Manistee River Loop
Huron-Manistee National Forests
Following the Manistee River through the hardwood forests of western Michigan, this gentle route passes through the lonely (in winter) backcountry of the state’s lower peninsula. Birds chatter from leafless branches as bald eagles cruise the skies. An assortment of woodland creatures-from porcupines to black bears-thrive in the surrounding forest. The trail begins at the sedate waters of the Hodenpyl Dam Pond and follows the east bank of the Manistee south for more than 10 miles to the Red Bridge on the Coat Highway. Scurry across the bridge to a short connector trail leading to the North Country Trail, turn north on this National Scenic Trail, and return to Hodenpyl Dam Pond.
Guides: Winter Trails Michigan: The Best Cross-Country Ski & Snowshoe Trails, by William Semion ($14.95). USGS topo Manistee (888-ASK-USGS; backpacker.com/mapstore; $6.95).
Contact: Huron-Manistee National Forests, (800) 821-6263; www.fs.fed.us/r9/hmnf.