BUCKLEY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – One stretch of the Manistee River near Buckley, Michigan provides some of the most pristine river scenes and experiences anywhere in Michigan. The Highbanks Roll Away may be the most beautiful overlook in lower Michigan. This is one of those landmarks with no “official” name. It is known variously as, Horseshoe Bend Overlook, Lookout Point or the Highbanks Overlook.
When you stand at the top, the scenery is beyond description. It easily compares to the Lake of the Clouds or the Snow Bowl overlook. From the lookout it’s 200 – 300 feet down to the river. The valley below unfolds like a gigantic bowl revealing more than 100 square miles of dense pine and hardwood forest. The distant horizon runs roughly from Manton in the east, around to Meauwataka and Harrietta in the south and west to Mesick.
This part of the river is a perfect choice for floating and kayaking. The river and trails wind through pines and hardwoods, wetlands and valleys. Every kind of northern Michigan wildlife abounds. When you get down to the dam, you can pause and watch the eagles fly. A float trip will also bring you to two unique bridges: an arch timber bridge crossing Slagle Creek and a suspension bridge over the Manistee River linking the north end of the trail with the Marilla segment of the North Country Trail on the west side of the river.
Rollways were used to stock logs along the riverbank and later during the spring thaw, roll them into the water for floating. All of this is an easy day trip out of Manton, Michigan.
Directions: Make your way to the town of Buckley about 20 miles south of Traverse City on Route 37. From the post office at the downtown blinker go east until you come to a paved T. Turn right, drive a few miles to the dead end, that is 4 Road, turn left going east again. A couple miles on there is a curve in the road and a gravel road goes straight, take the gravel road. After a short distance it will split, take the road to the right. In just a short distance, you will come to the parking area. This is the North Country Trail and the highbank overlook is right there. Beautiful as the scene is, there is a better one. Turn left and walk the trail about 100 yards to the big overlook with a bench, gorgeous.