Looking for help planning a trip in Mich

Looking for general advice as well as specific advise and suggested places for planning a kayak/canoe camping trip for next spring/summer in Michigan.

Probably a group of three to four, most likely one canoe and two to three kayaks. No one of outstanding skill level, but all intermediate.

Looking for a nice sedate river trip in the 15-25 mile range, ideally a put in, go down river to a camp site, next day go farther down river to the take out type trip.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Ideas on places? I have done a ton of camping, a large amount of backpacking, and a good bit of canoe and kayaking, but never a paddle camping trip.

I was thinking of doing the White River where it goes through the Manistee National forest so we can camp wherever, but if anyone has suggestions I am TOTALLY open to them

Thanks in advance

Have a look at this guide.
Canoeing Michigan Rivers


It will tell you everything you need.

Rifle River and
The Rifle River on the East side of the Lower P. is another suggestion. Many years ago my dad’s wife’s daughter and I went on a trip there. It was peaceful and lovely. There was a campground.

That is by Omer near Standish.

The Au Sable near Oscoda is gorgeous and peaceful, also very wide. There are state campgrounds along it. You should find out when they are going to release water from the damns and prepare for the chunk of water coming down at you.

My church youth group went on the White and the Muskegon, but those trips were 40 years ago. So were the trips on the Pine near Baldwin - but I wouldn’t call that river “tame”.

Are you looking for additonal participants? If so let me know. Thanks

the pine river
suggest “thepineriver.com” you can camp overnite and do it in 2 days. The above url will give u info. Probably not an “easy” skill level, but will give you scenery and pace that may warrant a will to paddle it.

have fun,


More ~ book & boat
Be sure to go for the Second printing of the revised edition, March 2005. First revised printing was 2001, already outdated. Half.com usually beats Amazon prices.

The earlier you go in the season, the less likely all the winter downfall (strainers) will be dealt with by our DNR.

BTW, Eric Sharp, the outdoor writer for the Detroit Free Press, said this about kayaking Michigan rivers in an August article featuring the Manistee River:

“While some northern Michigan rivers are big enough for sea kayaks and the long canoes offered by liveries, many of the smaller streams are tight and twisting enough that inexperienced paddlers would have a hard time handling bigger boats in them.”

“For these streams, canoes 14 feet or less, and kayaks in the 12-14 foot range are ideal, especially if they have a bit of rocker in the bottom that allows them to turn faster than flat-bottomed crafts.”

Something to consider if you’re bringing your own boats.

I like the Pine (although it can be very crowded on peak weekends) the AuSable, the Pigeon, among many. The Manistee is also far less paddled, goes thru beautiful forests, and has three campgrounds along the way. I’ll probably go there first next year. Maybe I’ll see ya!

2nd the Pine
very easy paddle, very scenic, and most importantly, very public. Camping opportunities are present. Look up Horina’s in Cadillac and talk to Jim for more information.


Is also a great book for Michigan Paddlers.

The Muskegon may be a good trip.

Pine River/Permit required
If paddling the Pine River (Wexford County/MI) a permit is required from May (date ?) to Sept. 10. There is no cost if you pick up your permit at one of the DNR, US Forest Service offices (Baldwin/phone # not known or Manistee 231-723-2211) branches, but a small fee if reserving by phone. This is a FUN, fairly fast river.

IMO-Recommend: Intermediate-Advanced skills. You will sleep well after a trip on this water. We primarily run Dobson to Low Bridge and occasionally put in above Dobson.

We also run the Manistee, mostly between Hodenpyle Dam to Red Bridge and below Tippy Dam to High Bridge or Bear Creek. Due to the water depth, you could use fiberglass boats. It is a beautiful area with dispersed camping and hiking trails along the way.

Brochures are available from the US Forest Service. Check the web for possible information.

Whatever your choice, have a great time and as we all should, leave it cleaner than you found it.


pine river
I would do either the pine river or the pere marquete (sp) river from baldwin. Don’t recomend the Muskegon during the summer. very busy with tubers after memorial day.

Probably not for this one, but others
Probably not looking for other takers on this one, as its going to be my first in a rec kayak, and a friend or two and my father in his canoe. Very possible for the next though

Manistee sounds likely
Just a little while ago, myself the wife and a friend backpacked the MRT (Manistee river trail) and had a good time. Lovely country out there. I think its high in the running, just need to check that book.

I would like something farther south though, makes the road trip part of the trip shorter… ah well

Strong ensorsement for Manistee

– Last Updated: Oct-09-06 9:59 PM EST –

The jewel of the Manistee is the section from Hodenpyle Dam all the way to the tippy dam.

This entire section is studded with designated campsites, including two on an island. The area is varied and beautiful with alternating low and high banks.

The section from Hodenpyle Dam to Red Bridge has some sections of beautiful, clear, faster water. You can easily traverse this section in about 4 hours.

Once you reach Red Bridge, it transitions to the flat backwaters of the Tippy dam. These backwaters, studded with islands, meander through some beautiful terrain, with both low and high banks. Reminds me of small mountians. Lots of areas to explore. Simply gorgeous. Since this section is flat water, you can paddle and explore all day, and return to Red Bridge if you want, or continue on as described in the above post.

I have paddled 95 of these miles, but have returned several times just to paddle and camp the above sections.

Regarding other alternatives, the two books referenced above, Paddling Michigan and Canoeing Michigan are great sources of ideas. I own both and found them very valuable in planning trips.

FYI-Pere Marquette
During the heavy use season, the Pere Marquette, which has a lot of twist and turns, also requires a daily pass for each boat. As with the Pine River passes, these are also available at the Baldwin or Manistee US Forest Service offices.

Both are great bodies of water to paddle, but busy on weekends.

Have a great time on our Michigan waters.