Guide to Huron-Manistee National Forests

The Michigan outdoors features some beautiful natural wonders and a plethora of places to enjoy them. One such area is the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Originally two separate forests, the federal government combined the Huron National Forest and Manistee National Forest in 1945. While the two forests share a name, they are in two separate sections spread across the northern portion of Michigan's lower peninsula.

The Huron National Forest portion sits near the shores of Lake Huron while the Manistee National Forest portion resides near Lake Michigan, closer to the Mountain Valley Lodge. There is no shortage of things to do in the Huron-Manistee National Forests including hiking trails, fishing, biking and other water activities. Sites such as the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, Pere Marquette River, and Manistee River also offer some great locales for outdoor recreation.

Best Hiking Trails

Huron-Manistee National Forest is home to myriad hiking trails. They range in length and difficulty, but all offer ample opportunity to enjoy the Michigan outdoors. The forest features some of the best hiking trails in Michigan in both backpacking and day hiking formats.

Some popular ones include the moderate Manistee River Trail (10.5 miles) and North County Trail (128 miles but features smaller sections). Some trails require a recreation pass or permit.

Best Biking Trails

Mountain Bikers will love visiting the Huron-Manistee National Forest because it boasts some extensive biking trails, all ranging in difficulty from moderate to difficult. Much of the forest features a good mix of a sandy base and topography to provide for some good Michigan mountain biking.

The 37-mile Big M trail allows for both biking and hiking, while the Hungerford Lake Trail (10.6 miles) offers an easier ride through the various forest landscapes. Note that some trails require a recreation pass or permit.

Best Fishing Spots

Looking for a way to take it easy while visiting Huron-Manistee National Forests? Consider spending some time on the myriad bodies of water to fish. The Manistee River offers a great chance to kick back and enjoy the Michigan outdoors while fishing.

There are also many areas in the Huron National Forest, such as the Au Sable River. The Manistee National Forest portion boasts the Pere Marquette River. There is no shortage of lakes to explore in the area, such as Bass Lake, among others. The forest does follow all state licensing regulations when it comes to fishing.

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area lies along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It features a wide range of activities to enjoy, including hiking, beach combing, hunting, picnicking, nature study and wildlife viewing.

The area is home to 10 miles of hiking trails as well as stretches of sandy beaches. There are also inland areas of forest and an abundance of wildlife to see. Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area also has facilities for winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Additional Recreational Activities

Huron-Manistee National Forests allows visitors to enjoy a bevy of outdoor recreation. Scenic Drives, water activities, winter sports, picnicking, and horse riding are just some of the many activities that will get you in the Michigan outdoors. Regardless of your preferences, Huron-Manistee National Forests has some fun things to do.