo, which also offers more options for dining and supplies for hikers and recreation lovers.

The Western Michigan Chapter is responsible for the North Country Trail section nearest White Cloud.

 

Additional Resources

Header photo by Charles Chandler.