Manistee - Cadillac - Ludington

Make a 185 mile loop for exciting fall color and visits to parks, cities and special attractions in Manistee, Cadillac and Ludington. A great fall color tour adventure depends on great fall color! Make sure you know when the colors will be peaking by checking out the most current fall color conditions. Updates are posted weekly through September and October.

Best Enjoyed: Late September to Mid-October
Approximate Length: 185 miles

Manistee, the Port City grew up in the 1800s as a lumber boomtown that in the Victorian era had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else. The booming economy produced great wealth and a high standard of living manifested in elegant mansions, an opera house style theater, and other ornate public buildings and churches designed by nationally known architects.  Situated on Michigan's west coast, Manistee has abundant woods and water that make for a great autumn color tour.

The Manistee National Forest encompasses the Manistee River's winding course through Manistee County's outdoor Mecca. Visit or contact the US Forest Service Ranger Station to find the information and the maps that you need to take advantage of all the activities available throughout the National Forest. The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, 12 Miles southwest of Manistee, is a National Forest area and the only federally designated wilderness in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. It is adjacent to the Lake Michigan Recreation Area and covers 3,450 acres. Activities include rustic camping, observation areas, swimming beach and hiking trails. That means plenty of trees provide a brilliant display of fall foliage.

The 360-foot long S.S. City of Milwaukee is the last traditional Great Lakes railroad car ferry and was built in 1931. It is now a National Historic Landmark museum permanently moored on Manistee Lake and open to the public. The ship offers guided tours, museum exhibits, gift shop, shipboard bed & breakfast, special events, facility rentals, volunteer opportunities, and the acclaimed "Ghost Ship" haunted house in October.

Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse was built from cast iron and stands 39 feet tall. The North Pierhead Light was first lit in 1927-the latest in a succession of beacons located on the site since the mid 1800s. It continues to operate as a beacon of safety for those in need, and is an architectural beauty. Access is available from the 5th Avenue Beach in Manistee.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the Manistee River Walk and see quaint Victorian shops and the unique downtown area. Kids will love the Kaleva Bottle House Museum, a registered historic site, built with over 60,000 soft drink bottles in 1941. The museum includes items relating to lumbering, farming, homemaking, office machines, railroad, local area schools and so much more.

Orchard Beach State Park is situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this 201-acre park offers a variety of outdoor recreations centered on water sports and in particular fishing. The park includes 176 campsites.
Leaf peepers who enjoy a good hike should take advantage of the North Country National Scenic Trail. This national hiking trail now stretches over 4,000 miles linking seven northern States from New York to North Dakota. One of the finest segments of the 575 miles through Michigan follow the Manistee River valley as it winds through the steep banks in eastern Manistee County.

Head east on M-55 to Cadillac, a bustling town with great restaurants, pocket parks and the Lake Mitchell waterfront. Stop by the Cadillac Convention and Visitors Bureau, or many of the area destinations to pick up your Cadillac area color tour map.  William Mitchell State Park is a popular camping, fishing and boating destination. The 334-acre park is situated between Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac and provides an excellent opportunity to view a variety of wildlife on the outskirts of Cadillac. A historic canal connects the two lakes and runs directly through the park.

Reed City
Head south on US-131 to Reed City, home of the White Pines Trail Linear State Park. The Reed City Bridge is at the northern end of the paved portion of the White Pines Trail between Big Rapids and Reed City. The bridge is a quarter mile from the Crossroads, the intersection of the White Pines Trail and the Pere Marquette Trail. Directions to the bridge are easily accessible from US-131 and US-10 (which intersect at Reed City).

Stay on US-10 west to head to Ludington with a detour in Baldwin, just 19 miles west of Reed City. Don't miss a visit to Shrine of the Pines. The Shrine of the Pines is a world famous tourist attraction that is displayed in a Northwood hunting lodge, in a secluded, wooded spot on the banks of the historic Pere Marquette River. The Shrine is the home to the great lifetime work of Raymond W. Overholzer with items on display like a table made from a 700 lb. stump, with more than 60 inlays in its top, and a rocking chair of roots so perfectly balanced it rocks 55 times with a single "start".

One of Michigan's featured Beachtowns, Ludington and Mason County are home to breathtaking natural beauty that includes two historic lighthouses, miles of pristine Lake Michigan beaches and rolling sand dunes, the Pere Marquette National Scenic River, the popular Ludington State Park, the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, Manistee National Forest area, and the largest charter fishing fleet on the great lakes.

The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is located at Ludington State Park. Visitors can tour the 112-foot tall lighthouse tower and gift shop located in the original 1867 keeper's quarters daily from May 1 to October 30. Ludington State Park offers 18 miles of hiking and biking trails; and 5,300 acres of hardwood forest and hills - a perfect spot for leaf peepers.

In the mid 1600's, French missionary and explorer Father Jacques Marquette landed on a narrow dividing Pere Marquette Lake from Lake Michigan. Father Marquette died and was buried on the peninsula in 1675. A monument now marks the site of his death on the south side of the channel. The 2.4 acre site includes 400 feet of frontage on Pere Marquette Lake and a boat launch facility. The fall colors provide a dramatic backdrop to White Pine Village, a community of more than 25 buildings in a beautiful setting on south Lakeshore Drive that preserves and presents Mason County's history and invites you to travel back in time. Enjoy the Autumn Days Festival when Historic White Pine Village is decorated in autumn splendor with pumpkins, gourds, and cornstalks. Watch apples being pressed into cider, enjoy a hayride, and reminisce over a farm machinery display and more. Live entertainment adds festive atmosphere to this harvest celebration.
Big M Cross-Country Ski and Mountain Bike Trail
Huron-Manistee National Forests
Manistee, MI 49660
Reservations: (877) 626-4783
Toll Free: (800) 821-6263
TTY: (711)-711
Phone: (231) 723-2211
The Big "M" trail is a 37.9 mile loop trail system located in a canopy of hardwoods off of M-55 between Cadillac and Wellston. The trail offers a variety of terrain to challenge every biking and skiing experience level as you traverse up and down hills through the woods. Mountain Biking. Most of the 25-miles of single track trail are one-way (clock-wise) and should not be biked backwards. The bike trail is open from April to September. Cross-Country Skiing. The 18-miles of trail are groomed and the parking lot is plowed in winter, usually starting in December. There is also a chalet available for skiers. Snowfall averages 130 inches from December to March, but the best skiing is usually in January and February. One loop provides several miles of ungroomed trail that is is perfect for snowshoeing. Although the trail is primarily used by Mountain Bikers, it is open to hiking. The trail runs near, but is not connected to, the North Country National Scenic Trail for a short stretch. The Marzinski Horseback Riding Trail also crosses the Big M trail at two locations.
Lake Michigan Recreation Area
Huron-Manistee National Forests
Manistee, MI 49660
Toll Free: (800) 821-6263
TTY: (711)-711
Phone: (231) 723-2211
This campground borders Lake Michigan to the west and Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area to the south. There are two accesses for the beach, one at the end of both roads. There are several historical interpretive signs along the campground trails discussing history and dune ecology of the area. The Violet and Hemlock Loops have a pressurized water system. The picnic ground has a well system.
S.S. City of Milwaukee & USCGC Acacia
99 Arthur Street
US-31, North
Manistee, MI 49660
Phone: (231) 723-3587
The 360-foot long steamship City of Milwaukee is the last traditional Great Lakes railroad car ferry and was built in 1931. It is now a National Historic Landmark museum permanently moored on Manistee Lake and open to the public for guided tours. The knowleable guide will explain as they take you through all five decks. Learn about 1920's technology in the engine room. You will see the crew and officer quarters. You will also see the beautiful passenger deck with oak walls and brass accent's. You will finish off the tour seeing the Captains quarters and the wheel house. Museum exhibits are housed inside two of the ships boxcars.With reservations, you can stay the evening and enjoy stepping back into a simpler time walking the decks, meeting new friends or just pass the evening playing period and newer family games. The gift shop is located on shore. The ships are available for special events and facility rental. There are many volunteer opportunities available. The acclaimed "Ghost Ship" is operated Friday and Saturdays in October on board of the City of Milwaukee. The USGC Acacia is a 1944 buoy tender/icebreaker. Retired in 2006, Acacia is now moored next to the SS City of Milwaukee and is available for self guided tours. The Acacia is available for facility rentals, overnight opportunities for scout groups, and fishing parties. Marina slips are available and one travel trailer is available for weekly rental. Call for info.
Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse
Lake Michigan Coast
Fifth Avenue Beach
Manistee, MI 49660
Toll Free: (877) 626-4783
Located in Manistee county, on the west end of the north pier. The light was replaced in 1873, when the new structure was augmented with a combination fog signal and light tower at the end of the wooden north pier. To make access to the light safer during stormy weather, this new light was outfitted with an elevated wooden catwalk running from the shore to the light.
Manistee Riverwalk
70 Maple Street
Manistee, MI 49660
Toll Free: (877) 626-4783
Phone: (231) 398-9355
This boardwalk wanders along the shore of the Manistee River 2.75 miles through downtown Manistee to Lake Michigan. It is the most interesting urban pathway in these four counties. There is parking provided at multiple locations along the length of River and Water Streets in Manistee, and at 1st Street Beach. Designed for pedestrians and handicapped accessible, there are multiple benches, picnic areas, interpretive signs, private docks, charter fishing docks and nearby businesses. The trail ends at Lake Michigan. There are lights at the east end, so you could stroll the downtown sections after dark on a summer evening.
Kaleva Bottle House Historic Museum
14551 Wuosi Avenue
Kaleva, MI 49645
Phone: (231) 362-2080
Built in the 1940's, by John Makinen out of 60,000 bottles from the local bottling factory, today it houses the Kaleva Historical Museum. The hours to visit are Saturdays and Sundays, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend from 12:00-4:00. To schedule a group tour contact Beverly Johnson at (231) 362-2487. Be sure to see this unique house which is on the National Historic Register!
Orchard Beach State Park
2064 Lakeshore Road
Manistee, MI 49660
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (231) 723-7422
Orchard Beach State Park is situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. A stairway leads from the campground to the beach and self-guided hiking trails are adjacent to the park. We have 166 campsites, one mini cabin, two paved handicap sites and two rest room and shower buildings. We also have a large shelter building sitting atop the bluff which is available for rent for reunions, meeting, etc. Metal detecting area.
North Country National Scenic Trail
229 E Main Street
Lowell, MI 49331
Toll Free: (866) 445-3628
Phone: (616) 897-5987
The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest hiking path in America's National Trails System. Stretching through seven states, the North Country Trail will be 4600 miles long when completed. The Trail winds through a diversity of north country landscapes from the rugged to the pastoral. The North Country Trail Association is the organization of volunteers dedicated to building this trail and telling its story. Almost 1500 miles of this national trail are located in the state of Michigan.
Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau
201 N. Mitchell Street, Suite 102
Cadillac, MI 49601
Toll Free: (800) 225-2537
Phone: (231) 775-0657
Where the forest is bigger, & the towns are smaller, Welcome to Cadillac. We have 300+ miles of multi-terrain trails during the spring, summer & fall for hikers, bikers, and walkers. Combine our trails and natural attractions with over 90,000 acres of state and national forest, three major rivers, two large lakes, and nine golf courses, and we are your Up North destination. After the day in the great outdoors, Cadillac offers unique shopping boutiques, three bowling centers, a roller skating rink, a championship ice rink, two full service health & fitness facilities, a 3D movie theater, museums, and mouthwatering cuisine at local restaurants. Add our recreation and attractions to a line-up of festivals, farmers markets, and cultural arts events, and you will have a fun-filled, or relaxing get away – either way. Welcome to a small town with a big heart. Visit us during the winter, we offer 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, 34 downhill ski runs with 485 feet of vertical drop, and over 60 miles of designated cross country ski and snow shoe trails.
Mitchell State Park
6093 East M-115
Cadillac, MI 49601
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (231) 775-7911
221 site campground located on canal between Lakes Mitchell & Cadillac. Modern facilities, electricity and dumping station, sandy beaches for swimming. Both lakes are noted as fine walleye fisheries. Boating is available with launching facilities on both lakes. Easy hiking on the Mitchell-Heritage Nature Trail, 2.5 miles in length, mostly a woodchip path with bridges and boardwalks. Trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. The visitor center open year round displays hunting & fishing exhibits. Open all year. Metal detecting area.
Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park
6093 M-115
Cadillac, MI 49601
Phone: (231) 775-7911
This linear trail state park is 92 miles long. An 88-mile section is open from Cadillac to Grand Rapids. The trail surface is natural ballast and hard packed gravel, with 15 miles of asphalt pavement from Cadillac south to Leroy, another 13 miles from Reed City to Big Rapids and 22 miles from Sand Lake to Grand Rapids. This trail provides a scenic flat route through Michigan's countryside and winds through Morley, Stanwood and Paris.
Reed City Covered Bridge
U.S. 131 and U.S. 10
Reed City, MI 49677
Phone: (231) 832-6149
The bridge is an attractive addition to the White Pines Trail Linear State Park and a quarter mile from the Crossroads. Built in 2000. The White Pines Trails is 92 miles in length. It is operated by the parks division of the Department of Natural Resources. As a state park passes are required. Directions to bridge is easily accessible from U.S. 131 and U.S. 10 (which intersect at Reed City). Travelers on 131 should take Exit 153 and go east on U.S. 10. At the four-way-stop sign (Welcome to Reed City sign) turn toward Reed City. About ¼ mile form the corner the Covered Bridge will be on the left hand side of the road.
The Shrine of the Pines
8962 South M-37
Baldwin, MI 49304
Reservations: (231) 745-7892
Phone: (231) 745-7892
The Shrine of the Pines is a world famous tourist attraction that is displayed in a Northwood hunting lodge, in a secluded, wooded spot on the banks of the historic Pere Marquette River. The Shrine is the home to the great lifetime work of Raymond W. Overholzer which display dozens of items like: A table made from a 700 lb. stump, with more than 60 inlays in its top. A rocking chair of roots so perfectly balanced it rocks 55 times with a single "start". A fireplace constructed of 70 tons of native stone. Walking on the path you come across the Widows Cabin, looking through the pane glass window glimpse at a few of the more than 400 hand crafted souvenir items. Open May 15 thru October 15.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse
8800 w M116
Ludington State Park
Ludington, MI 49431
Phone: (231) 845-7417
Big Sable Point Lighthouse was the first station constructed in this area. The Ludington North Breakwater Light in downtown Ludington guides vessels through the channel connecting the harbor, Pere Marquette River, and Lake Michigan. You can walk along the beach or the road in the Ludington State Park to reach the lighthouse. Open 7 days a week 10am to 5pm from May 1st to October 25 2015. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children 12 and under.
Ludington State Park
8800 W. M-116
Ludington, MI 49431
Reservations: (800) 447-2757
Phone: (231) 843-2423,4570,7-153-10369_46675_58557---,00.html
The park has 5,300 acres, frontage on Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake, 347 campsites, 18 miles of hiking and biking trails including the Skyline trail and 16 miles of cross country ski trails, interpretive center, swimming, fishing, hunting and boating. The park also offers wildlife viewing from its extensive trail system. An official Michigan Viewing Area. Metal detecting area. Ludington State Park offers many great attractions, classes, hikes, and interpretive programs year round. Visitors can learn about the sand dunes, the Great Lakes, the history of Big Sable Point Lighthouse, lumber town, and the Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Most programs are free, and reservations are not necessary.
Historic White Pine Village
1687 S. Lakeshore Drive
Ludington, MI 49431
Phone: (231) 843-4808
Visit Historic White Pine Village and rediscover small-town Michigan life in the late 1800s and beyond. The beauty, serenity, nostalgia of White Pine Village ensures an exciting, educational experience for the entire family. Visit any of the 29 buildings that are filled with thousands of artifacts that interpret their setting in history. Visit our maritime, lumbering, music museums, blacksmith shop, general store, school, old fashioned ice cream parlor, chapel, gift shop, trapper's cabin and more.