Manistee River Trail/North Country Trail Loop

Why it’s great for seasoned backpackers & overnight camping…

This Trail is perfect because it is an ideal overnight or 2 night trip (for the novice backpacker) and you only need one car to be staged. You will experience scenic hikes through the rolling hardwoods of the National forest and along the high bluffs overlooking the Big Manistee River and also visit a hydroelectric dam and cross the longest pedestrian foot bridge in the lower peninsula.

Why it’s great for backcountry XC skiing…

Sections of the MRT (typically from Seaton Creek Campground to Slagle Creek) are great for XC skiing.  The terrain is more forgiving and it provides beautiful overlooks of the river below with the Udell hills in the background.  Is starting from Red Bridge, we would classify that section of trail on XC skis for experts only, as tight terrain and steep grades will make it a challenge even for those who regularly break winter trails.

Trail Description

At 11+ miles along the Manistee River Trail and North Country Trail segment, this is one of the most famous loop trails in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. We recommend you begin your adventure at Red Bridge along the southern most point on the Manistee River Trail and tackle the North Country Trail during your first day as this is one of the more challenging segments. (please note this trail is shared with bikers and use caution) There are many scenic overlooks along the NCT segments with the Udell Hills in the distance. Find a complete guide to a multi-day hiking trip here:

The Manistee River Trail segment begins at the “Little Mac” foot bridge that connects the Manistee River Trail to the North Country Trail. The east side of the Manistee River has high banks )125+ feet and is a truly beautiful hike. Seaton Creek Campground to the north is available for water fill-ups and camping if you do not prefer truly rustic camping your first night. Highlights along the MRT is a waterfall, many creeks, and of course, scenic overlooks.

Difficulty: Advanced

Trail Amenities/Quick Look:

  • Natural/Hard Pack Surface
  • Non-Motorized Only – Hiking and Biking (NCT ONLY)
  • Information Stations
  • Pedestrian Foot Bridge
  • Trailhead markers
  • Restrooms (at trailheads)
  • Potable Water (at trailheads)
  • Fee for parking at trailheads required

Trailhead Locations

Red Bridge Access - MRT

Upper River Road - MRT+NCT

Slagle Creek Access - MRT

Get Directions Here

Note: Primitive/Seasonal Road, Use Caution

Seaton Creek Campground - MRT

Get Directions Here

Campground with basic amenities/potable water.

Hodenpyl Dam South Parking Area - MRT

Suspension Bridge Parking- MRT

Get Directions Here

Note: This is the best location to park and access the pedestrian foot bridge to connect to the Manistee River Trail.

Suspension Bridge - MRT

Get Directions Here

Note: If parking in the “suspension bridge parking area” proceed northeast along Upper River Rd. until reaching the trail and proceed south.  The suspension bridge is approximately .15 miles from Upper River Road.


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Unplug. Explore. Michigan's Great Outdoors.

The Michigan's Great Outdoors collaborative consists of five Northern Michigan counties all working together to promote tourism in the region.  With so many hiking, biking, winter sports, and ORV trails in the region that dynamically connect these counties, this site is devoted to educate the first-time visitor to the region looking to explore the great outdoors for the first time.  We welcome you to browse this site and explore all this region has to offer.