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Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

The Emerald City, Manistique

By Kim Kisner, Contributing Writer

Incorporated in 1901 this small UP city was named after the then-called Monistique river running through it. A spelling error on the city charter led to its current spelling – Manistique – and now the spelling of the river.

Speaking of names, Manistique is nicknamed “The Emerald City” for the emerald green waters of the nearby Kitch-iti-kipi spring, the largest spring in the state of Michigan. The Manistique Area Schools athletic teams are referred to as the «Emeralds.» Several local businesses include «Emerald City» in their names.

The city lies on the north shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the now-called Manistique River, which forms a natural harbor that has been improved with breakwaters, dredging, and the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse.

The simple yet stunning red lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Now, on to the snowmobile and ORV trails.

With 165 inches of snow per year, access to over 2,000 miles of connected and groomed snowmobile trails, and warm, welcoming people, the city is quite a destination for snowmobilers, ORV enthusiasts and anyone interested in spending some relaxing time in the beautiful outdoors.

Spend a day, weekend, week or a season snowmobiling through the Great Lakes, into the inviting forest and over hundreds of miles of scenic spots, streams, and falls.

The snowmobile trail system extends to and connects Manistique, Shingleton Grand Marais, Marquette, Chatham, Seney, and Rapid River. The surrounding areas have so much to offer.

Manistique is situated on the south end of Michigan’s first Rail Trail, the Haywire Grade Trail/Trailhead #41. This railway was used to haul lumber from the Hiawatha national forest – some of which was used to rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871 that destroyed over 300 miles.

A ride on this unique trail out to Shingleton and back is well worth it. The north winds from Lake Superior make for 32 miles (one way) of fantastic snowmobiling.

The trails are managed by the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Association, who keep them fully groomed and pristine. During peak season on a Friday or Saturday, a groomer can pass over 250 sleds on the trail.

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring
Viewing raft at Palms Book State Park. The state park contains Michigan’s largest spring Kitch iti kipi which is Native American means Mirror of Heaven.

A Must See

An absolute must-see between or after riding is the afore-mentioned Kitch-iti-kipi (The Big Spring). The largest natural spring in Michigan – at 40 deep – it remains at 45 degrees all year round, so it is never frozen. Over 10,000 gallons of clear water per minute gush from the fissures in the underlying limestone, which can be clearly seen from a large glass-bottom raft that can be used year-round.

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

Where to Stay

The Jack Pine Lodge is a favorite. Legend has it that Blaine Brannon won the original Jack Pine Lodge in a poker game in 1936. Then in 1945, he built a new lodge only a few feet from the original one. Located directly on the Haywood Trail, trailhead #41 (Haywire), the lodge offers a restaurant pub with a full menu, rental cabins, and a great “lodge” atmosphere.

Coming in to Fish and Hunt? Check out the only motel in downtown Manistique – the Harbor Motel. Just ½ block from the marina, restaurants, bars and more, the motel also houses a fish cleaning station and two freezers to freeze your catch.

Coming in for fun beyond the trails? Check out the Gray Wolf Lodge at 6770 West US Highway. With a heated pool and spa, Three Seasons Restaurant next door, private beach lake access, nearby casino and snowmobile rental, this lodge has it all.

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring
Clydes Drive In famous burgers
Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring
Big Spring Tavern Steak Tacos

Where to Eat

Clyde’s Drive-in has a very cute old time feel. You can sit in your car, at picnic benches or or go inside. Burgers and fries are spot on. Service with a smile and quick wait time and really affordable for a family meal.

The Cedar Street Cafe is a cozy small café with a mighty menu for breakfast, lunch and specialty coffee drinks. 

Halfway between Manistique and Shingleton on the Haywire Trail, the Jack Pine Pub is the perfect stop for a cold beer, a warm handcrafted pizza and some laughs.

The Big Spring Tavern located on Highway M-149 is easy to get to if you’re on your way to or from Kitch-iti-kipi. The food is amazing, the staff are so friendly including top notch service!

If you are looking for a good beer selection and a burger, great appetizers or pizza, try out Tap21. This nostalgic speakeasy also serves craft cocktails with a smile.

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring


Looking to rent an ORV or snowmobile? Head to Agawa-Rentals at 100 8th Street, or in nearby Munising you can find Munising Snowmobile Rentals or Renze Power Sports.

So, if you are looking for some beautiful and expansive trails, a great view of Lake Michigan, some comfort food and drinks and people as down-to-earth as they come, put Manistique on your list of places to visit and you won’t be disappointed.

Manistique,snowmobile trails,ORV trails,Kitch-iti-kipi spring

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