Hacking Site Camping Trip, February 2017-25, photo by Nathan Miller
Nathan took this photo in the Ottawa National Forest’s Trap Hills along the North Country Trail in winter.The Trail winds 4600 miles through 7 states in America’s northern heartland. It is our longest National Scenic Trail, stretching from New York to North Dakota. Michigan holds more of the North Country Trail than any other state:
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.
…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.
Read on for more at the North Country Trail website, including maps!
View Nathan’s photo bigger and see more in his North Country Trail Camping Trip, February 2017 slideshow.