Canoeing

Upper Peninsula


Au Train River:
17 miles (2 days)

This river runs north to Lake Superior through waters that contain Perch, Pike, Trout and Bass. The water depth ranges from 12 inches to four feet deep. It has high banks and the bottom is mostly sand. This region is heavily wooded and good for game. None of the water is dangerous, but watch out for snags. There are many rocky cliffs, caves, and ledges.


Black River:

40 miles for EXPERTS ONLY

From the put in on the Michigan-Wisconsin border down to the first bridge, it would take about one day for the novice canoeist. From there, the expert would have to take over. North of M-25 there are a number of falls and rocky chasms. There are no cut portages. The depts. Of the river ranges from 1 foot all the way to 6 feet deep, and has a mud and sandy bottom. There is fishing for Rainbow and Brook Trout.


Carp River:

8-10 miles (1 day)

North of Ishpaming, off County Road 573 on Deer Lake is the recommended put in point. There is a on-third mile portage around a dam on the East end of the lake. The river itself offers an excellent trip for seeing marsh wildlife. There is fishing for Perch and Brook Trout. The water on the river is NOT safe for drinking. There are short rapids above the take out point on Old US 41, East of Negaunee.


Indian River:

50 miles (2-3 days)

There is no fast water on this trip, and there are many take out spots. The recommended put in is at the US Forest Service Wildewater Campground, and the recommended end of the trip is at the boat landing on Indian Lake. The river contains Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout.


Manistique River:
63 Miles (1-2 weeks)

This trip takes you from Germfask down to the US Forest Service merwin Creek Campground through generally wide and slow waters. You’ll find two campgrounds and a landing site along this 45 mile canoe trail. State land borders much of the trip and there are a number of sand points and high ground for overnight or rest stops. There are Pike, Bass, Walleyes, and Trout to be caught.


Ontonagon River:

25-30 miles (1-2 days)

The Ontonagon’s four branches (West, South, Middle, and East) are not recommended for canoeing, and therefore are not described here. The main river however, from Military Bridge on US 45 to Lake Superior, is fine canoeing water. It is delightful scenery which offers your camera a good workout. Rapids on the Ontonagon can be portaged with little difficulty.


Paint River:

40 miles (2-6 days)

This is Small Mouth Bass water, but it also contains some Northern Pike. Gibbs City is the suggested starting point. There is a portage about 13 1/2 miles from Gibbs City, and about 3 miles below Hemlock Rapids is a put in/take out point at a county highway bridge. Chicagon Slough is about five miles downstream; fish for Northerners along the right shore. The Paint crosses US141 about five miles below the slough and about 3 miles beyond this is Crystal Falls power dam, which is a necessary portage. To continue from here, arrange to have a truck take you and your gear to the M-69 bridge about two miles below the dam. You will then be in about nine miles of backwater above the Little Bull Rapids Power Dam. This is your recommended take out point.


Sturgeon River:

15 miles (1 day)

The suggested put in is about 10 miles north of US 2 on Federal Highway 13. The trip takes you to the river’s mouth in Namha. There are campgrounds along the way.


Tahquamenon River:
63 miles (1-2 weeks)

Your trip should begin about 1 1/2 miles north of McMillan at a landing site off County Road 415. Plan on running 15 miles the first day through an extensive Willow marsh that has no campsites. Below this marsh, campsites are numerous. The only portages are at the upper and lower falls where you may wish to line through or at least use a drag. The river water is NOT fit to drink!!! However, there are springs along the way that provide fresh water. Banks are generally high and heavily timbered. There is wildlife and the scenery is exceptionally beautiful. Fishing is good for Walleyes, Perch, Northern Pike, Rock Bass, and Trout in feeder streams and just below the lower falls. Do not attempt this trip in June or July because of Black Flies.


Sylvania Wilderness -

An 18,327 acre area of land located a few miles west of Watersmeet, Michigan. Wildlife abounds in the park, with White-tailed Deer, Black Bear, Grey Wolves, Porcupines, Bobcat, Beaver, Otter, Coyote, Fox, Bald Eagle, Loon, Osprey, and many more.

(Corner of US 2 and Hwy 45)
P. O. Box 276
Watersmeet, MI 49969
(906) 358-4724 or (906) 358-4834
Lower Peninsula


Black River:
30-35 miles (1-2 days)

Put in below the dam at Croswell. This trip will take you to the Port Huron Area (after flood time until low water period in the summer). Watch for trees in the riverbed. Portage points are just north of the Sanilac County line, Fords Dam, and at the Old Mill Dam at Wadhams. There are no liveries. This is a good trip to see deer, beaver, and other types of wildlife. This trip can be shortened by taking out at many places, or you can continue down to the landing at the I-94 bridge near Port Huron.


Ocqueoc River:
30 miles (2-3 days)

Canoes and camping stuff must be brought in for this trip. Supplies can be taken on at Millersburg, Rogers City, or Hawks. The river has a depth from 1 foot to 20 feet deep and has an ever changing bottom (sand, mud, solid rock). There is good trout fishing in the river. There is also good bass and pike fishing in places. It is recommended that the trip be taken in the latter part of May or early June to take advantage of high water over the sand bars. This stream is fast. There is one half mile portage at Ocqueoc Falls at Ocqueoc. You can be picked up on US 23 at the mouth of the river or you can paddle down the coast to Rogers City.


South Branch Thunder Bay River:

17 miles (6 hours)

Put in at Hubbard Lake and enjoy a peaceful trip through farm lands and wild country with no portages. There is good trout fishing near the headwaters and good bass, pike, and perch fishing downstream. About midway through the trip there is a campground with water and toilets.

Thunder Bay River:

83 miles (8-12 days)

Put in at Lake Fifteen, south west of Atlanta. The first 15 miles are shallow and quite fast. This is trout water. There is a short portage on the south side of the dam at Atlanta. You’ll want to fish for trout in the faster water, and pike and bass in the slower water. The campsites on the river are mostly on private land. There is another short portage at the dam in Hillman and two more at log jams below Hillman. There is 22 miles of twisting river running through farms, swamps, and timbered country from Hillman to Long Rapids. There are smallmouth bass and pike to fish for here. About a half mile below Long Rapids there are some tricky rapids, and there are some more about five miles further on. The last fifteen miles between Chase Bridge and the mouth is a quality trout area protected by special fly fishing rules. A canoe trip is located just above Smith Bridge. Canoes and supplies are available in Roscommon.

Au Sable River:
180 miles (2-3 weeks)

Canoe traffic is usually heavy immediately below Grayling. To avoid this, you may want to begin your trip at Wakely Bridge. There is canoe rental and pick up service available at Grayling and Wakely Bridge. There are bridges every 10-15 miles downstream where you can take out. The Grayling to Mio trip is 75 miles and should take around 3-5 days. There are several canoe campgrounds available. Below Mio, the water is faster and there are six hydro dams to portage. You should stay along the shore in the large backwaters. Your trip ends in Oscoda. Campgrounds are numerous along this famous trout stream. There are two quality trout areas which come under fly fishing rules. These are an 8.7 mile section from Burton’s Landing down to Wakely Bridge, and a 4.2 mile stretch in the Mio area from the power line down to McKinley Bridge. Much of the shore along the route of the river is privately owned.

The Cut:


This is not long, but gives a cannoer the opportunity of putting in at the upper end of Higgins Lake and coming down the lake where there is quite a bit of summer activity. Beyond this, you go through The Cut into Houghton. This is as interesting a piece of country as anyone would care to seen. You travel through all of the activity at Houghton, stopping to take part now and again. Then you are on to Muskegon then finally Lake Michigan.


Lower Platte River:

6 miles (2-3 hours)

This trip starts at the Highway M-22 bridge. This is family canoeing at its best. The river is placid and the scenery is inspiring. The water is deeper as you pass through the half mile long Loon Lake.


Rifle River:

90 miles (5-6 days)

You may put in at the access site on Sage Lake Road or at the State Forest Campground, five miles north of M-55. There are supplies and canoes available on Highway M-70, north of Sterling, and also at Foresman’s Camp near Alger. There are no dams or portages. The water is approximately 14 to 18 inches deep and is clear and fast. The canoer should be careful for some boulders and occasional rocky bottoms. About eight miles below M-55 there is a patch of rough water that you may wish to either portage or line through. From Foresman’s Camp to Omer, there is a 45 mile stretch through wild country. The banks are generally high and timbered. The river flows south then east to Wigwam Bay in Saginaw Bay. There is good bass fishing below Pinnacle Bridge.


West Branch Muskegon River:

8 miles (1 day)

The suggested put in point is at the bridge on Young Road. This is public land and there is a roadside park there. There is “bad water” along this stretch, but there are numerous beaver dams and log jams to pull over at. The scenery is beautiful. You will paddle through swamp land and hardwoods. There is a take out point where Highway M-55 crosses the river. There is another if you go downstream to the Muskegon River, then down that seven miles to the Kelly Road Bridge.


Betsie River:

44 miles (2-4 days)

The Betsie River rises in Green Lake near Interlochen, then flows through open country. There is a put in point below Thompsonville. The upper river is very wild and scenic with bottom scraping to be expected occasionally. Rainbo trout, pike, and bass are in the stream; pike, bass, and panfish are in the backwaters of Homestead Dam. You should portage around the north side of the dam. There is another portage around the M-22 Bridge. Your trip will end at Betsie Lake between Elberta and Frankfort.


Clam River:

19 miles (2-4 days)

A beautiful canoe trip with very few obstructions. A good place to start the trip is at the dam at Falmouth. There is not much public land along this river. That could pose a problem. There is a public access site at Pierce Road you can take out. It is about ten miles downstream from Falmouth. There is another take out point eight miles further on the Muskegon River at the Church Bridge.


Boardman River:

Grand Traverse County, 40 miles (1-3 days)

The Boardman River is navigable eight months of the year. The river runs through heavy woods with an occasional clearing. The fishing is excellent for bass, pike, and perch in the backwaters of the dam. There is also good fishing for brook, brown, and rainbow trout in the stream.

    Boardman River Access Sites

    The Forks State Forest Campground All Facilities 2 hours
    Sheck’s Place State Forest Campground All Facilities 2 hours
    Brown Bridge Dam State Forest Campground All Facilities 2 hours
    Public Access Site Toilets & cooking only 1.75 hours
    Beitner Bridge (before rapids) Landing Only .25 hour
    Rapids Pick-up Pull Out only
    Power Company Dam Camping Only (no water/toilets)

    All of these sites, with the exception of the Power Company Dam        were used in 1973 as High Adventure Access Areas. Each provided     very useful in the the promotion of this river because of their easy        accessibility.

    Recommended Ins and Outs
Put in at the Forks, 17 miles from Traverse City, over the “Old Supply Road”. In the run from the Forks to Brown Bridge Dam, there are few or no portages. Any portages there are, will be over small log jams that good canoesists can maneuver around. These obstacles make this an interesting river for both novice and advanced canoeists. The pond at Brown Bridge Dam is about two miles long. From here, it is a good run at the Mayfield Bridge, which is an extremely low bridge and must be portaged. There is fast water down through the flats to the Keystone Dam backwater. The only other obstacles are the Power Dams from here to the bay.


The Pine River

Wexford, Lake, and Manistee Counties, 96 miles (1-2 days)

This is one of those streams that will keep you alert all of the time. You may rest often along the way. The water is swift with many sharp turns. This river is not recommended for the novice canoer. There is no camping within 1/4 mile of the river except at Peterson Bridge. On the Pine, you will find high banks of clay or sand, heavily wooded shores, flat acreage of mixed pines and hardwoods. The fishing is good for brook, brown, and rainbow trout. There are no dame on the upper river, however, you will find wing dams which you can get around and you may come to these at a right angle turn. There are occasional log jams along the river. You must pass through No-Bo-Shone property between Skookum and Water’s Bridges. You may pass through but not land on this property.

    Pine River Access Sites
    Hours Miles
    Edgett’s Bridge Meadowbrook Bridge  2, 14
    Skookum Bridge  .75, 5.25
    Walker Bridge  2, 14
    Lincoln Bridge  .75, 5.25
    Elm Flats  .75, 5.25
    Poplar Creek  .5, 3.5
    Dobsen’s Bridge  1, 7
    High School Bridge  .75, 5.25
    Peterson Bridge  1.25, 11
    Stronach Dam  3.25, 23
    Low Bridge  .25, 3.5


Manistee River:

200 miles (2-3 weeks)

There are supplies available at Grayling, M-72 bridge, Smithville, Mesick, and Manistee. You can put in at the County Road 612 crossing or at the M-72 bridge in Crawford County. The river twists through cedar swamps for the first 28 miles with the water one to three feet deep. There is trout fishing all the way to the Hodenpyl backwaters. The 7 1/2 mile section from the Yellowstone Landing to the CCC Bridge is a quality trout area covered by special fly fishing rules. These rules are carried in list #11 obtainable from the Department of Natural Resources. At mile 40, Portage Creek enters the main stream. Another good starting point is at the CCC Bridge where there is a campground. The water continues fast through the backwaters of Hodenpyl Dam. Another good campground is below the M-66 Bridge at Big Bend. Campgrounds are also available at Misaukee Bridge a nd at US37 Bridge. At the M-37 bridge, you may park your canoe and walk to Sherman for supplies. There is a campground near Mesick and then you have eight miles of Hodenpyl backwater with good fishing for pike, bass, and northerners. There is a campground three miles below Hodenpyl and many campgrounds on the way down to Tippy Dam. You will want to take out on the north side of Tippy for a 1/4 mile portage. Downstream from there, the Manistee runs through 90 miles of wild country; this is a two day trip at least. There is fishing for rainbows and in the fall, Coho. Manistee marks the end of the trip. You should take out at the dock area on the north side of Manistee Lake.


Cass River:
50 miles (2-3 days)

Put in at Cass City and go downstream to the Saginaw River. There are quite a few public places to camp but none of which have actually developed as campgrounds. This trip takes you through state game areas with many opportunities to see wildlife and enjoy excellent scenery. There are dams that must be portaged at Caro and Frankenmouth.


Tittabawassee River:

30 miles (1-2 days)

This is easy canoeing with only short portages around Secord and Smallwood Dams. The trip is though wild, scenic country. You should put in on the upper reaches of either the Main Stream or the East Branch about 15 miles northwest of Gladwin. There is fishing for bass, pike, and panfish in quiet waters. There are several campgrounds along the rivers. You can get supplies in Gladwin and Beaverton. The take out is at Wixom Lake or Edenville Dam.


Chippewa River:

75 miles (3-5 days)

The north, south, and the main branches of the Chippewa rise in northeastern Mecosta County. Canoeing is possible on all three of these branches. For the north branch the suggested put in is where the river crosses Evergreen Road, just south of the Osceola-Mecosta County Line. For the south branch, the suggested put in is at the Matiny Wildlife Flooding Project, which is east of Big Rapids. Lastly, the main stream, put in at the dam at Barryton or at any of the several bridges downstream.


Little Manistee River:
60 miles (1-2 days)

This river’s depth is on to three feet with a sand and clay bottom. Like other west Michigan streams it is a great wanderer. You will go through hilly, wooded country. There are a few swamps with little habitation. This is definitely trout water all the way down with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. There are campsites all the way down the river. It is suggested that you put in at the Indian Bridge north of Peacock in the summer when the waters are low, but at M-37 when the waters are high. You can take out at Peacock, Baldwin, or travel onward.


White River:
60 miles (2 days)

South of Hesperia, where you can pick up supplies, the river carries a rocky bottom, then turns to swamp land further on. The campsites are adequate but not plentiful down this river. You will need to portage some windfalls and you will need to watch for hairpin turns. In quiet waters, you may fish for trout, bass, and panfish. The trip ends at White Lake at the old US 31 bridge. There are canoes available eight miles east of Montague on Fruitville Road.
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