Southwest of Mesick in the Huron-Manistee National Forest, the 12 mile Manistee River Trail follows the eastern shore of the Manistee River, one of the finest trout-salmon streams. It's a flat hiking route through pine and groves of oak and maple. The route runs from Red Bridge in the south to Hodenply Dam Pond in the north (good trailhead park at NFS Seaton Creek Campground).
To reach the Red Bridge trailhead from Cadillac, follow SR55 west. Turn north on SR37 for 9 miles. Head west on SR30 for 5 miles to Coates Road, then turn right and follow signs.
A nice loop can be formed with the North Country Trail, which runs near the west side of the river.
Overall, Manistee River Trail is the 1st most popular hiking trail of all 32 hikes in Michigan.