Au Sable canoe trip questions

I have the first week of June off this year and want to leave the wife and kids behind and get out into the wilderness a little. I was looking at the Au Sable and was wondering about a few things. First was the flies and such. I enjoy eating much more than being eaten and was wondering if the first week of June is a good time to head that way. I live in NW Ohio and don’t mind a long drive I feel comfortable up to class 2 rapids and don’t mind a portage but really want to be away from civilization. Is there a stretch of this river that is a river less traveled? I want to do something like a 4 day trip but have the whole week and am flexible more or less. Any other suggestions for a place to go would be great. Thanks

Once you get away from Grayling a bit, there’s not too much traffic on the main branch till you hit Mio where traffic picks up a bit til McKinley. There are no rapids on the entire system.

Another option is the S Branch out of Roscommon, some traffic early on but nice wilderness stretches.

Bugs aren’t bad in early June either.

Also, with a good steady paddle you could do the entire river to Oscoda. In my opinion the nicest section being between Alcona and Loud damns, make sure to get that far.

Lastly portages are all short, up and over hydro-electric damns at the little yellow canoes shaped “portage” signs. Have fun and email if you’d like!

Bugs in June
They may not usually be bad in early June, but this year they got a head start, and if you’re up there within another warm spell, the blackflies could be epic. I know someone who has been up in the second week of June who refuses to go back to the ADK’s, the bugs were so bad.

Your mileage may vary, of course.



I second the suggestion for the south branch out of Roscommon as a starting point. After that the busiest section might be from Mio dam to Comins flats, or maybe as far as McKinley. Try to do that stretch on a week day rather than on the week end.

In regards to bugs…the AuSable won’t have the swarms of biting flies like the UP or Canada. It just doesn’t get that bad, other than gnats and mosquitoes.

There are a lot of really nice places to camp along the way, especially on some of the ponds, many are only accessible by canoe.

Have fun!


Another suggestion
You might also consider the Manistee. Both rivers have headwaters north of Grayling and flow southwards. The Ausable then turns east, the Manistee west.