Manistee River Trail

I spent Friday night at the Seaton Creek Campground with a few of my friends (Jared and Bob) who were in the area fishing. The next morning, I departed early to drop my dog off at Meadow Pond Pet Resort. I would then head back to the river so that I could spend Saturday exploring a new trail.

I was hiking the 8.8 mile trail from the Red Bridge Trailhead to the Suspension Bridge near the Hodenpyl dam. If I don’t find my friends fishing on the river (which I didn’t), I’d have another 1.5 mile hike to camp at the Seaton Creek campground.

Just about ten steps into my journey I was presented with a beautiful view of the valley. In doing research everyone raved about this trail. Throughout the day you will run into many other hikers and see people floating down the river.

Stick Bug!

After about 3 miles on the trail I realize I left more than half my water in the car. I had my kettle so I could easily boil water from the river to drink but I ended up making the hike on 20 ounces of water. I would recommend taking at least 4 times that much or bring a water filter to collect water from the river.

To avoid this from happening in the future I planned on packing my bag at home and not getting into the practice of loading my bag once I arrive at the trailhead.

Along the way I found great maps of the trail indicating my location. I also found some of the best and most scenic campsites in the state. I look forward to coming back and making this a three day hike and spending some extended time along this trail. Overall the hills are not as steep or painful as the hills I experienced on the Jordan River Pathway earlier in the year.

Ninety percent of the trail was along the river but every once in a while the trail shot you into the woods.

I think it was at the crossing of Slaegle Creek that I found a really cool bridge (picture below). It’s always amazing me that something like this bridge was built so far away from any heavy equipment.

Cool bridge in the middle of nowhere.

If you like trout fishing, then this is the place for you. My friends reported catching over 40 trout during the day. Over the years, my friend Jared has taught me everything I know about camping and trout fishing.

Towards the end of my hike I ended up getting in a fight with a bunch of wasps when I misread the trail signs and ended up in the wrong neighborhood. I swear each sting felt like they injected me with poison ivy. The only good thing about this encounter is that I know I can be bit by 8-10 wasps with severe side effects.

This is the largest suspension bridge in the lower peninsula

I finally arrived at the suspension bridge that connects the MRT and the North Country trail. This is where I conned an older couple out of enough water to continue on to the Seaton Creek campground 1.5 miles away. If you cross this bridge it meets up with the North Country Trail and that can take you back to Red Bridge. That stretch is eleven miles long and I have read, a bit more challenging with only a couple of places with river access.

I had just planned on eating a backpacking meal for dinner but Jared and Bob prepared quite the buffet back at camp. I honestly had such great food while camping. We at rainbow trout, steak, corn on the cob, mac and cheese and potatoes that Bob’s wife had prepared for us.

We all had a long day and turned in early. I did let them try out my hammock and I think that I may have created a few more believers. The next day we fished for a bit by the dam I didn’t catch anything but I was mostly there for the conversation. Around 11 a.m. I parted ways with my friends and headed back to pick up my dog and head back to Metro Detroit.

This trail definitely lived up to its reputation as one of the best hikes in Michigan. You can do this hike in one or two days but I would recommend doing it in 3 days (two nights) to really enjoy the surrounding area and take in the wonderful views.


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