Three Days in Manistee National Forest

After a quick stopover to visit our wonderful friend Sarah (and her amazing pool) in Grand Rapids, we headed north for a few days in the spacious Manistee National Forest. 

The Manistee National Forest lies on the western edge of lower Michigan. The forest consists of about 440,000 acres and has been in service since 1909. 

After checking in at the truly lovely family owned Leisure Time Campground, we headed towards the coast for a dune hike/trail run at Ludington State Park. Though the park is not technically part of the forest, it’s very close and afforded us an opportunity to explore the coast of Lake Michigan! We chose to run/hike along the Lighthouse Trail, which includes a view of the stunning Big Sable Point Lighthouse. The dune hiking was beautiful but challenging!

On our second day in Manistee, we wanted to do some more distance hiking and found the 15.4 mile Big M Trail on We were excited to see that there was a side trail to a fire tower, but then disappointed to discover that there was no access to climb the tower :(. The trail itself is designed for a variety of sports, namely mountain biking, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling – so it was pretty flat. Flat makes for easy hiking, but we found it to be a bit monotonous. Regardless, we enjoyed the opportunity to get a good long hike in…and so did Chocolate Chip!


On our final day in Manistee, we wanted to shake it up and get out on some of the beautiful water they have in the region. We found a local shuttler named John who advised us on where to kayak on the Pine River. We had read the river was recommended for more experienced paddlers and were excited at the challenge the river provided us! It was a swift, twisty river and had our full attention for the full 12.5 miles we paddled. Such a beautiful day!

Check out more about these adventures in our Youtube video here!

Next we head up the coast to explore more of Michigan! Stay tuned for more adventures!

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