Michigan - Upper Peninsula/Mackinaw

Anyone know the UP area well, especially the Eastern side? I plan to visit my wife’s family in Michigan next August, and would like to do some paddling in the UP.

My wife and kids have already been to Mackinaw for a trip last year (I was “left” at home - due to a lack of vacation days at work…no worries, I hit the Big Piney here in Missouri for a nice float-fishing weekend trip with an old college buddy). Anyway, I’d like to hear suggestions on paddling destinations within a couple hours of Mackinaw. We will have already been on the road for a few days, so as much as I would like to hit the western part of the UP, we probably won’t drive that far.

I would also love to hear of any rental cabins/lodges in this area. Oh, and if I decide not to haul the yaks up to MI, any advice on area canoe/yak rentals would be most appreciated.

And if anyone needs info on our beautiful Ozark rivers, just let me know. I’ve paddled most of them…

Happy paddling,


St. Louis, MO

Drummond Island

is nice and I believe there are plenty of rental cabins and lodges there. Paddling out into Potagannissing will allow you to explore many islands including Harbor Island, which is state land. The ferry to Drummond is about a one hour drive from the Mac bridge. Between the bridge and Drummond lie the Le Cheneaux Islands, another popular paddling destination, but I can’t comment as I haven’t paddled there.

Munising is a two hour drive from the bridge if you’d like to paddle the Pictured Rocks area in Lake Superior. Gorgeous area, but keep in mind this can be very challenging paddling and the water is cold.

Thanks, sharonmb
Thanks for the info! I am going to research Drummond…and only 2 hours to Pictured Rocks…hmmm…that is striking distance!

Take care,


Manistee National Forest (NW MI rivers)
Ok, me again. I was asking about the UP area, but wow, you Michigan folks have beautiful rivers everywhere…including the Manistee National Forest area (ex. Pine River). I mention Traverse because my mother-in-law has a conference at the Grand Traverse Resort. Family fun while she’s at work. After the conference is when we drive up to Mackinaw to continue the vacation.

During the conference, I’m thinking I could get away for a day trip…and hit one of the rivers in the Manistee National Forest area. Looks like the Pine River is only about an hour away from Traverse…and it looks gorgeous!

Any advice/info on these rivers? Pine, Pere Marquette, any others not far from Traverse City? Bear with me…I’ve never been north of Grand Rapids - and that was on a sales call for work.



St. Louis, MO

Check out Tahquamenon Falls
State Park. Nice river paddle and I think you have access to a protected part of Lake Superior behind Whitefish Point. I camped there and did the river trip on one of my trips to the Great Lakes.

Picture Rocks is spectactular if you can make it over there.


St. Helena Island
St. Helena island is a nice paddling destination. Just a few minutes west of St. Ignace off of U.S. 2 there is a campground where we camped last August. It has Lake Michigan access and we put in right there. There are quite a few mom & pop motels along that section of U.S. 2 as well. We contacted the Innkeeper for the St. Helena lighthouse in advance, and were given a very nice tour. Here are links for the two:



Les Cheneaux Islands
The islands are very close to Mackinac and Hessell in the U.P. has the coolest paddle shop run by the coolest lady! Jesse, she’ll take care of ya no matter what you need!

Hunt’s Guide
Hunts Guide is a great resource for information about different parts of the UP. There is the online version but the map (commercial free) is also a handy resource.


Lots of great kayaking near Marquette and Munising, MI.

Pictured Rocks is wonderful. Outfitters in both towns are just fine folks.

Drummond info
Call my friends at the Wa-Wen resort. Yes to lodging, and yes to kayaks. Rec, but still a kayak. over 30 islands to paddle and explore. They are great at the resort and very laid back. Give them a call and tell them kayak Steve sent you.

I work for Eddyline kayaks and stayed there over the summer. (906)493-5445. Keep in ;mind they rent rec boats and the islands will require a little more kayak than that. I may be able to help you with that. Stay in touch and good luck.


Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes

area is awesome, close to Traverse if you want to paddle on the big lakes. Manistee River is not far from TC if you want some excellent river paddling.

You’re coming to Michigan, did you expect anything less? :slight_smile:

big two hearted
to be that close and not do this river would be a crime. the river is basically split into 2 halves. the upper is 12 to 13 miles with log jams every mile or so. totally wild and undisturbed. the lower half is also 12-13 miles but they clean out the log jams for a more family friendly experience. it’s still wilderness but no tricky rapids to worry about. just total peace and solitude. the folks at rainbow lodge (at the mouth of the two hearted) can provide rentals or spotting services, what ever you need. the campground at the mouth, on lake superior, is primitive but one of the most beautiful spots in the state. other nice floats would include the fox/manistique rivers near germfask and indian river west of stueben. the falls at taguamanan are almost a given. make sure you stop at the brew pub and pick up a growler of blond beaver. i haven’t paddeled the taguamanan but i’ve heard that the fox and manistique are better choices. even if you’re not into big water paddeling, you have to go to the pictured rocks area east of munising. if you have time to hike the cliffs, do at least a days worth. even though the boat tours can be a little cheesey, the view of the cliffs is incredible. i can’t believe i lived in this state for 50 years without ever knowing how cool that place really is. other local attractions include macknac island, the soo locks, the big spring at kitch-iti-kipee and the restored fort at michilimac. make sur to get some fresh smoked fish and eat a pastie or two. or you could poke at the fire and drink beer for a week, like i do.

Yep thats what I was going to say
Go talk to Jess she will fix you up and you can rent / buy gear from her if needed and she knows it all for that area. enjoy

We did Pict Rocks this summer
and paddled under the Mackinac bridge on the way home. Both are great with potential for big water so be prepared. Email if you want more info.

Also I’m the VP of the StLouis Canoe and Kayak Club,contact me if your intersted in local trips we schedule about 30 a year everything from the Meramec at Castlewood to the Miss. at night.



Grand Island
I’d give another vote to Munising, which is the stepping off point for Pictured Rocks and Grand Island. The bay on the south side of Grand is protected from nasty weather and this past August the water was warm enough to practice the ‘wet stuff’ just wearing shorts.

During the week Grand Island seems to get very little paddling or camping activity and the camp sites are fantastic. There are bear-proof storage boxes, picnic tables, & more. Also Grand Island makes a nice departure point for exploring the cliffs to the east (but watch the weather).

And when you are done, there’s just one pizza place in Munising and it totally rocks… one of the best pizzas that I’ve ever had.

And Eddyline Steve, if you are reading this, I had a great time with my Fathom LV.

Pictured Rocks x 3
Paddlers considering visiting the Pictured Rocks may enjoy my travelogue and photos from that beautiful kayaking destination:


As elsewhere on Lake Superior, you’ll need to plan your trip and use good judgment regarding weather, etc…

Here are some additional details:


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers drive-in camping at Little Beaver Lake, Twelvemile Beach, and Hurricane River Campgrounds. Campsites provide a picnic table, fire grate, and tent pad. Solar-powered wells provide water. Vault toilets are available. Camping is on a first-come, first-serve basis (no reservations) with an overnight fee of $14 with lakeside sites at Twelvemile Beach Campground $16/night.

There are also several motels and lodges in nearby Munising, MI.


Backcountry Camping: All backpackers and kayakers camping overnight in the lakeshore must obtain a backcountry permit. A user fee of $5 per person, per night is paid when you obtain your permit. Backcountry reservations are possible, but must be made at least 14 days in advance. The reservation fee is $15. Cash, check, Visa, and MasterCard cards are accepted.

Drive-In Camping: Campers staying at one of the Lakeshore’s three drive-in campgrounds will pay $14 per night. Lakeside sites at Twelvemile Beach Campground are $16 per night. Sorry, no reservations.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, between the communities of Munising (west) and Grand Marais (east).

Michigan state highways M-28 and M-94 lead to Munising.

State highway M-77 leads to Grand Marais.

Alger County Road H-58 and other spur roads (some unpaved) provide access throughout the lakeshore.

Good Luck!