Manistee, Michigan is the gateway to the north. Situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the area boasts opportunities for hiking, camping, world-class fishing, and many other outdoor activities. If you enjoy the outdoors, Manistee is an ideal destination.
For hikers visiting Northern Michigan, the Manistee area is home to mile upon mile of trails. These are some of the hiking highlights of the Manistee area.
Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area
Located just south of Manistee, the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area is 3450 acres of protected woods, dunes, and lakeshore. There are about 20 miles of established foot trails within the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, though they are not officially marked. It is best to bring a compass when hiking in the area. There is also a map of the trail system available at Get Off the Couch.
Lake Bluff Audubon Society Bird Sanctuary
One of Manistee’s hidden gems, the Lake Bluff Audubon Society Bird Sanctuary is located just minutes outside of town on the shore of Lake Michigan. The 76-acre facility is a great, protected place to view dozens of species of birds and other wildlife. The network of trails is small but well-maintained, offering views of a variety of different ecosystems.
Ludington State Park
Ludington is a city located about 20 minutes south of Manistee along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Here you will find the massive, 5,300-acre Ludington State Park, with over 20 miles of pristine, well-marked trails. This includes the skyline trail, a boardwalk-like path that winds along the top of a tall ridge. One of the main attractions of the park is the Big Sauble Point lighthouse, which is only accessible via the trail network in an area of the park where motorized vehicles are not allowed. The trail system is also open for cross-country skiing during the winter months. A vehicle usage permit is required, which can be purchased at the entrance to the park.
Orchard Beach State Park
Manistee’s own state park, Orchard Beach State Park, is located near the Lake Bluff Audubon Society Bird Sanctuary. However at just over 200 acres and with only about 3 miles of hiking trails, it is not nearly as impressive as nearby Ludington State Park. Though scenic, the trails are not as well maintained as many others in the area. A vehicle usage permit is also required for entry.
North Country Trail
To the west of Manistee, near the village of Wellston, one can find the trailhead for the North country Trail. This mammoth hiking trail runs continuously from New York to North Dakota passing right through the Manistee area. The trail is under the care of the National Parks Service; visit their website for more information.
Get Off the Couch: Nordhouse Dunes – http://www.getoffthecouch.info/mason/nordunes.htm
Michigan Audubon Society: Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary – http://www.michiganaudubon.org/conservation/sanctuaries/index.html/title/lake-bluff-bird-sanctuary
Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Ludington State Park – http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=468&type=SPRK
Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Orchard Beach State Park – http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=480&type=SPRK
National Parks Service: North Country Trail – http://www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm