Jay probably won't be able to make this trip so asked me to plan and lead it. I spoke with the rangers in Manistee NF, and they recommended a 22-mile loop in the Manistee River Valley. The loop combines the Manistee River Trail with a section of the North Country Trail.
The trail is rated moderate to challenging, and according to the NF website has "old-growth hardwood, bubbling streams and fern-filled glades" with "white-tailed deer, woodpeckers and bald eagles". Supposed to be one of the nicest trails in the lower penninsula.
Since it is a fairly long drive (7-8 hrs), I suggest we leave early Thursday and plan to hike in about 3 miles along the Manistee River that afternoon to some campsites near a waterfall.
Friday we would hike 8-10 miles to join up with the North Country Trail. Saturday would be another 6-8 miles, with a short 3 mile hike out Sunday morning. We should be back in Cincinnati between 6 and 8PM.
There is a $3/day parking fee, and we would share the cost of gas. We'll plan on eating on the trail Thursday dinner through Sunday breakfast, and will stop on the road for other meals while driving.
If you have questions please call Barry Randall[masked], or drop a comment on this Meetup.