I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, that even growing up next to the Manistee National Forest, literal minutes from the North Country Trail, my first time hiking it was this past winter… in my mid 30’s!  While my preferred adventure typically includes a glass of wine on the patio or beer next to the pool, as the years progress, I yearn for more interaction with nature.


Determined to make my maiden voyage on the North Country Trail, my daughter and I took advantage of the rare winter sunshine and ventured out for our first hike through the woods.  As beginners, we simply geared up in our tennis shoes & jackets and off we went.  We started at the North Country Trail M-20 Trailhead, which is easy to find, about 11 miles East of Hesperia.


This stretch of the trail is perfect for beginners, as it is a relatively easy hike.  It has minimal inclines and a fairly smooth path.  This trailhead has a small parking area, a map to show where you are on the trail and even a “guest book” to sign.

Mother and Daughter Hiking


We followed the blue dots on the trees, which mark the North Country Trail.  She and I competed to see who could find the dots first, which was a great way to keep her entertained as we went on.

Admiring the rows of pines with the sunlight filtering through, we trekked on.

Rows of Trees

My six-year-old was so excited, she ran ahead of me most of the first half.


Trail through woods

Only minutes into the trail, we felt secluded and surrounded by nature.  It was so peaceful, even though we were still so close to the very busy state highway.

As this was our first adventure, we turned around to head back after about 20 minutes, this time with her on my back.


Daughter riding on mother's back


While the North Country Trail spans over 4,000 miles across 8 states, any stretch in Newaygo County is perfect for a connection with nature.  You can easily find several trailheads to choose from and dozens of access points across the 50+ miles of trail in Newaygo County.  More information about the North Country Trail can be found at http://www.northcountrytrail.org.

Where will you choose to take your first hike?

Julie Burrell is a 30 something married mom of 2 hailing from Hesperia.  By day she supports businesses across the Newaygo County region.  In her spare time she enjoys exploring with her family.