North Country Trail/Fife Lake Loop

Why it’s great trail for seasoned backpackers:

This 21 mile loop is perfect for an overnight/2 day hiking trip. With no need for a shuttle vehicle. Beautiful scenery along the Big Manistee River and Fuller Lake/Headquarters Lake are the highlights along the way.

Best segment(s) for a 2 hours or less hike


Trail Description

On National Trails Day in 2014, the Fife Lake Loop became the newest section of the North Country Trail; America’s longest trail spanning 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York State. This backpacking adventure, discovered by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club, offers scenic vistas, river bluffs, crystal clear lakes, towering pines and interesting terrain.

This trail loop can be accessed 24 miles north of Cadillac, at the Old US 131 State Forest Campground, which offers overnight parking. Heading north from the campground, this scenic 10.6 mile stretch will lead you to Spring Lake State Forest Campground where you can enjoy an overnight stay, or continue on the loop 9.6 miles to return to your starting point. This new loop makes for a perfect weekend backpack for the seasoned hiker.

Difficulty: Moderate

Trail Amenities/Quick Look:

  • Natural/Hard Pack Surface
  • Non-Motorized Only – Fife Lake Loop Segment – Shared Bike/Hike on the NCT segments
  • Information Stations
  • Benches along trail locations
  • Trailhead markers
  • Restrooms and pump water at trailheads – US 131 Roadside Park, US 131 State Forest Campground and Spring Lake Campground
  • Fee for Parking

Trailhead Locations

Trailhead - Old US-131 State Forest Campground

Trailhead - US-131 Roadside Park

Trailhead - Northern Trailhead

Trailhead - Spring Lake State Forest Campground


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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.