Fifteen members and friends of Solar Outdoors gathered in northern Michigan October 9-11 for a casually organized car camping and hiking weekend. They camped at the Old US-131 State Forest Campground, north of Cadillac and south of Fife Lake, along the Manistee River. The focus of this getaway was enjoying the fall colors. The North Country Trail can be accessed from the campground, and trip organizer Ann Riley-Gawura provided several suggestions for hikes. While hiking was the most popular activity, some enjoyed fishing and kayaking. The campground doesn’t accept reservations, but all were able to find a site on their own or with others, and it was a bargain at $15 per site per night. Meals were mainly prepared at campsites, though some dined at local restaurants. Evenings were spent around campfires. What to consider for next time? Having a ‘real’ map of the area in your car can be useful for driving to where cars are staged for hikes, and avoids over-reliance on electronics. Some found cell service to be spotty or not available. And be sure to order the exact same meteorological conditions for the next outing. The weather was amazing (a little chilly one night, so not quite perfect), with sunshine during the days, and clear skies for stargazing. Here are some of the participant’s favorite things from the weekend and pictures of the beautiful autumn colors! Enjoy!
This was my first time camping in this part of the state. I loved hiking 10.4 miles from Harvey Bridge to High Banks Rollway Vista one day, and six miles, out and back, Baxter Bridge to High Banks, the next day. Great views, and going up and down hills provided a sense of satisfaction.
Ann’s efforts to research where to stay and what to do make things easy for the rest of us. We got to know others a little more and helped each other in various ways. A fabulous weekend!
Just to say we had a great time together at Old 131 SFCG. It was my first time in that area, along the beautiful Manistee River, but not my last. The combination of forest and river was breathtaking and did Mother Nature provide? Abundantly!! At times, while hiking well-marked trails, the leaves showered down upon us creating smiles on everyone’s faces. The hikes were challenging enough to pump the blood but not daunting and many to choose from. I see a future paddle trip as campsites are conveniently placed along the river for several days of paddling and camping.
Ann Riley – Gawura
How we spent our weekend: Lots of hiking!
- Old US 131 SFCG to Old US 131 roadside Park. 4 miles out and back.
- Harvey Bridge to High Banks Rollway Vista. 10 miles.
- Baxter Bridge SFCG to High Banks Rollway Vista. 6 miles out and back.
- Mo and Dave, Mary and Karen – Old US 131 SFCG and along the western leg of the Fife Lake Loop. 11 miles. (this was supposed to be about 4 miles but they got lost?)
- Heidi and Linda – 2 hr Kayak on the Manistee River
Things to remember and recommend for our next trip to the area:
Warmer sleeping gear
High quality, detailed printed maps
Research and suggest kayaking on the Manistee River
Make this an annual event, Oct 8-10, 2021!!
Favorite part of the trip was fall colors and toasty campfires
Recommend for next time, more people and warmer nights.
The campground was beautiful and peaceful.
We found an Indian trail marker #16. I would like to hike the whole trail and find all 33.
Recommend for next time, more Twinkies to toast!
Heidi Tietjen and Linda Ringlein
Thank you to the Solar Outdoors members who shared their experiences and beautiful photographs! If you have an event or trip that you’d like featured in the Solar Ray Blog, then please email email@example.com.