Take a weekend and take to the trails.  Manistee County is a pretty great place to drop in with the sleds for a weekend.  Two great snowmobiling clubs manage and maintain the trails in the area.  The Wellston Snowmobiling club maintains the southern trail systems (a snow report can be found here: www.wellstonwintertrails.com) and the northern portion of the trail is maintained by the Manistee Benzie Snowbirds (a snow report can be found here: www.benziemanisteesnowbirds.com)

The northern portion of Manistee County has a lot to offer snowmobile enthusiasts. For sledheads, these trails as well as dining and lodging establishments are a must visit. We have outlined some of the main hot spots along the trails as you ride north.


WHERE TO DROP IN? There are four major northern staging areas that can serve as your starting location for your day ride north. Trailer to any of these locations. If you are eager to get into Benzie County, we recommend starting a bit higher up the trail in Copemish or Bear Lake. Here is a list of potential staging areas for a Northern focused ride:

1) Kaleva is home to the Benzie-Manistee Snowbirds snow club and their clubhouse serves as a primary staging area connecting you to some of the area’s best terrain. (GPS: Lat: 44.374521 | Lon: -86.018143)

2 & 3) Bear Lake is home to two primary staging areas. One of the primary trailheads in the county is located at 13 mile road and US-31. Here you will find a restaurant, gas station and convenience store. (GPS: Lat: 44.430684 | Lon: -86.127791) You will also find a smaller staging area just north at Lumley Road and US-31. (GPS: Lat: 44.474847 | Lon: -86.122148)

4) Copemish & Thompsonville have a staging area along the trail at Vondra Rd. & M-115 (GPS: Lat: 44.499487 | Lon: -85.958984)

5) Just south of Brethren, you will find access to the Manistee River at High Bridge. This is a great spot to drop into the trail system and enjoy beautiful scenery along the Manistee River. (GPS: Lat: 44.268028 | Lon: -86.016233)

RIDE DETAILS: If you did start at the southern most location at #5, the trip north from there is spectacular along the ridge line and through the Udell Hills area along the northern side of the Big Manistee River Basin. This is a great ride all the way into Kaleva #1.

Once in Kaleva, you will continue to turn north on trail 3. As you reach the mid-point between Copemish and Kaleva, you can turn west towards Bear Lake. Here you will find a variety of dining options in the area as well as a fan favorite for snowmobilers, the Saddle-up Gas Station and Grocery Store.

From here continue north through Copemish, and you will run into the Benzie County Trail System, which is a complete loop. This is why it makes for a great out and back day trip from the heart of Manistee County. Sledheads from across the midwest will flock to this ride because of its convenience and “spend more time on the trails” idea. If you wish, you can continue north off the Benzie County loop, by taking Trail 3 north until reaching its end point in Maple City in Leelanau County. The Trail heading north, however, does not have any additional spurs and would just be an out/back ride.


Now that you have the northern segment of the trail mastered, the southern and eastern segments are just as spectacular as the northern segment. The southern system, has various trailheads that you can drop in at, and will connect you east with the Wexford County Network.

WHERE TO DROP IN? There are four major staging areas. Three are in the greater Wellston area, and one close to the City of Manistee at the Stronach Road access. From here, you can ride the southeastern Manistee County trails and hook up with the Wellston trail system further east, or the Lake County system to the south.

5) Just south of Brethren, you will find access to the Manistee River at High Bridge. This is a great spot to drop into the trail system and enjoy beautiful scenery along the Manistee River. (GPS: Lat: 44.268028 | Lon: -86.016233)

6) Within 5 miles of Manistee you will find the Steinberg & Stronach Road Staging Area. A large parking area and connection to the west trail can be found here. (GPA: Lat: 44.217261 | Lon: -86.238556)

7 & 8) Wellston is also home to two separate small snowmobiling staging areas. One is at the intersection of Low Bridge Road and M-55 (near Cooley Bridge) (GPS: Lat: 44.222719 | Lon: -85.898538)(7) The other is at Seaman Road and M-55. (GPS: Lat: 44.225027 | Lon: -85.958147)

RIDE DETAILS: Starting in Southern Manistee County, there is much great trail riding to be had. Starting at trail marker #6, you will have the shortest trail if you are staying in Manistee, as it is only about 10 minutes from the City. From there, you can head east into the heart of the trail system meticulously maintained by the Wellston Snowmobile Club. From there, you can explore the Big Manistee River basin to the north, or if you are looking to branch out east, you can continue to the elaborate network in Wexford County. Here the terrain is varied and well groomed. There are various dining locations such as Annie’s Kozy Kitchen and Coyote Crossing Resort (in Wexford County) that are great for catching up with friends and other snowmobilers.


Find great lodging in Manistee County on your snowmobiling trips.


Southern Trails/Wexford County area: www.wellstonwintertrails.com
Northern Trails/Benzie County area: www.benziemanisteesnowbirds.com