Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
30.00 mi (48.28 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.

North Manitou Island lies in Lake Michigan about 12 miles northwest of the small, northern Michigan town of Leland. Having been settled in the early 20th century, the island still has several remnants of its old villages. While hiking, abandoned shacks, cars, and buildings dot the trails, and there are over 50 shipwrecks off the coast for eager kayakers and divers.

For $40, the Manitou Island Transit ferry will take you to the dock on the east side of the island and will bring you back to Leland on your date of departure. For a shorter loop, head south toward Carson Place and continue on for about 4 miles until reaching Crescent City. Crescent City is a beautiful place to camp, with several sites high up on bluffs for perfect sunset views and easy access down to the water. Swenson's barn is located right next to Crescent City, so exploring the ruins is easy, fun, and a bit eerie. Continue north toward Davenport and Stormer camps and pass abandoned cars and shacks until you reach Pole Bridge, a small footbridge crossing a large swamp with lots of wildlife. From there, head farther north to Maleski place or south to pass Lake Manitou, a beautiful inland lake with several campsites. From Lake Manitou, it is only about a 2-mile walk back to the trailhead through Frank Farm, an abandoned apple orchard. The same route can be extended by initially setting off toward Fredrickson Place at the southern tip of the island (another great place for campsites and sunsets).

North Manitou Island is a short, easy trip, not longer than two or three days, and never gaining more than 100 feet of elevation. Hiking on the island is very family friendly on-trail, and several off-trail routes that require bushwhacking can lead a more experienced backpacker to the Pot Holes on the north end of the island or Dimmick's Point on the southern coast. Head to the island in summer for great swimming, sunsets, and stars or in the fall for dazzling tree colors and smaller crowds.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Sometimes

Pros

Fantastic views. Clear and clean water for swimming and drinking. Easily accessible sites.

Cons

Large crowds in summer. Pricey ferry ride.

Trailhead Elevation

16.00 ft (4.88 m)

Net Elevation Gain

100.00 ft (30.48 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Bird watching
Wildlife
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers
Fishing

Location

Field Guide

Comments

04/23/2018
I've backpacked North Manitou several times. One of my favorites and I'm lucky enough that it's almost in my back yard! Here's my report from my very first trip there in 2002. https://solitudesports.com/backpacking-north-manitou-island/

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