Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Trail type
18.70 mi (30.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Jordan River Pathway is a scenic 18.7-mile trail encompassing all that is pure Michigan. The trailhead is easily located off of Deadman's Road, a short distance from the main highway. Arriving early ensures plenty of trailhead parking space for the overnight backpacking trip. The lot can become full in the afternoons, especially during peak fall color. The trailhead provides a pit toilet, but no running water. Overnight parking requires a Michigan State Recreation Pass, which is $11 for Michigan Residents. The trail is well marked and well used, making it easy to follow.  The loop trail can be followed in either direction; however, following the trail counterclockwise or in numerical order seems to be more popular.  At the halfway point, the Pinney Bridge State Forest Campground offers backpacker a place to spend the night in 14 well spaced, walk-in-only sites.  The fee is $13 per site. The campground has well water and pit toilets.

The loop has something for everyone, including meandering streams, old-growth forests, wildlife, and scenic overlooks. Visit during the fall for a color overload. The 18-mile trail does include some short climbs to boost the heart rate, and the route will enter and exit the valley several times. However, the trail is generally very well maintained and the miles go by quickly. Avoid visiting in the spring and early summer as the valley floor stays quite wet well into the warmer months, leading to swarms of mosquitoes. Also, the trail can be muddy; wood planks have been placed over the worst areas, and bridges have been built over all water crossings. If time allows, visit the National Fish Hatchery located within the park property.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round





Fall color. Scenic river. Logistically easy.


Single campground can be full.


Backcountry camping
Bird watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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