North Country Trail Association

Western Michigan Chapter

Section

Lake/Newaygo county line west of M-37 to the Kent/Barry county line northeast of Middleville

The Western Michigan Chapter is the Association’s largest Chapter with over 300 members. We are a fun and diverse group of people of all ages who love the outdoors. The Chapter organizes member activities, such as volunteer workdays, hikes and events. We have a “working” volunteer Board, consisting of up to nine members who coordinate operations of the Chapter. There are two designated volunteer Trail Supervisors: one for Kent County and one for Newaygo County. They oversee trail development, volunteer workdays for the Trail, and about 30 dedicated section maintainers. In 2017, our Chapter received the Enduring Service Award for partnering with the U.S. Forest Service on trail related projects. Over the years, our members have received awards from the NCTA for trail building, group hikes, communications, and leadership. Our Chapter also partners with the Parkinson’s Association of West Michigan (PAWM) to promote our scenic trails as a health travel destination. Together, we offer hiking activities for those in the Parkinson’s community. The partnership works to encourage those with limitations to have a safe place to grow into their hiking experience. Enjoy your hikes through the Western Michigan Chapter section of the NCT! We hope you become a member and share your experience and skills with our Chapter and the NCTA.

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Chapter Trail Section

The Western Michigan Chapter is responsible for developing and maintaining the North Country National Scenic Trail in Kent and Newaygo counties. The range spans from the southern third of the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County (MI-861) to south of Grand Rapids in Kent County (MI-1002). Generally, completed Trail is on public lands including the Lowell and Rogue River State Game Areas and the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Kent County has 74 miles of Trail, 50% off-road. Newaygo County has 68 miles of Trail, 78% off-road, as of December 2020.

Our Chapter is home to the NCTA Headquarters in Lowell - an informative place to visit and purchase NCT gear. We have two designated Trail Towns, Lowell and White Cloud. We are also fortunate to have the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County, with 75% of the Trail in the Forest! This National Forest contains rare ecological features, such as dry sand prairie remnants, coastal marshlands, dunes, oak savannas, ferns, bogs and marshes. We boast several beautiful rivers, such as the Flat River in Lowell, the mighty Muskegon River in Newaygo, and many small trout streams. Newaygo County is especially known for its lakes, rivers and streams, while Kent County is host to farmlands and Grand Rapids, the largest metropolitan area in West Michigan. We are about an hour from beautiful Lake Michigan, with its scenic beaches and sand dunes.

Trail Town: Lowell

Lowell is a charming community in West Michigan where the Grand River meets the Flat River. The North Country Trail runs through downtown Lowell along the scenic Riverwalk and provides plenty of amenities to replenish hikers on their way down the Trail. Lowell is also home to the NCTA headquarters.

Trail Town: White Cloud

White Cloud is located about an hour’s drive north of Grand Rapids, and serves as your base for enjoying the NCT in Newaygo County and the lower Huron-Manistee Forest. White Cloud is about midpoint on the entire NCT, and was the location of the original headquarters for the NCTA.

Connect and Get Involved

Donate and join the Chapter
wmi@northcountrytrail.org
Facebook
Chapter Leadership contacts
Sign up for the Chapter newsletter
View archived Chapter newsletters

Resources

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.

Suggested Hikes

Lowell to Fallasburg Park / McPherson Road: 7 Miles. This is a lovely, scenic hike from the Boy Scout Cabin on N. Washington Street to Fallasburg Park / McPherson Road to the north. The NCT travels through the state game area and Fallasburg Park (complete with a covered bridge). You will enjoy beautiful views of the Flat River. This is a great hike anytime of the year but especially nice in the fall. The terrain is somewhat challenging along the river with some steep rolling terrain.

Croton Dam to 40th Street: 10.6 miles. This hike starts at the historic Croton Dam on the beautiful Muskegon River. There is parking available at the dam, as well as an NCTA kiosk. The Trail starts out along the river then heads north into the Manistee National Forest. You will walk through mature hardwoods and by scenic lakes and creeks on relatively flat and rolling trail. This section provides connectors to the Newaygo County Welcome Center, Coolbough Recreation Area, Twinwood Lake Forest Service Campground.

40th Street to M-20: 13 miles. There is parking at the 40th Street and M-20 trailheads. This is a lovely hike through the Manistee National Forest with slightly rolling hills, a few small stream crossings, wetlands and crossing the White River. This section offers connectors to White Cloud (an NCTA Trail Town), the White Cloud County Campground, and the Flowing Well Park.

Nichols Lake to 76th Street in Baldwin: 12.9 miles. This is a beautiful section for a fall hike as the area has mixed hardwoods, lakes and rolling hills. This is the northernmost section of the Western Michigan Chapter, as you will pass into Lake County (Spirit of the Woods Chapter). The Trail goes through the Nichols Lake area in northern Newaygo County and into Lake County. Parking is available at either end.

Sterling Marsh: 1.5 miles. The Trail contains 2,697 feet of boardwalk in 13 sections over the 1.5-mile section of trail. To access this section go south on Jenkins Road from 76th Street.

Chapter Maps and Guidance

View our section of the Trail on the interactive online map
Lowell area map

Volunteers

Trail maintenance forms
Chapter bylaws

Additional Local Resources

Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus
Cedar Springs Brewing Company
City of Cedar Springs
Explore Newaygo County
Fortune Bay Expeditions Team
Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Huron-Manistee National Forest
Kent County Parks
Lowell Chamber of Commerce
Lowell State Game Area (DNR)
Newaygo Brewing Company
River Country Chamber of Commerce (Newaygo County)
Rockford Chamber of Commerce
Rockford Brewing Company
37-North (retail, Newaygo)

Local Events.