The Manistee River

Northwest Michigan, Huron-Manistee National Forest Backwaters Loop Trail is 23 miles of winding woods and scenic views.

August 2021

Manistee River and Backwaters Loop Trail

This Is an inland river just east of the western Michigan shore of Lake Michigan. We hiked the 23 mile loop over three and a half days. The fourth day was short at approximately 3.5 to 4 miles but was in the pouring rain. We barely stopped to take a breath as we made a steady and deliberate pace out of the woods that day. (Hiking in the rain with the proper gear is fine as long as you don’t stop!)

Day three was our longest day at close to nine miles in 90 degree weather (I do not recommend this hike in August) and swarms of mosquitoes who decisively love the taste of my arms and neck! That day included a steady incline for most of the nine miles. We were rewarded at the end of that day, though, with a beautiful campsite near the top of a river bluff and a gorgeous view of the sunset (None of my photos did it justice. Take my word for it; it was awesome).

This is a beautiful hike and the loop provides several primitive campsites along the way. We really did not run into many other hikers other than near the trail head. 

Trail Highlights

  • Great views of the lake throughout the trail.
  • Challenging terrain – moderate to rugged throughout with some steady steep climbs.
  • Desolate and serene wilderness environment.