Pere Marquette tips?

Thinking of doing a 3-day canoe paddle down the Pere Marquette from Baldwin with my brother. Plan to rent in Baldwin rather than haul our canoe out there with two cars for shuttling. Would appreciate hearing from someone who has been there - lessons learned and recommendations.
Specifically wondering about…

  • Is the lower river between Custer Rd and US 31 near Ludington worthwhile?
  • Campsite availability may be in issue. How crowded is it in early October? Are steelhead still running?
  • We will probably start at noon near Baldwin and camp at Gleason’s Landing and Logmark for a Custer Rd takeout. Would something else work better?
  • The lower river between Custer and Scottville is not part of the “wild and scenic” designation, but sightings of eagles other wildlife are common.
  • It depends upon your selected stops, but yes, the Chinook salmon and the coho and brown trout that follow them are still running. However, these runs are not the most sought-after runs like the September Chinook (king salmon) run. Steelhead tend to come in around December and leave at the end of April.
  • Lower branch bridge would be a good takeout point. Do not attempt the area between Walhalla and Custer late in the day. The river is quite braided and marshy there. Still scenic, but can be confusing.

FYI, you won’t find it on the map, but the area above the “Indian Bridge”/Reek Road access site is called Neelan’s Marsh locally. That’s the braided area to which I was referring. Liveries in Baldwin would probably be better if you’re stopping in Walhalla, but River Run in Scottville may be willing to take you up to Baldwin and drop you for a Scottville/Ludington take-out.

Now reading again, I see you said “early” October. You could hit the crowds for the tail of the Chinook run then.

Thanks for the advice, and especially for the warning about Neelan’s Marsh. Following it on Google Earth it appears that we’ll eventually get thru if, in that “maze of twisty little passages, all different”, we stick to the wider channel. We’ll be driving from Ann Arbor so Baldwin makes the most sense for us.

One of the things that I’ve noticed on the PM is that the fisherfolk there are not used to competent canoeists and will get into your way when you are trying to keep out of their cast. Communication doesn’t always help.


I noticed something kind of similar but different a couple weeks ago. They didn’t think I could fit behind them so they reeled up and waved me through on the side they were casting. However, they were also early and they knew it. Most of the salmon guys will be fishing holes, especially as low and clear as it will be unless we get significant rain very quickly.