FYI: here's an old thread I have on route-ish stuff for the NCT Kipp road section. If you send me an email to jal at msu dot edu, I'll send you the track I have.
You can see pics of the section and pump here: http://zipspot.blogspot.com/2013/05/nct ... fling.html
Here's a map that you may want to peruse: http://northcountrytrail.org/hrb/Maps.html
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I also rode there on Saturday as well, heading north from the Kipp Road TH to Levering Road. The trail is in great shape, I highly recommend it, good climbs and super flowy in areas. You could make a Roadie-Trail ride from Cross Village into Harbor Springs, hook up the bike path to where the trail splits east to Conway (by the brewery on 31), roadie it up to the Kipp Rd TH and take the trails to Levering Road, where you would then turn left and head back into Cross Village. I'd say the section Derek rode is a bit more fragile in trail surface (and more hike-a-bike-ish type steepness with sand) than from Kipp -> Levering.
Either way, I don't think there's any section of the NCT that i wouldn't recommend, depending on your level of adventure.
Jim, thx for info. How long would you say the kipp to levering takes? I'll ride it in both directions.
If you're doing an out and back, I would say to only go to Van Road, the next few miles from the trail to Levering are dirt/paved roads. Loaded with gear it took me ~1hr 45 mins to head north and I'm assuming it would be about the same going back south so I'd say about 2-1/2 hours unloaded for an out and back. You can get water at the town hall per your map at the corner of Stutsmanville and Pleasantview roads.
Attached is the gpx file of the out and back. You can use (the free version of) Topofusion to open and view the file. http://www.topofusion.com
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