North and South Manitou Islands

Leland, Michigan 49654

North and South Manitou Islands

North & South Manitou Islands Professional Review and Guide

"A crossing of about 8 miles from Sleeping Bear Point across the Manitou Passage takes you to South Manitou Island. The bay at the east end of South Manitou is the only natural deep-water harbor on the east side of Lake Michigan between Chicago and the Straits of Mackinac. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the island was a refuge for ships during storms and a place to pick up firewood to fuel steam engines.

A lighthouse established in 1871 stands 100 feet above the harbor, and the lifesaving station established in 1901 is now used as a ranger station for the park. In addition to the island’s maritime history, it offers lovely sand beaches, large dune bluffs on the west side, a stand of virgin old-growth cedars, and large steel-hulled shipwreck that is visible above water. The island has a series of old roads and hiking trails that allow you to explore the island by hiking as well as by kayak."

North & South Manitou Islands Reviews

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The island is beautiful and offers a little something for everyone. We chose to backpack around the main loop of the island working counter clockwise. However, it is possible to make camp and dayhike the island. Because of a very bad storm the ferry could not pick us up and we were on the island an extra day, which gave us a chance to explore more. The maintained trails are very easy to follow almost the the point of two-track roads. I suggest following some of the shore line and unmaintained trails, especially the one in the north east coner of the island. We saw the most wildlife this way, including swans and loons. Also pack an extra tub of food, you could stash it somewhere or possibly leave it at the ranger's station. This way you don't have to pack around extra food, but it is availible if the ferry is delayed. The ranger's also collect extra non-perishable foods for a supply for stranded hikers. The rangers are very nice and helpful. The map is not the best and unmaintained trails are not blazed, making them a bit difficult to follow. Beware of racoons and chimpmonks that love to get into hiker's food supplies. Also, fires are not allowed anywhere except the village campground.

North & South Manitou Islands Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
Overnight or multiday trip
Spring to fall, weather permitting
NOAA 14912, USGS: South Manitou and North Manitou
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018