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Manistee Quest - High Adventure Treks

Owasippe's Crown High Adventure Base hosts week-long backpacking and float treks in the Manistee National Forest on the North Country National Scenic Trail and along intersecting rivers.

North Country National Scenic Trail


The Carlen High Adventure Base (CHAB) is a fully-staffed section camp at Owasippe devoted solely to administering backpacking treks and canoe float trips through the Manistee National Forest just east or north of Owasippe via a program dubbed "The Manistee Quest". From this base camp, older Scouts or Venturers will receive training in specific skills necessary for their selected trek, get detailed instructions regarding their gear and route, participate in a mini-trek prior to their departure, and enjoy some recreation activities before and after their trek. Crews will operate solely from CHAB rather than from any of the other reservation section camps that they can attend.


The trek or "quest" is a 5-day and 4-night excursion that will follow the North Country National Scenic Trail with optional rendezvous with the Muskegon, Pere Marquette, Pine, or Manistee Rivers for day or overnight float trips... "all the streams of the Potawatomi".   All treks will be accompanied by a trained Owasippe trail guide.  Two of the above-mentioned rivers are "white-water" routes and should be traversed by experienced canoeists only.

Separate canoe trips of 1-3 days in length can be arranged through CHAB by any Owasippe unit but "combo" treks consisting of both backpacking and canoeing must enroll through the Carlen High Adventure Base. Troops interested in one-day hikes along the North Country Trail, 10-20 milers, may also make these arrangements through CHAB but must also provide their own leadership.

Patches will be available for base camp enrollment, the Manistee Quest, and canoe trips.

> Manistee National Forest

> Manistee River Trail Spur

> The North Country Trail

> North Country Trail Assoc

> Trail Food And Equipment

Backpacking Resource Material

^ A Trekkies Resource Companion ^


*** TREK COSTS (if paid by May 1):

> Backpacking Only...$225pp (min 2 Scouts + 4 Leaders)
> Backpack+Canoe.....$245pp (min 4 Scouts + 2 Leaders)
> Backpack+Canoe.....$265pp (min 4 Scouts + 1 Leader)
> Backpack+Canoe.....$285pp (individual Scout on a provisional trip.
> NO Out-Of-Council surcharge
> Crew Deposit of $100 paid with reservation
> One FREE leader with every 8 Scouts

*** NOTE: For units willing to take into their crew another Scout(s) who have insufficient adult leadership, a fee discount will be applied to their trek costs.

> Manistee Quest Trek Reservation Form


* Registered Scouts or Venturers who will be age 13 by January 1 of the year of the trek.
* Recommended First Class Rank AND unit leader approval for a high-adventure and physically challenging experience.
* Minimum of 1 adult leader who must be age 21. All adults must be registered Scout leaders.
* Minimum crew size is 6; Maximum crew size is 10.
* All participants must have physician's approval to participate and a completed BSA Class-3 Physical #34412.
* Individual Scouts may apply for "provisional" participation with crews and leaders assembled by Owasippe utilizing staff or other unit crews.

Backpacking MB Available Here
Backpacking MB


~ Transportation to and from trailhead
~ Trail tents for every two people in crew
~ One trail tarp per crew
~ Basic first aid kit
~ Trail food
~ Dry bags including zip-locks
~ Water purifiers
~ Topographical maps and instructions for selected route

NOTE: Units are responsible for rope, pin pegs, fuel, stoves, cooking implements, other safety equipment, and cell phone. Units may bring their own tents/tarps.

> Campmor Discount Outdoor Gear

> Outdoor Gear Finder

> Footcare and Backpacker Magazine


Owasippe Overview

Contact Owasiron

OSR Resources FACQs

Sassy-Links And Portals

THE SCARLET SASSAFRAS... Owasippe's"Unwebsite" & E-zine

North Country Trail offers quite a hike
Friday, July 14, 2006
By Howard Meyerson
Press Outdoors Editor
WHITE CLOUD (Mich) -- The narrow, pointed stump was a dead giveaway.   There were beaver in the area. No surprise.
The four of us had been skirting a large wetland complex, walking a
scenic five-mile segment of the 4,600-mile North Country Trai. "That
one had to have some sharp teeth," said Roger Meyer, pointing to a
smooth and pointy stem.
The original trail through this part of the Manistee National Forest
was under water. A new segment had been routed around the standing
pond created by a nearby beaver dam.
Score 1 for the beavers.
"I like this section," said Meyer, 71, a retired engineer from Grand
Rapids and charter member of the West Michigan chapter of the North
Country Trail Association. "It's different and it's not hard."   To be sure. And it was proving a delightful hike.
I had met three local NCTA members at the trail, Meyer and Jack and Elaine Buege from Sparta. The couple are avid hikers who spend their
vacations day hiking or backpacking in the Adirondack high country or
in places such as Glacier National Park.  
The plan was to explore a short segment of a long trail. The NCT is a
4,600-mile National Scenic Trail that spans from New York to North
Dakota. There are 1,150 miles routed through both peninsulas of
Michigan. About 749 miles of that is hikeable.
Roughly 120 miles of that runs through the Manistee National Forest.
The 5 1/2-mile segment we chose runs between 13 mile/Cleveland Rd.
and 16 mile Rd., just north of White Cloud.   Hikers can park at the trailhead lot at Nichols Lake on the south end, but parking is more casual on the north side. We found a place to park off the road in a woodsy clearing near the trail.
"It's a nice section," said Kathy Bietau, recreation planner for the
Baldwin Ranger District of the national forest. "It has got some
elevation and has some ups and downs with several nice views of the
lakes."   The trail passes by five lakes and wetlands along its route -- or  what is left of some that are now nearly dry. The lakes are all that
remain of the glaciers that once covered the area.   They are glacial kettle lakes, deep depressions in the landscape formed eons ago. They were created when big pieces of ice broke off moving glaciers and got buried in the dirt. When the glacier receded leaving dirt-covered blocks, the melting ice filled the holes.
"They are really popular for fishing," said Bietau, who said they
also are a big draw for campers and backpackers.
Some just come up for the camping. Others throw up a tent as they are
passing through. One nice aspect of a long-distance hiking trail is
the option to go short or long, adding miles and days if a hiker
Camping is permitted anywhere in the national forest, provided camp
is at least 200 feet from the trail or any lake. Camping also is
allowed at designated primitive sites located at Condon and Sawkaw
lakes, where there are wilderness privies and fire-rings but little
else. Rustic camping also is offered at Highbank Lake Campground.
An adventurous hiker with an interest in fishing might consider
packing in a lightweight float tube and a rod. Lakes such as Sawkaw
and Condon are known for their bass, bluegill and pike, according to
But on this day, fishing was not on the agenda. Our group started out
hiking south from 16 mile Rd., where the trail starts out relatively
flat.   It sets off through a lush green forest, meandering through a sea of bracken ferns and pine. One quickly notices that the trail is easy to
follow. It is not only well tramped, but it is also well marked.   The obvious head-high blue blazes are easy to spot on trees at a distance. Where you find two, one over the other, the trail will change direction.
The painted trail markers are the work of NCTA volunteers, people
such as Meyer, who has adopted a seven-mile stretch in another part
of the forest. Each year, he and the others go out carrying a hand
saw, clippers, paint brush and a can of blue paint. They make sure
the trail is free of obstacles and that the route is easily seen.
The blazes lead us on through the forest, which begins to change
before long, becoming lightly rolling and then ever more so, taking
us gently up to the high ridges that border the lakes.
At no point does the trail become difficult or steep. Where a high
bluff appears, the trail veers conveniently to a create a low-angled
walk up, with a switchback if necessary.
Three hours plus out, having stopped for lunch at one lake and to
chat with a camper at another, the four of us arrive back at Nichols
Lake and a car.
The Bueges, who became Adirondack 46'ers last year, which means they climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondack mountain range more than 4,000 feet in elevation, said the hike is a good one, a nice warmup for
their next adventure.   "What I like about this trail is that it's not hard," said Elaine Buege, a former Kent County Commissioner. "You can take your kids on a hike like this, even fairly young kids. People can get out and have a pleasant experience without killing themselves."
Send e-mail to the author:
2006 Grand Rapids Press
[Note:   2007 would be the 10th anniversary of this program which utilizes the scenic North Country Trail, however there has been some talk about cancelling this program from the CAC Director of Camping.  The "NCT" hosts Owasippe's "Manistee Quest" guided trek program.  Owasippe uses the nearest 100-mile long segment of it, closest trail head for which is about 1/2 hour east of Camp Blackhawk near Fremont.  If your unit has an interest in CAC sustaining and offering this guided trek program, you should write to Council President Jack Jadel at the CAC service center at 1218 W Adams, Chicago IL 60607-2802.  Unit signups, though, will work best.]

GORP's Guide To Backpacks

^ Click on to the above for GORP's tips on backpack selection and other backpacking tips.

Owasippe's Playground, The Manistee National Forest


> 120 Miles of marked trails in the North Country National Scenic Trail...within an hour's drive of Owasippe
> Overnight or Day canoe trips along the Muskegon, White, Manistee, Pere Marquette and Pine Rivers
> Sightings of bald eagle, wild turkey, black bear, white tailed deer, beaver, grouse, and coyotes.
> Trail planning and trek training at CHAB
> Assigned Owasippe Trail Guide
> Public campgrounds and designated campsites enroute
> Major equipment items provided by CHAB
> Transportation to and from trailheads provided
> Recreation activities provided at CHAB
> Steak dinner on the day you return from your trek
> "Special Issue" patch awarded to trekkers
> 50-Miler Award available to participants
> A great opportunity for older Scouts and Venturers seeking a challenging activity outside the summer camp norm and in an incredibly wild and scenic natural environment... a great prep for Philmont and other trek venues.

For More Information or To Sign Up...CALL the Chicago Area Council Camping Center at 312-421-8430 Owasippe Reservation Director Greg Lange at