Manistee River Trail

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The Manistee River Trail follows the east shore of the Manistee River for 8.8 miles through rolling hills.  The trail traverses past several wetlands and there are bridges crossing two creeks.  A waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers.  The Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail connector is also the site of the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan.  Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with vista views of the Manistee River and surrounding area.  There are several dispersed campsites along the trail.

A 23-mile loop trail is formed with the Manistee River Trail along the Manistee River.  The loop trail can be accessed from the Marilla and Upper Branch Trailheads for the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Red Bridge and Seaton Creek accesses for the Manistee River Trail.

A new suspension footbridge across the Manistee River below Hodenpyl Dam links the Manistee River Trail on the east side of the river with a section of the national North Country Trail on the west side. This creates a 20-mile loop hiking experience where numerous wildlife and bird species are common sites. The bridge itself also allows for great viewing of brown trout and other fish species in the river, plus songbirds that live along this section of the river. To reach the bridge, go west from Mesick on M-115 two miles to Hodenpyl Dam Road, then five miles west to the Hodenpyl Dam entrance sign, then one half mile to Upper River Road, and then one-quarter mile south to the bridge site. Just beyond the Upper River Road turnoff is Hodenpyl Dam with access to a popular brown trout fishing spot below the dam.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: This trail is not groomed.
Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless otherwise posted.
Fees Recreation Enhancement Act Fee – Day Use –

  • North Country Trail Marilla Trailhead

Concessionaire Fee – Day Use

  • Seation Creek Campground
Permit Info: Special Use Permit –

  • No special use permit is required for individuals or small groups (74 people or less).
  • Permits are required for commercial, event or large groups (75 people or more).
Usage: Light
Best Season: January 1 to December 31
Busiest Season: May to October
Restrictions: Allowed –

  • Hiking
  • Pets on leash
  • Nonmotorized snow use: snowshoes, cross-country skiing
  • Nonmotorized mechanized equipment except bicycles

Prohibited –

  • Motorized vehicles
  • Motorized over-snow vehicles
  • Bicycles
  • Horse and pack animals

Forest-wide Closures – Camping in dispersed areas:

  • Camping within two hundred (200) feet of any body of water, except at designated sites.
  • Camping in an area which is posted closed and/or no camping.
  • Camping within 450 feet of developed recreation areas.

Being publicly nude. Storing Watercraft

  • Storing, mooring, or leaving a boat or raft over 24 hours.


  • Parking in violation of posted instructions.
Closest Towns: Brethren, Mesick
Water: None
Operated By: Cadillac Manistee Ranger District – 412 Red Apple Rd., Manistee, MI 49660

Informational Brochure

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References and More Info

  • Trail Location
  • Trail Measurement
    23 Miles
  • Compass Latitude
  • Compass Longitude
  • Numeric Latitude
  • Numeric Longitude
  • Trail Images
  • Trail Maps
    • Trail GPS Files
      • Trail Weather

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