Boardman River Michigan

I would like to get some information on the river. I know that most of it can be paddled. I will be paddling a 17’ kayak. I think there are three dams on the river. I am somewhat familiar with the area. I would like to start at Ranch Rudolph and paddle to the bay. I plan on doing the paddle in July. I have more paddles planned in the same area in July. I would like to try this river while I’m there.

How many miles is it?

Can it still be done?

How are the portages?

What are the water levels?

How wide/narrow should I expect?

How much of it can be paddled? (more or less than what I plan)


Don’t know about the entire stretch

– Last Updated: Mar-07-09 8:21 PM EST –

But I have paddled the short stretch of whitewater (class II) and I would never take a 17' boat through that. There is more maneuvering then a normal paddler can do in a long boat.

Here is the section:

From Canoeing Michigan Riv ers
I’m not entirely sure how uptodate this is, conditions change. I think this is the 2005 ed.

Dams divide into 3 sections, lower section slow and backwaters before mouth of Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse city…middle section fastest…Beitner rapids will challenge inexperienced paddlers…

Access points

  1. Supply Rd, or Forks Forest Campground
  2. midway through upper section is Scheck’s Place Forest Campground - JUST UPSTREAM IS RANCH RUDOLPH

    Scheck is last easy acces before Brown Bridge pond, 1 to 2 hours down stream…much of the final milr or so of river before the pond is slow and relative wide - goes on…


    Supply rd. bridge to Brown Bridge dam - 7 miles 3-4 hours

    Boardman Bridge Dam to Boardman Dam 12.5 miles/4 to 5.5 hours

    Boardman Dam to the Mouth 6 miles/2-4 hours

paddled supply road
to BB dam, small and curvy, some current, lots of fly fishing (students) near RR, nice trip anyway, the pond was shallow, watch for mud flats. Took out at BB and went and drove to play at the Bietner rapids, looked like the river from BB dam to the rapids was bigger and straight along the road. shuttled bikes back and forth around the rapids. when we were scouting we helped some guys unpin via lines, an aluminum canoe from a big bolder in the middle of the Bietner rapids, it was bent sideways in a bad way, paddlers were okay, boat was trashed, we were in 16’ rec boats, and ya it’s a challenge, might want to scout it, there is a foot path up on high; and pick your line befor you think about running it - it can be big. Always wanted to paddle from there thru TC into the bay.


Thanks all!
I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure there are lots of places to paddle around there. I just got a bunch of info on the UP in the mail last night. I’m drooling on it now!

B oardman
It’s near where I grew up. My brother races marathon boats and he and some other racers train on it. There’s a race every July during the Cherry Festival on the Boardman–my brother is the Race Director.

I’m sure you can do it in a 17’ kayak if your skills are up to it, but it’s really a more suitable river for canoes and shorter boats.

Beitner is a real rapids–at least for Michigan where there isn’t a lot of whitewater. I’ve only paddled on one of the ponds to try out my brother’s pro boat. I was wobbly, but I didn’t get wet.

Thanks for all the information.
A few more things… The rapids at Beitner road, are they up or down river from the bridge?

How far would the portage around them be?

How are the portages around the dams?

What are the longest sections that I could paddle?

One of the other paddles I want to do is from Alden to Elk Rapids. How’s that area?