Manistee National Forest

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash.com

Discover the Manistee National Forest

The Manistee National Forest encompasses over 480,000 acres, and together with the Huron National Forest, occupies almost a million acres of national land in Michigan’s lower peninsula. This is where thousands of people enjoy a myriad of activities–such as hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, hunting, snowmobiling, and ORV use.

Due to heavy logging in the late 1800s, these forests were almost completely cleared, so the Huron National Forest was established in 1909, followed in 1938 by the Manistee National Forest as a way to preserve this area for generations to come. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) helped reforest the land, planting pine trees in straight, even rows, which can still be seen today.

The Manistee National Forest is not one continuous piece of land, but is spread out over nine counties and is broken up by towns and private property. Three major rivers meander through the Forest–Pine, Pere Marquette, and Manistee. The Pine River is a bit rough and only recommended for experienced canoeists. The Manistee River is a bit more calm and perfect for families, and great for fishing! Check out the latest Manistee fishing reports, grab your pole and enjoy the scenery while you fish the Big Manistee or Little Manistee Rivers. We also provide fishing reports for the Pere Marquette River if you’re looking for trout, steelhead, and salmon.

The North Country Trail through the Manistee National Forest. | West Michigan Guides Stock Photo.

The popular North Country Trail stretches 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota and through five other states, with 100 miles of the Trail found within the Manistee National Forest.

It is the longest hiking path in the United States, and passes through ten National Forests. Every year, thousands choose a section of the Trail to discover–from snowshoeing in the winter to camping in the summer. 

Located in the Manistee portion of the forest is the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness. It sets just north of the Ludington State Park and along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Many of the dunes found here are up to 4,000 years old and 140 feet high with an expansive beach area. In a section just north of the dunes is the Lake Michigan Recreation Area. Here you can picnic, bike, hike, and swim–and there are 99 campsites with tables and fire rings. 

For more information, please contact the Ranger District Stations for the Manistee National Forest:

Manistee/Cadillac
412 Red Apple Rd, Manistee, MI 49660
(231) 723-2211

Baldwin/White Cloud
650 N. Michigan Ave., Baldwin, MI 49304
(231) 745-4631

Discover More of Manistee in West Michigan...

Take a tour on the Historic S.S. City of Milwaukee car ferry and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Acacia docked in Manistee, Michigan.

The Michigan Audubon Society Lake Bluff Center overlooks Lake Michigan near Manistee and features wildlife and a bird sanctuary.

The historical Vogue Theatre in Manistee, renovated as a modern-day movie theater, shows current movies, classic films, and family movies.

The North Pierhead Lighthouse, located in the Victorian Port City of Manistee, stands watch over Lake Michigan.

Winter in Manistee County includes great outdoor activities like skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, ice skating, and more.

The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts is a cultural center in West Michigan and plays an integral part in Manistee’s history.

The Manistee Riverwalk follows the Manistee River from Jones Street, under the US-31 bridge, behind downtown, and ends at First Street beach.