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Easy Epics: 17 Drive-up Campsites a Backpacker Will Love

Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 17 accessible hideaways.

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area
Green Road
Enjoy Caribbean-like beach camping on Michigan’s north shore.

A cerulean sea, a desolate beach pounded by big surf, and ranks of giant white dunes do not come to mind when someone utters the word “Michigan.” Which is why Nordhouse Dunes is among the top backcountry wonders of mid-America. From one of several pull-out campsites (stunted pine-bordered plots of white sand) along rough Green Road (FR 5356) on the wilderness’s eastern boundary, explore 20 miles of established, unmarked trails. The routes climb sand hills, skirt marshes and shallow lakes, and ford intermittent streams. Access the trails across Green Road, adjacent to the established campsites. Heading west toward Lake Michigan, the dunes transition from oldest to youngest. Pine and oak give way to grasses, and eventually bare, wind-whipped sand.

Get there From Manistee, take US 31 4.9 miles south to County Line Rd. Turn right, and go 1.2 miles to Quarterline Rd., which leads 3.2 miles to a right on West Forest Trail Rd. In four miles, turn left on Green Rd. Find sites on the left within two miles. UTM 16T 0547025E 4881508N
Map Huron-Manistee NF ($8, fs.fed.us)
Contact fs.usda.gov/hmnf; (800) 821-6263

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