Camp in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

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Added by Shalee Blackmer

3,450 acre wilderness area. 4 mile hiking trail along Lake Michigan to camp off of. 140 foot sand dunes. Located within Manistee National Forest. Completely cut off from cell phone reception. No crowds.

The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area is located south of Manistee along an extremely isolated shoreline. Most hikers prefer to camp two nights along the shores of Lake Michigan, but some choose to call the dunes home for weeks at a time. This is an area of backwoods camping, where sites can be established either in the woods or on sand dunes. It is also known for its hammock camping, which allows stunning beach views from the treeline.

Everything must be hiked into the campsite including all food, water, and other supplies. The beach hiking trail runs 4 miles long, with inland wooded trails lasting for miles inside the Manistee National Forest. If looking for a long beach hike, an isolated lighthouse known as Big Sable Light is a 6 mile hike south from the middle point of the dunes.

Nordhouse Dunes has a wide range of wildlife; including deer, raccoons, bears, bobcats, and coyotes. All food must be hung, buried, or kept in a scent proof container at night. Animals will chew through tent material if food is smelled.

The hiking trails can be accessed from two parking lot points. The main parking lot is located off of US 31. If camping, an overnight backpacker’s permit must be acquired at a Marathon Gas Station at the corner of US 31 and W Forest Trail Rd. Once the permit is bought, continue down W Forest Trail Rd. for approximately 8 miles until the road ends into a rounded parking lot.

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Stand Up Paddle
Chillin
Camping
Photography
Kayaking
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic

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Reviews

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Great Little Getaway

Plenty of room and beautiful scenery.

Awesome Easy Hike

It was a ton of fun for being a really short easy hike! However, definitely do not expect a challenging hike other than the fact that your walking through really sand terrain most of the time. Avoid it during the Holliday weekends because it can be hard to find a campsite where you have some solitude.

Great Hike

Did my first trip of the year( in over 20 years) and wow I really wish I had trained a lil harder. Terrain is very sandy with no shortage of elevation changes and more than a few downed trees crossing the trail. Trails aren't marked except for at the trailheads, so a little bit of backtracking should be expected. There are some great camping spots along the Lake Michigan side, and even better trees to hang a hammock from. If your back country camping you only pay $5 a night to park at either trailhead. Beautiful country and definitely worth the trip.

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4.6/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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