Backpacking from Nichols Lake to Condon Lake with kids! Note, this hike is part of the North Country Trail: Nichols Lake to Highbank Lake hike found in Jim DuFresne’s book, Backpacking In Michigan.
Nichols Lake to Condon Lake on the North Country Trail (Bitely, Michigan area). May 2020.
Took the kids (6 and 7 as of this trip!) on a quick overnight backpacking trip on a section of the North Country Trail near Bitely, Michigan. We parked at Nichols Lake which is just a short drive west of Bitely, Michigan.
There’s a boat ramp as well as parking for the trailhead to the North Country Trail, so there’s ample parking (note: you have to purchase a parking pass there, so bring cash). We hiked north about 3.5 miles to Condon Lake where we spent the night, and then hiked out the next morning. The kids did terrifically! And overall, it’s not a difficult stretch of trail and definitely able to be hiked by younger children.
Check out our survival tinder balls! We used them on this trip and had a great camp fire going in no time.
There are a lot of bugs as much of this trail alternates between hills and swamps, so I’d definitely recommend on bringing the bug spray here. We saw several different groups of campers and hikers, including a number of people mountain biking this section.
The kids did quite well, but we pushed and they were a bit tired as to be expected once we made it back to the car. They enjoyed helping gather firewood, eating our ramen, and drinking tea. One thing to note as mentioned, is that bugs are quite an issue in this stretch as it is mostly swamps interspersed with hills. You’ll definitely want to bring along some decent bug spray(or mentally prepare yourself) for kids, as they tend to not enjoy getting ate by mosquitoes. We ended up doing about 3.5 miles up the trail, and then another 3.5 miles back.
Most people it appears use this as through-hike spot, and for obvious reasons. There’s not a lot to see from a nature perspective as it’s a well traveled area but with minimal sights. The small lakes don’t offer much in the way of fishing, although we did catch a small bass out of Condon Lake(there isn’t much access to the lake from shore outside of the campground located on the north west shore of the lake).
But it was still an enjoyable overnight trip!