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Shark Enterprises
Joan H. Young
861 W. US 10
Scottville, MI 49454
jhyshark@gmail.com
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this page updated 4/8/11

Persons associated with collecting and/or posting this information can not be held legally liable for any errors. While every effort is made to present accurate data, errors may occur.



Stories containing:
Manistee National Forest

at Lake Michigan Recreation Area

Lake Michigan Recreation Area Trails
North Overlook Trail North Overlook Trail North Beach Trails North Beach Trails North Beach Trails South Overlook Trail South Overlook Trail South Beach Trails South Beach Trails Porter Creek Trail Porter Creek Trail Arrowhead Trail Arrowhead Trail Multi-Use Trail Multi-Use Trail More Info

Lake Michigan Recreation Area

There are 99 National Forest Campsites here, Lake Michigan beaches on both sides of Porter Creek, observation towers, and trails. Despite being deep in the forest this is a busy place in summer.

The only trail actually named at the Recreation Area is the Arrowhead Trail; I simply designated the others by their location. Several trails (in magenta on the map) have one terminus in the Recreation Area and the other in
Nordhouse Dunes and are described on that page.

Camping- 99 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings. Water available at spigots in each camp loop. There are 3 group campsites. Self-pay tubes $16/night in summer, $10/night in winter, extra fees for groups.

North Overlook Trail

This is a boardwalk and stairs which climb to the top of the highest nearby dune. From the parking lot walk into the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the boardwalk begins at 2 o'clock. Then just keep on climbing till you get to the top! You'll be level with the tops of the trees. You can see Big Sable Point to the south, and the lighthouse (it looks as if it's back toward the dune from this angle, not at the water's edge). There are two places to rest with benches on the way up, and two octagonal decks with benches at the top.
Access- Park in the lot south of F.R. 5629 just before the end of the road.
Restrictions- no bikes, dogs must be leashed
Distance and time- 0.1 mile from beginning of boardwalk; 5 minutes (or more going up! each way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- none
Condition of Marking- none needed- stay on the stairs
Treadway- wooden stairs- safe and stable footing
Grades- almost entirely stairs- (165 steps ascend 110 vertical feet)
Ecosystem- Dune forest with oak and maple and a scattering of white pine
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 2, 2011
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Comment

North Beach Trails

Trail to swimming beach: From the parking lot walk into the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the boardwalk begins at 1 o'clock. There is an interpretive sign about the fragile nature of dune ecosystems and then descend a few steps to loose sand. There is one bench here. Continue straight over the dune and steeply down its face to the shore.

Trail to the dog exercise area: Begin as above but turn to the right after you leave the boardwalk- you can see the sign at the bottom of a dip.

Trail to the dune above Porter Creek: From the parking lot walk into the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the trail begins at 11 o'clock. It is marked with a carsonite post as Foot Travel Only. Follow it to the edge of the Creek gorge, and then on over the dune and down to the beach.
Access- Park in the lot south of F.R. 5629 just before the end of the road.
Restrictions- No bikes on beach. Dogs must be leashed and not in swimming area at all (separate area designated). No camping or campfires on beach.
Distance and time- 500 feet from the loop of the drive to the beach; 2 minutes (each way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- signs at beginning of boardwalk
Condition of Marking- well-marked
Treadway- Boardwalk with 15 steps then loose beach sand- unstable footing, but hey, it's a beach.
Grades- Moderately steep to steep to get to the beach, but if you just want to sit and look at the lake you only have the 15 steps to do.
Ecosystem- Lake Michigan shoreline and primary dune
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 2, 2011
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Comment

South Overlook Trail

This is a trail ending in stairs which climb to the top of the highest nearby dune. Park in the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the boardwalk begins at 12 o'clock. Follow the boardwalk till you reach a carsonite post saying "Hiker Trail" on a trail to the left. Take this, and climb moderately to the foot of the stairs. There are 110 of them to the top of the hill with nice views.
Access- Park in the loop at the end of F.R. 5972 just before the end of the road.
Restrictions- no bikes, dogs must be leashed
Distance and time- 0.15 mile from beginning of boardwalk; 5 minutes (or more going up! each way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- sign at the end of the boardwalk near the beach
Condition of Marking- adequate- stay on bluff edge and then the stairs
Treadway- gravel reinforced soil leading to wooden stairs- safe and stable footing
Grades- almost entirely stairs- (122 steps, total ascent of 82 vertical feet)
Ecosystem- Dune forest with oak and maple and a scattering of white pine
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 2012
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South Beach Trails

Trail to swimming beach: Park in the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the boardwalk begins at 12 o'clock. Follow the boardwalk past the latrine and several interpretive signs about Lake Michigan and the fragile nature of the dune ecosystem. There is also a site map here. Descend 20 steps to loose sand. There is an informational kiosk. Continue straight over the dune and steeply down its face to the shore.

Trail to the dog exercise area and observation decks: Begin as above but turn to the left at the interpretive signs. The boardwalk continues down steps to a double level deck with additional interpretive signs about the history of the Porter Creek area. You can continue on to the beach.
Access- Park in the loop at the end of F.R. 5972 just before the end of the road.
Restrictions- No bikes on beach. Dogs must be leashed and not in swimming area at all (separate area designated). No camping or campfires on beach.
Distance and time- 500 feet from the loop of the drive to the beach; 2 minutes (each way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- signs at beginning of boardwalk
Condition of Marking- well-marked
Treadway- Boardwalk with 20 steps then loose beach sand- unstable footing, but hey, it's a beach.
Grades- Moderately steep to steep
Ecosystem- Lake Michigan shoreline and primary dune
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 8, 2011
Back to map

Porter Creek Trail


Trail description is from the north side of the creek to the south side. From the north parking lot walk into the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the trail begins at 9 o'clock and is marked for Foot Travel. (The map posted at the information kiosk labels it as a multi-use trail.) Walk towards the creek and turn left at the top of the gorge. The trail follows the top of the bank. Near the lake the creek is deep below you in a hemlock filled gorge, but as you walk upstream the creek bed climbs within the valley. There are interpretive signs and a bench along this section. When you reach the bridge in 7 minutes the stream is only about 15 feet below you. This is a rippling, bubbling, brown dappled stream, a joy to watch, making this a beautiful walk. Recent bank cave-ins have resulted in a number of trees falling over the creek.

At the bridge there is a bench, and a connector with the outer Multi-Use Loop angles to the left (north east). Turn right to cross the bridge and then make a hard right to loop back west along the south bank. In 8 more minutes you will come to a sign that says "No bicycles beyond this point," which refers to bikes not being allowed on the beach. The bike trail makes a left turn here into the south parking loop (at 3 o'clock position). There is a bike trail marker at this end if you are trying to locate where the trail begins from this loop. On foot, you can continue straight in the woods to the beach trails.
Access- Park at the end of FR 5629 to access the north end of the trail. Park at the end of FR 5972 to access the south end of the trail. There is a also connector from the Multi-Use Loop at the bridge.
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed. Remember this trail is shared with bikers.
Distance and time- 0.75 miles, about 15 minutes (one way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- 4" square brown bike logos mounted on posts
Condition of Marking- at junctions only, but treadway is well-maintained and easy to follow. In new snow you might lose the treadway, but just follow the creek.
Treadway- Gravel added to stabilize soil for bikes, stable footing- few roots
Grades- flat
Ecosystem- Mixed hardwood - maple, oak and beech. The ravine is filled with hemlock.
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 8, 2011
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Arrowhead Trail

This is a loop trail on dune ridges above lake Michigan and the campgrounds. You can continue on toward Nordhouse Dunes from two points along this trail. Park in the south parking area on FR 5972. If you picture yourself entering the traffic circle at the 6 o'clock position, the boardwalk begins at 12 o'clock. Follow the boardwalk till you reach a carsonite post saying "Hiker Trail" on a trail to the left. Take this, and climb moderately to the foot of the South Overlook stairs.

You can climb to the top of the hill and follow the trail which leads off the back of the clearing at the top. This will take you around the loop clockwise.

This description, however, will direct you in a counter-clockwise direction. On the lake side of the stairs is a narrow trail benched into the face of the bluff. This will climb gradually to the top rather than steeply by taking the stairs. There are a number of fenced off trails and stairs leading off from this section where previous trails and beach access points were located. Be a good steward and refrain from using them now because dune erosion has become a problem. At the top of the climb an eroded trail angles in from the left from the overlook. Go straight.

In 3 minutes you will reach a trail junction. If you turn left you are on a connector across the tip of the arrowhead. Continue straight. There is a steep bluff down to your right with white cedar, a linear wetland at the bottom, and a small dune before Lake Michigan. There are a couple of benches along this section and in 3 minutes there are pegged-in steps to the beach which are not blocked off. Continue on 3 minutes to a junction with a sign which actually says Arrowhead Trail directing you to fork left, uphill, a steep ascent. At the top is a T, turn left. This is the main turn onto the bottom of the arrowhead. (The right fork simply takes you back down to the bluff trail which continues south into Nordhouse Dunes on the Beach Trail). In 3 more minutes you reach a spot where the trail has become a very small loop. There is a post here, and a faint trail leading from the back of the loop. (This becomes more and more faint with many side trails, and eventually connects to the eastern trail south into Nordhouse, but to help prevent further degredation of the area, please do not follow this.)

Bear left from the loop and head slightly downhill. In 2 minutes you reach another junction. The main trail follows the left fork, but the right fork leads to an open area at the top of a hill where there used to be a water storage tank, and then returns to the main trail. (The central trail into Nordhouse Dunes, the Ridge Trail leaves from in back of the open area.) Three minutes later this side trail rejoins the main path. Just a few paces farther (on a separate path to the right) is a wooden stairway which leads down to the Oak campground loop, the Multi-Use Loop, and the Peters Grade. The trail has become braided here, but the main pathway is discernable.

You have now turned north to return to the tip of the arrowhead. You are on a ridge above two valleys- a nice walk with a top-of-the-world feeling. There is an area of loose sand with snow fencing along the right edge of the ridge. In 6 minutes you reach the junction with the connector trail across the tip in an open area. If you continue straight you will reach the South Overlook, and can complete the trail by descending the steps in 5 more minutes. (To avoid the stairs turn left here, or at the back side of the overlook, and then right at the T in 2 minutes to return on the trail graded in to the face of the bluff.)
Access- Park at the end of FR 5972 and follow directions to the South Overlook to reach the point of the arrowhead
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed. No bikes
Distance and time- 0.75 mile, 30 minutes. Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- 4" brown squares with routed white arrowheads, mounted on posts
Condition of Marking- At junctions only, marginally adequate. The treadway is deeply eroded for most of its length, so you probably could follow the depression even in new snow.
Treadway- Packed sand and sandy soil, deeply trenched in some places. Fairly stable footing
Grades- moderate to moderately steep
Ecosystem- Wooded dune ridges high above Lake Michigan. Oak, pine, hemlock, maple.
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 8, 2011
Back to map

Multi-Use Loop

Trail description is from the north side of the creek to the south side. To complete the loop, follow the Porter Creek Trail. From the north parking lot walk into the traffic loop at the end of the road. If you picture yourself entering this circle at the 6 o'clock position, the trail begins at 4 o'clock and is marked for bicycle use. (The map posted at the information kiosk labels it as a multi-use trail.)

Trail proceeds east through woods and crosses the road to the group campsite in 4 minutes. In 4 more minutes you will enter an open area with benches, interpretation, and butterfly houses. Some apple trees are fenced to keep the deer from eating them. An old 2-track road comes in from behind obliquely on the left, but stay on the single-track gravelled trail. Another 2-track will leave the trail to the right, but continue straight into red pines.

Nearing the road, the trail divides. The right fork crosses the road, and continues to the Porter Creek Trail. Turn left to take the outer loop. Trail turns right at a marked 4x4 post and reaches the intersection of FRs 5972 and 5629 in about 4 minutes. Cross at an angle and continue on gravelled path.

In another 4 minutes the trail will come out to the shoulder of FR 5972 (road to the campground loops), and cross Porter Creek on the road. It then turns left and re-enters the woods. There are a number of large hemlocks through this area.

In about 10 minutes you will begin to approach the west side of the campground loops. Cross a culvert and a trail which has a sign for the Wilderness to the left. Turn right at the Peters Grade Trail at a marked 4x4 post. The trail is now wide and flat as this is an old RR grade. Cross another trail with a bench at the junction. In a few more minutes, cross the marked junction with trails leading to the A class="forest12pxb" HREF="#arrow">Arrowhead Trail, the Oak Camping Loop and the Beach. Continue straight.

Soon you come to the South Beach Trails boardwalk, and the south traffic loop. If you continue straight along the bluff (by wooden fence), you will quickly come to the south end of the Porter Creek Trail, which completes this loop.
Access- Park at the end of FR 5629 to access the north end of the trail. Park at the end of FR 5972 to access the south end of the trail. There is a also connector from the Porter Creek.
Restrictions- Dogs must be leashed. Remember this trail is shared with bikers.
Distance and time- 1.5 miles, about 1 hour (one way). Mileages were measured on a topographic map and/ or verified by pacing, at which I am fairly accurate.
Trail Markers- 4" square brown bike logos mounted on posts
Condition of Marking- at junctions only, but treadway is well-maintained and easy to follow. In new snow you might lose the treadway, but should be able to follow the wide opening.
Treadway- Gravel added to stabilize soil for bikes, stable footing
Grades- flat
Ecosystem- Mixed hardwood - maple, oak and beech. Areas of hemlock.
Most recent date this info personally checked on foot- April 8, 2011
Back to map

Bicycling- The Porter Creek Trail and Multi-Use Loop are open to bicycling.

Picnicking- day use areas near both the north and south parking areas with picnic tables and grills

Playground- swings and more in the north day use area

Scenic Views- observation towers on both the north and south sides of Porter Creek offer spectacular views of Lake Michigan

Swimming- Lake Michigan beach, and outlet of Porter Creek for wading

Handicap Accessibility- restrooms and latrines are accessible
The Porter Creek Loop, and the Multi-Use Trail are hardened with gravel packed into the soil, are wide and flat, and would be suitable for wheelchairs designed for outdoor use.

Interpretive Trails-
The Multi-Use Loop tree species, ecosystem notes, B&R Railroad
The Porter Creek Trail tree species
The Porter Creek Trail geology, native american culture

Rest Rooms- Open only in summer
Potable Water- summer only at parking and picnic areas, camping loops

Access- paved roads and camp loops
Restrictions- Recreation Fee Sticker required for parking. There are self-pay tubes. $10/ night camping fee, no dogs on swimming beach, pets must be leashed.
Seasonality- road may not be not plowed in winter
Ecosystem- everything from Lake Michigan beach, small stream, xeric forest, dunes, wetlands
Other points of interest- Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness is just to the south
Additional Facilities- Flush toilets and water in summer. Playground, Camping, Picnic Area with grills, Pay phones in both parking areas. Although not described as a trail, you can always walk along the beach.
Maintained by- Michigan DEQ, but contact Huron-Manistee National Forest for information, 231-723-2211
More- A Recreation Fee sticker is required (self-pay tubes are available for daily passes, yearly passes may be purchased at a Ranger Station). Manistee National Forest Recreation Fees

[Counties] Lake County Manistee County Mason County Oceana County

From Scottville travel north on US 31 for 11.5 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 5629 (Forest Trail), which is paved and clearly marked. Go straight at the stop sign at Quarterline Road. (This is no longer a 4-way stop- be careful.) About 8 miles from US 31 Forest Road 5972 turns left. If you continue straight you will reach Lake Michigan north of Porter Creek. If you turn left, you will reach the campground loops and Lake Michigan south of Porter Creek.

From Manistee, go south on US 31. The turn on Forest Road 5629 (Forest Trail) is 4 miles south of the Manistee/ Mason County Line.

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