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  1. #1
    packeagle's Avatar
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    Need info on Manisteee River Trail/ NCT

    Hey, I know a few of you have hiked on the MRT/NCT, I'm looking for a 3 day hike that would cover 25 or so miles. I think that the MRT/NCT loop is like 23 miles. I am having trouble finding much info as it pertains to permits and regulations. Are there specific sites or is it open back country camping? Do I need to get a permit, parking pass, or any other registration? Any general information you have would be appreciated. Thanks folks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bmwrider's Avatar
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    Yes you need a permit, there is parking and they will show you how to find it at the dnr station.
    My advice to you is hike farther the first day to shorten the second days hike, using a hammock makes this easy because your not depending on a camp site, a lot of the sites are in poor spots, like the second nights sites have zero water sources so carry extra water for dinner and breakfast, and extra water for the last days hike, you will need it there is a long stretch without water and the water source is easy to miss, we passed it up on our hike but not to worry you will come to a bridge later if you miss it and can fill up there, just fill your water bottle and your bladder, I suggest 4L for that days hike, I would suggest using the backpacking michigan book by Jim Dufresne, follow his route and make the changes I suggested above to prevent a hard second day hiking.

  3. #3
    bloomgorge's Avatar
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    You do not need a permit to back country. The dnr ask that you do not park directly at red bridge if you're starting there rather west about mile down the road at the snowmobile staging. The mrt section which is on the east side of the river has plenty of water about every mile and a half. Sites 10-8 from the south working North doesn't have a lot of water and is on a bluff. From 8-1 going north there are plenty of places to hang at legal sites and you'll see many illegal. Most if doing the full loop park at red bridge and head north on the mrt and stay the first night at sites 5-3. The second night I would hang on the nct side at the first river. We had a group hang there last year.
    to understand that exact location pm jeepchcr as he had a GPS, I think stonehooligun has it as well. But to explain, when you get the nct after leaving the road portion you'll see marilla trail head sign after walking on a wide straight section, walk about a half mile further and it will open to power lines. To the left will be a little hill with clearing on the top, that's the site and it legal to camp. If you hit the little river which is 50 yds down the trail you'll know to turn around. Your last day will give you about an 8 mile hilly walk out and fill up before leaving as the little creek at about the midway isn't always following.

    Hope this helps. The only place I know you must pay for your car is Seaton creek trail head.

    Another good loop is Jordan river but its really a long overnight but there is a drive in campground down the road if you want 2 night. Jet is nice, out houses, hand pump, river for swimming
    Last edited by bloomgorge; 08-04-2011 at 07:06.
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  4. #4
    Still a Hooligan Stone's Avatar
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    Bloomgoorge, is talking about the Eddington Creek site south of the Marilla Trailhead. The entire NCT side (West side) is open to dispersed camping, but the only water is at Eddington Creek. Plenty of water on the MRT side (East Side). I have attached a pic showing the campsite area.
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  5. #5
    canoebie's Avatar
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    There are stretches of the NCT on the upper Manistee that are nice. Not sure of all the details as I have done only a short stretch of it on an overnight, but from the old US 131 campground to Baxter bridge and further is much less traffic and lots of water sources. This is part of the Pere Marquette state forest and a permit is required to camp on state land. They are free and can be acquired at any DNR field office. They are often on the outside of the door and can be had during off hours. I am paddling the Manistee next week for five days. Gonna go from M-66 or Smithville to Harvey Bridge. The NCT will be on river right most of the way.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member wildcrafter's Avatar
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    no permit needed its national forest land. you can camp anywhere that is 200 feet from the trail or the river or at the designated sites that are on the mrt side. the upper river trail head near red bridge is a no fee parking area. I suggest doing the mrt side first as theres lots of water on that side and its gorgeous how the sun hits the trees on the other side in the morning. There is only one watering spot on the nct side so its a 7 mile hike after that with lots of switchbacks back to the car. As bloom said the best spot to camp on the nct side is just before the creek just make a left off the trail when you come to the power lines its a nice spot with a great view. If your interested in more coming let me know when your planning to go I love the mrt/nct loop.
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