Mason County
Exact Location:
Mason County is positioned between Lake and Manistee Counties along the North Country Trail in Michigan's Lower Peninsula
Mason County satellite image
Mason County, Michigan, and the approximate route of the North Country Trail in blue (Google satellite image with trail overlay)

Most of Mason County is rural in nature with a strong agricultural history. Ludington, on the Lake Michigan shore is the largest community. Total population is about 29,000 and the county seat is Ludington. The North Country Trail passes through no communities, and near no services, in the county.

Trail Overview:

boardwalk in Dead Horse Marsh Mason County Michigan
the boardwalk through Dead Horse Marsh (photo by jhy)
The North Country Trail enters Mason County at Tyndall Road and leaves it at County Line Road just south of Nine Mile Bridge on the Manistee River, about 5.4 miles of trail, most of which is off road. There is one roadwalk: about 0.25 mile (and an additional 0.5 mile in Manistee County) to cross the Little Manistee River.

Mason County has relatively easy trail miles with a good backcountry experience. Dispersed camping is allowed within the Manistee National Forest.


Mason County was formed in 1840 and first named Notipekago County, an Odawa word that means "heads on sticks." A battle between the Odawa and Mascouten tribes in the 1600s, on the banks of the Pere Marquette River was memorialized by the native peoples by placing the skulls of fallen warriors on sticks in the riverbank. In 1843, the county was renamed for Stevens T. Mason, governor of Michigan at the time.

Ludington is a summer tourist destination. The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area and Ludington State Park are also located along the lakeshore in Mason County.


Glacial action is responsible for the geology of Mason County. The soil is sandy with few erratic boulders. Hills are primarily remnants of an end moraine that covered most of the state. The hills are gentle to moderate and the forest floor consists of stabilized sand. Breaking the surface layers often leads to sandy, eroded places on the trail. The trail passes through Dead Horse Marsh on a 700-foot boardwalk. The area floods only about every 10 years, but when it does, the water rises to the level of the boardwalk.

personal experience and various public records
Every effort is made to provide up-to-date accurate information, but errors are bound to occur. Please contact about errors, corrections or additions.

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The North Country National Scenic Trail is 4800 miles long, spanning eight states. For more information, visit the North Country Trail Association