NCT Biking and Camping Question

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NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby jayjaywalker » July 17th, 2012, 10:16 am

I live in Chicago and plan on doing a two day mountain bike/camping trip in the Manistee National Forest (maybe tubing the pine if it is going to be 95 degrees). Does anyone have any trail or camping spot recommendations?

I am currently looking at: riding the Big M trail system on one day and the North Country Trail between Marilla and Dilling Rd. the other and tent camping somewhere nearby. Should have two cars so we could spot a car and drop tent gear somewhere if needed.
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby Nelg » July 26th, 2012, 12:12 pm

jayjaywalker wrote:I live in Chicago and plan on doing a two day mountain bike/camping trip in the Manistee National Forest (maybe tubing the pine if it is going to be 95 degrees). Does anyone have any trail or camping spot recommendations?

I am currently looking at: riding the Big M trail system on one day and the North Country Trail between Marilla and Dilling Rd. the other and tent camping somewhere nearby. Should have two cars so we could spot a car and drop tent gear somewhere if needed.


No camping recommendations, but I will suggest hitting Arcadia since you will be so close to it. While it doesn't have the climbing of Big M, it's better marked and flows awesome.
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby Ea » July 26th, 2012, 12:21 pm

I used to stay at Udell Rollways campground, which was really close to Big M. However, I think it's closed now.

It looks like this campground is very close to the Marilla trailhead:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hmnf/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=18880&actid=51

I haven't been to that one, but there's not really much to vouch for - if you don't mind rustic camping, I'm sure it will be fine!

Here's a link to some maps:
http://www.pmlodge.com/biking.html

Hope this helps. :)
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby jayjaywalker » July 26th, 2012, 7:45 pm

Thanks for the links and recommendations! Has anyone been on the NCT from Freesoil to Udell? Worth doing?
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby bh357 » July 26th, 2012, 8:47 pm

jayjaywalker wrote:Has anyone been on the NCT from Freesoil to Udell? Worth doing?


Pretty flat other than once you climb into Udell Hills. Fun section, but I prefer between Freesoil and Timber Creek. Beers Road to Dilling Road is a must do :D

I defiantly recommend The "outer loop" at Big M also. The section named "Bullwacker" Is fan-freaking-tastic (ride it CCW).
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby Mike_D » July 26th, 2012, 10:46 pm

Camping:
I have simply rustic camped on the north end of the Big M system close by where the NCT intersects the start of the Outer Loop. There is a 2 track that heads west off the road that goes south from the M-55 NCT trailhead. It borders the Big M property and some private land. I camp on the south side of this 2 track just west of the NCT on the Big M property. There is a water hand pump at the NCT trailhead on M-55 if you need water for cleaning up or if you have a H2O solar sun shower like I do.

Riding:
From this base camp you have the option of setting off on the outer loop or heading right down the NCT picking up the outer loop at the south end of the trail system. There are so many options for trail riding the NCT and the Big M system from this north basecamp that you really would not need to mess with spotting cars for riding other sections of the NCT. You could do an out and back on the NCT as far as you want from this northern base camp.

Heading up there in a couple of weeks myself with a friend for an overnight camping trip. All this talk is getting me excited about riding up there again!!!

Mike

On edit: Here is a rough location of where I would make camp on the northern edge of the Big M trail system (this road is a 2 track and I don't believe it has a street sign but I can easily drive my Vibe down the road/2 track):

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=200738594229700545191.0004c5cf192edf9bd5ad1&msa=0&ll=44.227135,-86.07655&spn=0.014069,0.019934
Last edited by Mike_D on July 27th, 2012, 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby AllMountin' » July 26th, 2012, 11:22 pm

I've stayed in the Nat'l Forest camp on the South side of the river/reservoir. I used it for a hiking/kayaking base camp. It is used by hikers on the MRT. It is on the wrong side of Hodenpyl dam for the NCT, but a drive thru Mesick would get you there without too much hassle. Rustic. Pit toilets. It's on a creek above the dam, and it's decent to swim in. Note that there is a $5 usage fee at Marilla.

Also recommend Arcadia for the second trail, though I've not ridden BigM. Not sure where to stay in Arcadia though.
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby drewlee13 » July 27th, 2012, 9:21 am

So we ended up riding NCT Udell south to Freesoil. Out and back was 30 miles. It was very remote, mostly flat and flowing. There were some really nice downhills. Planned on riding big m the next day but got rained out. We ended up hitting Yankee on the way home. One word - SAND! Here are a couple of pictures.

http://app.strava.com/activities/12631774

Image

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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby jayjaywalker » July 31st, 2012, 6:09 pm

Mike-

Great tip on the rustic camping spot. I think we are going to give that a go.
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby Mike_D » July 31st, 2012, 6:25 pm

jayjaywalker wrote:Mike-

Great tip on the rustic camping spot. I think we are going to give that a go.


A friend of mine and myself might be camping up there on August 10th (there's a good chance we will) but will definitely be up there riding on August 11th so if you want a free tour guide of the trail system and don't mind going slow, :D we can take you on some of the routes we typically traverse making for some fun downhills ridess
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Re: NCT Biking and Camping Question

Postby Mike_D » August 1st, 2012, 9:01 am

bh357 wrote:
jayjaywalker wrote:Has anyone been on the NCT from Freesoil to Udell? Worth doing?


The section named "Bullwacker" Is fan-freaking-tastic (ride it CCW).


I 2nd this :!: There is a long freaky fast downhill with a surprising 90 degree'ish left hand turn at the bottom that'll sneak up on ya :D

Trail map link:
http://mmba.org/library/maps/bigm/bigm_drg_8x11.pdf

There is also a fun downhill (starting at the steps to the base of Udell Lookout Tower) if you ride CW on "The Firetower" trail off the Sky Pilot which is also part of the outer loop.

More options and tips for Big M.....

From the north basecamp as I described in above post, there are a number of options to ride from there.

Option 1: NCT south out and back
Option 2: Shanty Boy-Road Monkey-Sky Pilot-Bullwacker-Corkpine-Lumberjack-Bindle Stiff-Gabriel's Horn-back @ base camp. When you are on the east side by the Lumberjack trail, you can add more mileage by tapping into the interior trails like Camp 24, Big Wheel, Oh Me II, Double Bit, Catamount. Just be aware that there are a lot of climbs on these interior hills.
Option 3: NCT south to Sky Pilot-The Firetower-Barber Chair-right on Oh Me II, right on Double Bit, right on Catamount, left on Bullwacker-Corkpine-Lumberjack-Bindle Stiff-Gabriel's Horn-back @ base camp

I've sometimes camped off a 2 track just before you get to the Big M main parking lot (the 2 track that parallels Lumberjack) on the east side of Big M. Just depends on the mosquito population since you are close to a swampy area. The north basecamp sometimes has a lot of ticks I have noticed so pick your poison :shock: The north basecamp has water (handpump) nearby at the NCT M-55 trailhead (and a rustic pit toilet), the east basecamp does not have water close by but it does have a "nicer" pit toilet at the Big M main parking lot if you like a throne to take care of business. If you camp on the east side, you are much closer to the interior trails so if you don't have a lot of time or if you want to go out for a "short ride", the trails are "right there".
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