Fife Lake Loop Trail
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Michigan’s newest backpacking adventure is the result of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club discovering a more scenic route for their segment of North Country Trail (NCT), America’s longest trail spanning 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York. The original NCT swung north from the Manistee River west of US-131 but in 2010 club members began exploring, the east side of the highway. What they discovered were scenic vistas on river bluffs, crystal clear lakes, towering pines and a much more interesting terrain.
The reroute required a year of planning with actual construction of the 12.8-mile trail beginning in 2012. Right from the start it was decided to maintain the original NCT and form a 21-mile loop like the popular Manistee River Trail to the south. On National Trails Day in 2014 the new path was dedicated as the North Country Trail and the entire loop as the Fife Lake Loop Trail.
The NCT now heads east from its junction with the original trail, skirts the scenic Manistee River for almost 4 miles, heads north along Fife Lake Creek, winds through the picturesque Headquarters Lake region to Spring Lake State Forest Campground.
The entire loop makes for an overnight outing and a perfect weekend backpack. Many arrive Friday at Old US-131 Campground and enjoy the most scenic portion – the 10.6-mile walk to Spring Lake Campground – the next day. Sunday is a 9.5-mile trek to return to the Old US-131 trailhead where they can depart for home or pitch their tent for the night on the banks of the Manistee River in the campground’s walk-in campsites.
|Difficulty - Moderate|