North Country Trail

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Did you know that the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) passes through three National Parks, eight National Forests, and one National Grassland?

The North Country National Scenic Trail is being constructed across federal, state, county and private land.  Upon completion the trail will extend from Crown Point, New York to Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota.  It will be the longest, continuous hiking trail in the United States.

The 128.8-mile portion of the NCNST that goes through the Manistee portion of the National forests has 15 spur trails to other forest hiking and interpretive trails.

The NCNST is marked with blue rectangle-shaped blazes.  Connector trails are marked with white rectangle blazes on trees.  For information on the NCNST visit the National Park Service www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: This trail is not groomed.
Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise posted.
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Recreation Enhancement Act Fee – Day Use fee required at the following trailheads-

  • Marilla Trailhead
  • Udell Trailhead
  • Timber Creek Trailhead
  • Nichols Lake North
  • M-20 Trailhead

Recreation Enhancement Act Fee – Day Use –

  • Day: $5.00
  • Week: $15.00
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
  • Llamas
  • Bicycles – some segments
  • Pets on leash
  • Nonmotorized snow use: snowshoes, cross-country skiing (not groomed)
  • Nonmotorized mechanixzed equipment

Prohibited –

  • Motorized vehicles
  • Over-snow motorized vehicles
  • Pack and saddle animals
  • Trespassing on private land

Parking

  • Parking in violation of posted instructions is prohibited

Camping Dispersed Camping is allowed along the trail.  Visit the webpage on Dispersed Camping for more information. For specific information on camping in a developed area, visit the webpage for the campground you will be staying at.

Closest Towns: Brethren, Freesoil, Mesick, Kaleva, Wellston, Baldwin, White Cloud, Newaygo
Water: Udell, Timber Creek
Restroom: Marilla, Udell, Timber Creek, Nichols Lake North

This site is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail that when finished will stretch more than 4,000 miles from New York to North Dakota. Approximately 120 miles of this National Scenic Trail occurs on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. The twenty-mile trail section between the Marilla and High Bridge Trailheads is featured here. This trail section follows the general course of the scenic Manistee River, crossing Coates Highway about half way. Several trailheads along the route provide access for day trips. The trailheads have restroom facilities and fee stations. A vehicle parking pass is required.

Wildlife Viewing

Beautiful scenery and solitude await hikers who venture along this stretch of the North Country Trail. Bald eagles and osprey are often seen along the river in this area, as are deer, waterfowl, and numerous woodland songbirds. Backpack camping is permitted as long as the campsite is at least 200 feet from the trail and water courses. Camping is prohibited at the trailheads and parking areas. Blue blazes mark the trail route along with signposts at all road crossings. Listen closely in the gray light of dawn to see how many songbirds and other critters you can identify. No drinking water is available along this portion of the trail, so bring your own water.

This area is open to public hunting
. Contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for affected seasons and locations.

Directions

To Marilla Trailhead: From Brethren, drive east on Coates Highway about 7 miles. Turn left (north) on Marilla Road and continue another 7 miles. Turn right (east) onto Beers Road and proceed about 1.5 miles. Trailhead is on the right side of the road.

To High Bridge Trailhead: From the intersection of Coates Highway and High Bridge Road in Brethren, drive south on High Bridge Road about 2.8 miles to the High Bridge Road parking lot.

Ownership: U.S. Forest Service, Manistee Ranger Station, (231) 723-2211

Size: 20 linear miles

Closest Town: Marilla Trailhead off Beers Road: Mesick
High Bridge Trailhead off High Bridge Road: Brethren

Trail Description:

The North Country Trail is a National Scenic Trail which, when completed, will extend more than 4,000 miles from New York State to North Dakota. Approximately 35 miles of the trail lies in the St. Ignace District of the Hiawatha National Forest. Approximately 42 miles of the trail lie in the Sault Ste. Marie District of the Hiawatha national Forest.

The trail travels though the Hiawatha in three contiguous sections:

  • St Ignace
  • Sault Ste. Marie
  • Munising

For more information about the North Country Trail, visit the links below:

Map of North Country Trail

North Country Trail – Connector

North Country Trail – St. Ignace Segment

North Country Trail – Sault Ste. Marie Segment

North Country Trail – Munising Segment

NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL – Connector

Trail Distance:

5 kilometers.

Trail Difficulty:

Easy to Moderate

NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL St. Ignace Segment

St. Ignace Segment – The North Country Trail is a National Scenic Trail which, when completed, will extend from New York State to North Dakota. Approximately 35 miles of the trail lies in the St. Ignace District of the Hiawatha National Forest.

Passing through stands of northern white cedar, aspen, pine and northern hardwoods, the trail on the St. Ignace District is flat to rolling. Blue diamonds painted on trees mark the pathway.

TRAIL SUBSEGMENTS

A. Castle Rock Road FR-3104 to Brevort Lake Road (County Road H-57), 9.5 miles For the first few miles, glacial geology produced by shorelines of receding glacial melt waters is visible in the sand ridges. South of Round Lake the hiker passes near the Pt. Aux Chenes wetlands, a favored habitat for waterfowl and some raptors. A primitive campsite is located south of the trail near Pt. Aux Chenes River.

B. Brevort Lake Road (Co. Rd. H-57) to FR-3473 (Brevort Lake Campground Road), 6.5 miles This segment crosses the Brevort River and heads through sand dunes to the Brevort Lake Dam. Blueberry picking is often good in July and August. The trail then passes through hardwood and pine forests next to Brevort Lake. Watch for pileated woodpeckers in the old-growth maple, beech and yellow birch stands. Two primitive campsites are located near Brevort Lake. This trail segment ends near Brevort Lake Campground, a developed camping area with toilets and drinking water.

C. FR-3473 (Brevort Lake Campground Road) to M123, 8 miles Sandy soils and pine plantations surround most of this segment. Much of this area was logged in the 1800s and later planted with red and jack pine by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Silver Creek, located about .5 mile north of County Road 520 (Worth Road), is a trout stream. Traveling north, the hiker will cross an open corridor marking the location of a buried natural gas pipeline. Just north of this are natural openings where sandhill cranes may be sighted. Watch for bluebirds and kestrels near the nesting boxes in this area.

Paint spots on some of the trees in the pine plantation indicate trees which will be cut by loggers as part of a timber sale in order to thin the stand. Thinning is done to concentrate tree growth on fewer trees of better quality. The pine plantations are high fire hazard areas. Please do not to throw burning matches or cigarette butts on the ground, especially when fire danger is high.

D. M-123 to FR-3122 (Kenneth Road) , 5 miles Noted for it’s waterways, this segment is crossed by Taylor Creek and the North Branch of the Carp River. Both rivers are trout streams. Bedrock close to the surface causes slow drainage of precipitation. It might be advisable to wear rubber boots during wet periods.

E. FR- 3122 (Kenneth Road) to FR-3323, .5 miles The trail now winds it’s way through maple, beech and birch forests passing south of East Lake. A primitive camping site is located about 20 feet from the trail, one-quarter mile east of FR-3119 (East Lake Road). The ST. Ignace district’s portion of the North Country Trail ends near Maple Hill, one of the points of highest elevation on the district.

Trail Safety

  • Trail is for hikers, no horses or motorized vehicles.
  • Watch for changing weather conditions, personal fatigue which could cause hypothermia, tree blowdowns or other hazards to your safety.
  • Use the buddy system to make your hike enjoyable.
  • Biting and stinging insects can be unpleasant, pack insect repellent.
  • Please leave the trail as you would like to find it– free of litter and other evidence of human presence.
  • The St. Ignace segment of the trail is fully marked, but not all sections have been brought up to trail standards

NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL Sault Ste. Marie Segment

Sault Ste. Marie Segment – The North Country Hiking Trail is a National Scenic Trail which, when completed, will extend from New York State to North Dakota. Approximately 42 miles of the trail lie in the Sault Ste. Marie District of the Hiawatha national Forest.

This segment of the trail connects with the St. Ignace District on the south and leads along pine plantations, hardwoods, wetlands, and dunal ridges until it meets the shore of Lake Superior.

Camping is permitted. Blue markers are used to identify the North Country Trail.

TRAIL SUBSEGMENTS

A. FR-3323 to H-40 – 3 miles The first half mile is along the Niagara Rock Escarpment, then through 1/2 mile cedar swamp wetlands, and north 3 miles following slightly rolling sand hills forested with a mixture of aspen and and other hardwoods. Before Trout Brook Pond (approximately 1/2 mile south) the trail enters a red pine plantation and goes over Little Bear Creek. A campsite is on the west side of Trout Brook Pond.

B. H-40 to FR-3339 (Hayward School Road) 4 miles The trail follows 3/4 mile of red pine plantation along the west side of Trout Brook Pond, then through mixed hardwoods, and the last part of trail before you reach Forest Road 3339 follows the south side of Biscuit Creek.

C. FR-3339 to FR-3139 (Dick Road) – 5 miles The trail follows sand ridges along the north side of Biscuit Creek for 3/4 mile, then turns north through 2 miles of jack pine forest. Two campsites are located along this section of trail; the first is 1/2 mile west of FR-3339, overlooking a small pond; the second at the Pine River. A bridge crosses the Pine River, once you leave the 2nd campsite. The trail then turns west along the north side of the Pine River, following a sand ridge for approximately 1 1/2 miles to FR-3139..

D. FR-3139 to FR-3141 (Lone Pine Road) – 3 miles The trail follows the north side of the Pine River through jack/red pine forest and has several scenic overlooks. Camp along the Pine River.

E. FR-3141 to FR-3139 (Dick Road) – 4 miles On the north side of FR-3141 the trail follows the Pine River for 1/2 mile and then turns northeast and follows mature jack pine for 1 1/2 miles to the edge of Betchler Marsh. It then follows the marsh edge for approximately 2 miles until it turns east to FR-3139. In Betchler Marsh there is a good chance of seeing sandhill cranes, blue herons, loons, and unusual plants, such as pitcher plants and cranberries. It is possible to camp along the Marsh in several places.

F. FR-3139 to M-28 – 6 miles The trail goes northeast near Soldier Lake through a variety of habitats; mixed pine forest, and large grassy openings. Follow along the west side of Soldier Lake to M-28. Camping and drinking water are available at Soldier Lake Campground.

G. M-28 to FR-3159 (Salt Point Road) – 7 miles The trail winds north along the west side of Stump Lake, then turns east past Dishpan Lake, and northwest to FR-3159. The first 2 miles go through a mixture of red pine and jack pine, then halfway between M-28 and FR-3159, enters northern hardwood.

H. FR-3159 to FR-42 (Scenic Highway) – 6 miles The trail follows rolling hills of northern hardwood, with scattered sections of old growth aspen. You might like to camp at Naomikong Pond.

I. FH-42 to Lake Superior to FH-42 Parking Area -4 miles This section of the trail follows Tahquamenon Bay westward along Highway 42 for another 3 1/4 miles. From the western most parking area, the trail goes northwest through old growth hardwoods before it leaves the Sault Ste. Marie Ranger District and enters private land, north of Silver Creek.

NORTH COUNTRY TRAIL Munising Segment

Trail Distance:

33 Miles

Trail Difficulty:

Moderate to Difficult

Trail Description:

North Country Trail (Munising) -Approximately 15.5 miles of the trail lie in the Munising Ranger District of the Hiawatha National Forest. The Munising segment lies on foot path, old road and gravel road and meanders through dense hardwood forests. Summary of Trail Subsegment descriptions from the Wes Boyd guide (see NCTA site for more):

  1. Follow FR2276 Road 3 miles to intersection with Rock River Road (H-01).
  2. Turn South on Rock River Road (H-01). The route follows Rock River Rd. south for about 0.6 miles, passing the junction with USFS 2278, until reaching the trailhead for the trail leading east (left) in the Hiawatha National Forest.
  3. You’re now at the Hiawatha National Forest Trailhead. Follow FR2278 for 2.3 miles between Rock River Road and M-28. CAMPING is permitted anywhere in the National Forest at least 50 feet off the trail. CR H-01 is also known as Rock River Rd. FR2278 is .4 miles north of this point, and will be to the north when taking crossing forest roads between here and the Ponds campsite. Trail follows grassy lane and old logging road. Next water is about 5 miles away. This segment 2.3 miles.
  4. Cross FR 2483. FR2483 is also known as Slap Neck Rd. Trail continues east, then northeast, then east, making gradual to moderate climbs and descents through gently rolling hills before reaching paved Co. Rd. H-03. Segment about 2 miles.
  5. Cross County Road H-03. Trail descends a ridge, and joins FR2276 to cross the wide, but shallow Au Train River. Trail continues along paved (in this area) FR2276. Segment about 0.6 miles.
  6. Cross FR 2595. FR2595 goes north to AuTrain Campground, about 1.1 mile north. Fee, water, pit toilets, beach. About .1 mi east of this road, the trail turns gently into the woods to the south, and stays close to the (now gravel) FR2276 for a ways before angling more to the southeast. The trail crosses a ravine and tops a ridge before descending to the next waypoint, dirt FR2482. Segment about 0.8 miles.
  7. Cross FR 2482. Just past this road, the trail crosses Buck Bay Creek on a log bridge. This stream supports a good population of wild brook trout as well as spring steelhead. Shortly past this creek, a side trail leads south to a hike-in campsite. The trail continues east, crosses an old logging road, makes a fairly steep climb, and reaches a side trail to a second campsite, this time to the northeast. About a quarter mile further on, yet another side trail leads northeast to a third campsite. These three campsites feature fire rings and minimal improvements. The trail then descends to the Bay de Noc-Grand Island Trail Junction. This segment about 0.8 miles.
  8. Bay de Noc/Grand Island Trail Junction. The Bay de Noc – Grand Island Trail runs from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior. Among other things, is used for the U.P. 200, the Upper Peninsula’s best-known dogsled race. Just past the trail junction, the trail crosses tiny Buddy Creek, then crosses two ridges and valleys, follows a dry stream bed for a ways, crosses some deep ravines, and emerges at the site of the old Au Train C.C.C. Camp. Workers were here from 1935 to 1941, building roads, fighting fires, and planting trees. No structures are still standing, but the foundations are still present. The trail follows a one-lane gravel road a short distance to FR2274. This segment about 2.2 miles.
  9. Cross FR 2274. The trail climbs up from FR2274, then is more or less level before reaching an old logging railroad grade for a ways, then an unused logging road, then makes a moderately steep climb using four switchbacks, follows the ridge for a ways, then descends again, makes more climbs and descents, then, near the end of the section, reaches the primitive Ponds campsite. Just past the ponds, the trail emerges onto FR2276. This segment about 2.3 miles.
  10. Cross FR 2276. FR2276 has run more or less parallel to the trail to the north, at varying distances, all the way from Rock River Road. From here to M94, the road will be to the south. The trail crosses FR2276 and continues into the forest on the other side, more or less level for a ways, then making gradual climbs and descents until reaching M-94. This segment about 1.3 miles.
  11. You’ll arrive at Valley Spur Trailhead. Valley Spur Trailhead is a large parking area used in the winter by cross-country skiers. The trail makes a long, gradual descent on an old logging railroad grade, crosses Valley Spur creek on a plank bridge, then ascends, still on the grade. After a ways, the trail jogs onto an old logging road for a short distance, leaves the road, crosses a valley, and shortly descends to cross the Soo Line railroad. The trail continues moderate climbs and descents, then makes a moderate descent to M-94. This segment about 2.6 miles.
  12. Join M94 at Hiawatha NF Boundary. End of certified segment. The trail continues east along M-94 as a marked connector, using a sign similar to the NCNST trail marker, but with a hiker symbol, rather than the eight-pointed star. A separate treadway was once established along the south side of the road, but has reportedly been allowed to deteriorate, so this section may be a roadwalk. This segment about 2.1 miles.
  13. From here, turn north on M-28 and walk about 1.2 miles into Munising, where you’ll find the USFS/NPS Visitor Center.

If you have information about this trail please fill out the Add/Edit Trail form.

References and More Info

 

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