Backpacking in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan

1:13 p.m. on June 3, 2010 (EDT)
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142 forum posts

Hey all! I will be heading up to the Traverse City area with family to do some camping at the state park. I would really love to get out and rough it for a couple nights, and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. I know that their is a NCT trailhead just south of Traverse City, so I might check that out. Just wondering if anyone else had any recommendations for nice day hikes or a 1-2 night trip a little more off the beaten path (literally, I suppose). Thanks!

Also, since I have already a thread started, I am wondering if anyone could give me some advice about packs. I need a new one, and I would like something that is good for between 1-2 and 4-5 night stays in the backcountry. What sizes should I look at? I am not an ultralighter, as I like to be prepared, but I am certainly not an "everything and the kitchen sink" backpacker. On a 6 night trip in the Tetons, my old pack weighed in at 45 pounds. Just wondering what I should look at in terms of L/square inches.

11:37 p.m. on June 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Hey man. I'm not familiar with the T.C. area, but for a couple hours of extra driving Craig Lake State Park is amazing. Prior to moving to Montana from Green Bay, I was a regular at Craig Lake. The N.C. trial runs through there, and there's an 8 mile loop around the lake, as well as spur trails to other lakes. Really rugged area, need a high clearance rig to get their. Supposedly it's the least visited state park in Michigan, which is no suprise givin its' location. There's moose, wolves, bears, etc..... Fantastic fishing as well, no motors allowed so it's a canoeing and kayaking paradise. There's a few short portages to adjacent lakes where you probably wouldn't see more than a handful of people, even on the busiest holiday weekend. Anyways, I traveled all over the UP and Northern WI, and that's hands down my favorite spot. There's a MI website about the park if you're interested. So if you've already been there, you're down with what I'm talking about, if not....enjoy.

As far as backpacks go, for the minor weight difference between a 3000 and 5000 bag, I would deifinitely go big and have the extra room. I have an Osprey Aether 5000 and love it. It has the room when I need it for long trips, and it has compression straps to draw it tigher when I don't.

Good luck.

11:01 a.m. on June 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow. Never heard of this place. Thanks for the tip. I will be camping with family, so long day excursions such as this will be a nice respite. Hopefully I will get a chance to check it out.

Thanks for the info on the packs. Osprey makes some nice looking packs, but I don't know much about them other than what I have read online (they certainly have the aesthetics down, and lots of reviews I have read claim that they are quality packs and functional). I'm heading to the outfitters this weekend, and I will probably be trying on some of the 70-80L packs (around 4,300 - 4,900 cubic inches).

3:59 p.m. on June 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Craig Lake is in the U.P. and quite a drive from Traverse City. About 30 miles south of T.C., near Mesick, you can get a nice overnight hike on the Manistee River Trail, along bluffs overlooking the river. It's a beautiful nine mile hike, an easy overnight trip with nice campsites along the way, or a more challenging day hike. If you want a longer hike, it connects with the NCT to make a 20 mile loop.

Here's a link to the Forest Service site:!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDfxMDT8MwRydLA1cj72BTJw8jAwjQL8h2VAQAzHJMsQ!!/?ss=110904&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=FSE_003714&navid=110160000000000&pnavid=110000000000000&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&recid=18710&actid=51&ttype=recarea&pname=Huron-Manistee National Forests - Manistee River Trail

The site mentions a waterfall along the trial, but don't get your hopes up. Otherwise, a very nice trail.

8:10 p.m. on June 8, 2010 (EDT)
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142 forum posts

Cool. I knew about the Manistee River Trail, but I thought the only way to do it was as a loop. From the sounds of it, this is exactly what I'm looking for. I will probably do it as a day hike (I have plenty of time to lounge around the campsite sore if need be). I will probably also do a trip to either North or South Manitou Island for some nice remote day hiking. Thanks for the suggestions, all! I can't wait to get out on some different trails, as I've pretty well worn out everything in my area.

12:27 p.m. on June 9, 2010 (EDT)
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Hey .ghost. There's another scenic, well marked segment of the North County Trail near the one already mentioned that you may want to also consider. South of Baxter (small town) there's a state campground the family could camp while you walk the trail segment from what we aways called the Old Iron Bridge to the trail crossing on the main road just North of the state campground. The Iron Bridge is on 19 Road North of 14 Mile Road and the campground is by the Baxter Bridge. Both bridges have a boat launch so they show up on maps. I believe it's about 11 miles. The trail is North of the Old Iron Bridge and I suggest getting dropped off at the trail and not trying to find it from the Bridge. A lot of hills and scenic views. This is a little closer to Traverse City. Try the North County Trail website for additional info.. Their headquarters is in Lowell, Michigan if you want maps.

One other beautiful trek is along the Jordan River in the Mackinaw State Forest. Park at area at the Deadman Hill Overlook and walk to the backpackers campground at Pinney Bridge (it was open last year). camping is limited in this area. The loop is about 18 miles. This is East and North of Traverse city. The North Country Trail is 1 part of the loop and The Jordan River Pathway makes up the other. You could park within a quarter mile of the campsite and divide this up into 2 great dayhikes. Info available on the DNR website. I really enjoyed this ... Try the Gaylord Operations Service Center 1732 West M32 Gaylord 989-732-3541 for info...

8:22 a.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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142 forum posts

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I will definitely be checking some of these out. Hopefully I'll get some good photos to post!

May 27, 2018
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