South Manitou Island, wilderness jewels in Lake Michigan and part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, are now part of the Classic Trails of Michigan map series by MichiganTrailMaps.com.
The Clarkston-based publisher, in cooperation with the National Park Service, has released two new trail maps to the Manitou islands that are both accessible by a ferry from Leland.
Unlike Mackinac and many other Great Lakes islands there are no stores, resorts, restaurants or other tourist amenities on the Manitou islands, making them true wilderness escapes.
South Manitou is a 5,260-acre island with 17 miles of trails and primitive roads that provide access to three walk-in campgrounds and various historic sites and natural features, including a stand of old growth white cedars and some of the highest dunes in Michigan. The island attracts almost 7,000 day visitors and campers annually.
Just three miles to the north is North Manitou, a 14,753-acre island with 30 miles of trails that wind through impressive stands of maple and beech, across clearings that used to be farm fields and along bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. North Manitou attracts almost 4,000 visitors a year as the premiere destination in the Lower Peninsula for backpackers.
The new maps measure 11 by 17 inches, are printed on durable card stock and are coated to be water resistant. They include all distance markers, contour lines, walk-in campgrounds, shipwrecks, historic buildings and ruins. Best of all, when folded they fit in a back pocket or the side pouch of a backpack.
The new maps will be available at Sleeping Bear Dunes visitor centers, outdoor stores throughout Michigan, the MichiganTrailMaps.com e-shop or from Manitou Island Transit (www.manitoutransit.com) , the ferry company that provides passage to the Manitou islands.
Launched in 2010, MichiganTrailMaps.com is one of the most extensive online resources for non-motorized trails in Michigan. The web site contains more than 165 trails with detailed trail maps that can be downloaded and printed, trail descriptions and directions to the trailheads. Visitors can search for a path by county, activity, region of the state or by park.