I’M planning a one night trip on the Manistee river in Michigan with two parents and their ten year old boys. I’m looking for any suggestions on planning.I would like to be able to camp along the banks of the river on state land if possable.Looking to go early May.
Pick up a copy of “Canoeing Michigan Rivers” it is a great resource for Michigan paddlers. It has been updated and will answer most of your questions. I’ve done the Manistee this winter from the Old US131 Campground to where the Pine River joins the Manistee. Plenty of camping all along there.
Been There, Done That
The Manistee is a wonderful river to paddle. Last summer I did 95 miles in 4 days and loved every minute of it.
By far, the most beautiful section that I've seen starts at the Hodenpyl Dam and continues to the Tippy dam.
There are MANY designated camping spots along this section of river. Each has a fire ring, but BYOT [bring your own toilet, or shovel]. You must camp at a designated spot.
Entry at the Hodenpyl Dam is down a looong set of wooden stairs, although I was able to lead my kayak/cart down the gravel path along side. The water here is unbelievably clear! Just beautiful! At the beginning, there is some tricky water that could upset you. I am a flatwater kayaker and this is a close to a rapids as I have ever paddled. This all depends on how high the river is.
After a mile or so, the river is more relaxing, and there are numerous campsites. You REALLY need the map to find them, though. I picked up a map listing campsites at the RED BRIDGE. I believe it was from the Forest Service, but I don't remember now.
Red Bridge is about 3-4 hours from Hodenpyl Dam. If you want a shorter trip, you could start your trip here instead. There is ample parking, and a boat launch. This is the beginning of the backwaters of the Tippy Dam, and about the end of running water. You have to paddle, but the scenerey here is breathtaking! There are multiple islands and the land is very hilly. It's like being in the mountains. Some of the campsites can be reached by car, while others only by water. There are even two secluded campsites on one of the islands! As you paddle, the backwaters spread out wider and wider.
You can take out at the Tippy Dam, or backtrack to Red Bridge if that's where you started.
I love the section from Red Bridge to Tippy Dam so much, that I've made weekend trips from Detroit just to camp out some weekends! Hope you find it as enjoyable!
We did a 3 day trip
on the reach above old US 31. Put in at a canoe outfitter and he stored out cars in his lot. (no charge!)
Camping was primitive at the side of the river. Not in established campgrounds. Late one night a groupof deer came through our campand swam across the river. Their grunts and snorts woke us up. The paddle seems remote, nice scenery. No major rapids that I remember.
The second day I had lunch at the head of a small island. As I was leaving a fawn jumped up not 10 ft from me and headed into the brush. Earlier paddlers said they had seen the Doe and her rfawn as they passed the same island.
question on the Manistee
In many places we saw rip rap on the high banks. How did this rock get there? We saw no roads, not to say there aren't any. In some places this rock went up 75 feet or so.
Its a fun river
fairly calm with some eddys. We have paddled from m-38 to Red Br. , also have gone from Cameron BR. to Red Br. Plan on exploring more this summer.
What is the
river like downstream from Tippy Dam and out toward the lake?