The scenery was beautiful in the fall. The leaves really give it a gorgeous picturesque appeal. This trail/campground is very versatile. You are able to kayak to campsite directly on the river but also do through hikes or backpack, and camp in different atmospheres. Hike in and do a 2-3 day hike or hike in for the day and enjoy the beautiful scenery if you’re crunched for time. Though a very popular spot, going on the weekdays allows some solitude but also comraderie when seeing the fellow hiker.
Great camping. First come, first serve- never full. Quite on the river and convenient to kayaking and canoeing locations. Nice forest and fire pits. Well and a couple outhouses.
Great place to stay. My dad and I stayed for a weekend to fish the Manistee River. The pit toilets were some of the cleanest I have ever experienced. I would definitely recommend this campground.
Most outdoor camping adventures are to capture memories and epic moments…this one was no different.
Ours is a very active family…we enjoy all things paddling, hiking, cycling, fishing. With a family spread out in age, we attempt to settle in on activities that will be somewhat of an equalizer of talent and ability…to maintain family harmony and interest. This is no easy task.
We love Michigan outdoors! We chose paddling and camping the Big Manistee River. As is the expectation when we camp…there will be rain…and this outing was no different.
Rains bloated the Big Manistee, so the sleepy river was moving pretty swiftly. We contacted Chippewa Landing…and they met us at our put in (Grayling area)…and drove our vehicle to their livery for our take out.
Obviously, we camped at different spots along the river, but our first stop was the Upper Manistee State Forest Campground and Canoe Camp. Which was perfect for dragging the boats out and placing them near our tents.
Nothing inherently special about this campground other than its convenience. It was clean (as most Michigan campgrounds tend to be)…and being on a weekday…empty…totally. Even with the copious amounts of rain, the ground is fairly sandy and there was no mud or puddling to contend with. With the rain came cooler temperatures, which we were prepared for and enjoyed.
If you haven't floated or paddled the Big Manistee…you owe it to yourself and those you love. Its a beautiful river…and on a early week paddle…we had the river to ourselves…save one fly-fisherman at our halfway point. It is still fairly primitive with few built up areas, so you feel like you are "out there."
Sadly, the trip took us less time because of the increased waterflow…probably should've explored the river banks more…or dragged anchor to slow us down. But it was, indeed, a memorable trip!
However, having the extra time allowed us to go to one of our very favorite campgrounds, D.H. Day campground in Empire. Yes, the Empire strikes back!!
This campsite is off the beaten path and it's well worth the hike. Non-reservation limited camping sites, so you better make sure you get there early. It's along the river and breath taking. With a canoe/kayak rental just down the road, it's an awesome place to spend a week. I highly recommend it.