Chapter Trail Section
The Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore section of the North Country Trail begins at the south end of the Mackinac Bridge and encompasses Straits State Park, St. Ignace (our Trail Town), the Hiawatha National Forest, and north to Whitefish Bay. It passes through Tahquamenon Falls State Park before it turns north again to Lake Superior and the mouth of the Two Hearted River. This section of the NCT is uniquely composed almost entirely of true foot trail through remote forests, free of commercial establishments. You must hike over 80 miles from St. Ignace before you reach the first restaurant (Silver Creek Grill and Pub) near Whitefish Bay. The next businesses are 20 and 25 miles up the Trail: a summer camp/store at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls and Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub at the Upper Tahquamenon Falls. This Upper Peninsula section of trail features a low population density, few paved road crossings, and several rustic campgrounds. Over 120 miles of varied topography can be experienced including lakes, streams, ridges, bogs, an outcropping of the Niagara Escarpment, several fixed sand dunes, and more as you cross the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Careful logistical planning is required for longer hikes. There are many access points for day hikes. M-123 is your main access highway.
Trail Town: St. Ignace
The Trail Town of St. Ignace is your home port for exploring the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Your North Country Trail adventure begins at the St. Ignace Welcome Center as soon you come north over the majestic Mackinac “Mighty Mac” Bridge.
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Use the Report Trail Condition form to alert NCTA and the Chapter to poor trail conditions. Visit the Trail Alerts page while planning your adventure.
Tahqua Trail Hike: 5+ miles, easy. “I particularly enjoy the Tahqua Trail area west of the Snug Harbor subdivision. The Tahquamenon River sparkles in the summer sun, in fall the maples dapple the opposite river bank, and winter often finds ice on the river with patches of open water. It is always a joy to ‘discover’ the old steel boat. It provides for wonderful goofy photos to remember your NCT adventure.” (Submitted by Kay Kujawa.) There is a trailhead and parking lot about 5 miles off M-123 on Tahqua Trail Road. Tahqua Trail Road is the first road (dirt) to the west, north of the mouth of the Tahquamenon River near Paradise. If hiking, from the parking lot, hike east to follow the NCT along the banks of the Tahquamenon River. The trail loops back to Tahqua Trail Road several times in 5 miles as you hike toward the river mouth and Whitefish Bay.
Niagara Escarpment to Trout Brook Pond: 5 to 6 miles, easy to moderate. “The Niagara Escarpment is an interesting geologic site. A short walk farther up the Trail to the east brings the hiker to a glacial debris field. Turn around and enjoy the escarpment once more before heading toward H40. You will cross East Lake Road twice. Once back on the east side of East Lake Road you will discover an interesting beaver dam on a short side trail. The beaver “stacked” large sticks of similar sizes all along the downstream side of the dam. Farther in, the Trail crosses the Little Bear River on a forest road and then meanders along the river and continues on the H40. Soon you are walking the banks of the Trout Brook Pond. There is a good campsite as you near the dam.” (Submitted by Stan Kujawa.) H40 runs between Rudyard and Trout Lake. There is a trailhead off of H40 at Trout Brook Pond with a spur trail to the NCT across the dam. The Niagara Escarpment is just south of FS-3323 where there is also a parking area. FS-3323 is found off East Lake Road, south of H40 and north of the East Lake community. If hiking, head south from the spur trail after crossing the dam at Trout Brook Pond or hike from the escarpment north, as described above.
Lone Pine Road north to Dick Road: 5 miles, easy to moderate. “I really enjoyed seeing so many different types of habitat within a short day hike. From mature forests to open clearings and from marsh to pines, this section has a little bit of everything. The scenic view overlooking Betchler Lakes is a must-see as well. My absolute favorite part of my hikes through that section have been the seclusion. While I’ve only hiked it a couple of times thus far, I’ve never seen another person on the trail. Of course, this isn’t uncommon on many parts of the NCT in the eastern Upper Peninsula. My Labrador retriever, Fletcher, enjoys this section almost as much as I do. God bless and happy hiking.” (Submitted by Jameson Olson and his four-legged hiking buddy, Fletcher.) Dick Road (FS-3139) runs between M-28 west of Soldier Lake Campground and east of Strongs, south to H40 east of Trout Lake and west of Rudyard. Lone Pine Road (FS-3141) runs between Dick Road and M-123 north of Trout Lake. Park on Dick Road on the north end of this hike where the NCT crosses or park where the NCT crosses Lone Pine Road west of Dick Road near the Pine River. If hiking, head north from Lone Pine following the NCT to Dick Road or from north to south.
C-500 to Tahquamenon Falls: 7 miles, moderate. A great wilderness hike that provides a true northern experience. Hike hemlock ridges, northern bogs and marshes, pass a huge beaver dam and view the Upper Tahquamenon Falls before getting sustenance and refreshments at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, located just off the NCT at the Upper Falls. Drive on M-123 west past the entrance to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls to C-500 and drive north to the first crossing of the Little Two Hearted River. Parking along the roadside near the bridge. If hiking, follow the NCT from C-500 into Tahquamenon Falls State Park until reaching the Upper Tahquamenon Falls. Enjoy all the views!
Brevort Lake Road to Brevort Lake Dam: 4 miles one-way / 8 miles out-and-back, moderate. A perfect way to get a taste of the fixed dunes and varied forests located north of Lake Michigan, this hike is a pleasant way to spend a morning or an afternoon. Wonderful views of the Brevort River are found all along this route. Take Brevort Lake Road north from US-2 (10 miles west of St. Ignace) to Dam Road, turn left and follow Dam Road to the end and park. There is also parking on the south end of this hike on the east side of Brevort Lake Road on a short dead-end Forest Service road where the NCT crosses Brevort Lake Road. If hiking, follow the NCT north from Brevort Lake Road to the dam, then turn south to the Dam Road parking lot just before crossing the dam.
Salt Point Road to M-28: 6 miles, easy to moderate. An absolutely beautiful hike through an occasional tunnel of trees. The damp, earthy smells are wonderful and lift your physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing! The forest types change often as you stroll through the immature and mature growth. Flowering plants decorate the forest floor throughout late spring, summer and early fall. Small meadows offer a change of scenery and plant life. There are even a couple of pothole lakes to view along the way. The Trail crosses M-28 between Raco and Strongs near the Soldier Lake USFS Campground. Salt Point Road runs north out of Strongs and the Trail can be accessed as it crosses Salt Point Road as well. If you are parking on the south end, park off the highway shoulder. If hiking north-to-south or south-to-north, both directions hike well. Follow the blue blazes!
Mackinac Bridge to M-28: 68.8 miles, easy to moderate. “The Trail took me through a variety of forests, often canopied with ground cover of ferns and mosses. Then there were the wetlands where I welcomed the boardwalks that I presume were built by volunteers. The trail was easy to follow with the help of the blue blazes. I kept thinking of Theodore Roosevelt, the President who authorized the creation of the Hiawatha National Forest, and all the forest managers and conservationists and activists over the years who have worked to save a place like this for people like me. There is much that I could say about my five days of backpacking alone on the NCT. Two phrases come to mind: The first is from Psalm 42 and the words “deep calls to deep.” The second is from an essay by Ali Schultz in which she writes of a sense of isolation from an expansive sense of connection to the quiet, profound, and intimate magic of the world around us. I experienced a profound sense of connection and immersion into this magic.” (Submitted by Terry Cathcart.) Cross the Mackinac Bridge northbound and turn right to the Michigan Welcome Center. The Trail starts on the back corner of the parking lot. If hiking, follow the blue blazes to M-28. Enjoy!
Chapter Maps and Guidance
View our section of the Trail on the interactive online map
Muskallonge Lake State Park to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, brochure map
Mackinac Bridge to East Lake Road map (Sections A-E)
East Lake Road to Whitefish Bay (Sections F-K)
Whitefish Bay to the Two Hearted River (Sections K-R)
Gros Cap trail map
Additional Local Resources
Brevort Lake USFS Campground
Camping along the Trail Facebook article
Culhane Lake Campground
Hiawatha National Forest
Hiawatha National Forest St. Ignace / Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District
Little Brevort Lake Campground, North
Mackinac Bridge Authority
Mouth of the Two Hearted River Campground
NCTA/HSS Business Members
Pine River Campground
Soldier Lake Campground
Straits State Park
Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Trailspotters of Michigan