Torch Lake, MI

My family has an invitation to stay with friends at a house on Torch Lake, MI this summer. Are there any rivers in that area that actually run during the summer, or will they all be wet rocks? I’m trying to decide if it’s worth bringing WW boats, or if we should just stick to flatwater craft.

Also, would it make more sense to bring road bikes or mountain bikes? We don’t have room for both, so it’s one or the other.

I’ve been doing some Googling, of course, but local experience is always better. Any input would be much appreciated.

so much beautiful flat water.
The chain of lakes are connected by scenic rivers and the water is fantastically beautiful. Plus you will oonly be about 15 mins from Lake Michigan.

I would take road bikes. There are a lot of lightly traveled hwys to get some good rides in.

Make sure you get to Short’s brewery in Bellaire for lunch or dinner.

Beautiful area
Torch Lake is a gorgeous lake - it’s Michigan’s longest and second largest inland lake.

The only WW river I’m personally familiar with (as an onlooker) is the Bear in Petoskey, which gets pretty crazy once the ice starts melting and the spring runoff starts.

I’ve heard there is some whitewater on the Boardman. Am unsure if the collapse of the Brown Bridge Dam in 2012 had any effect on the WW sections.

As to biking, they’re bike path crazy up here. A few:

You can also mountain bike for 29 miles from Kalkaska to Traverse City. Course description:

Lake Michigan always beckons.

Just be sure to include warm clothing when you pack. The Great Lakes are about 86% ice covered and we have subzero temps forecast through the end of the week, so the percentage will probably increase. We could be in for another quite cool summer.

yes and no

– Last Updated: Feb-26-15 2:10 PM EST –

Midsummer can mean bony streams in N MI. There are a few places along the Boardman near Traverse City

where you might find some small holes and waves. That stretch is probably the best option.

Then there's the park up in Petoskey, on the Bear River:

In either case you will be completely dependent on a good rain but from what I've heard that a heavy rain really brings the Bear River alive. It can rain really hard in between dry spells.

There's lots of swiftwater such as the Platte Rivers west of Traverse City, and it's beautiful there.

Then there's Piers Gorge but that's in the middle of the U.P.:

Hopefully someday soon, Traverse City will feature a downtown play park.

Play park?
Not sure if TC will do anything in that regard given the disastrous Clinch Park splash pad that rained raw sewage on the kids. Reportedly will take close to $384,000 to fix. Not very palatable to a city with a 1.7 million dollar budget deficit.

one bad example doesn’t ruin the barrel

– Last Updated: Feb-26-15 4:13 PM EST –

I have friends in Traverse City. The splash pad sounds like a disaster but there are plenty of successful splash pads across the country, so it's certainly do-able.

Union Street dam in downtown Traverse City has to be replaced. You probably know the rest of the dams are proposed to come out (Brown is out already), but Union has to be put back in some form for sea lamprey control. Union also has a fish ladder. The dams are coming out to improve fish habitat. One of the biggest river restoration projects in the country.

If left to the Army Corps, Traverse City will get a concrete utilitarian monstrosity smack in the middle of their downtown and river. So they're studying replacing the dam with a whitewater park, fish passage devices or ladders and improving the park space along the river. So underutilized currently.

The Boardman region has resisted whitewater improvements in the outlying watershed and for good reason, but this is already an urban setting. Traverse City is pretty good at recognizing opportunity.

These play parks generate a lot of money for the cities they're in (google images of the Reno whitewater play park course) and also get people more tuned in to the river environment.

AuSable and Manistee are great
Ausable and Manistee are great

Cost, not concept
Didn’t mean to infer the splash pad was a bad idea. Splash pads are great fun. The sewage issue was ultimately fixed, but the needed repairs will be expensive. Taxpayers don’t like bungled public projects.

I think Union St. Dam is being modified, not replaced. Would be great if they could add a whitewater park feature.

Even absent whitewater, the OP and family will have miles and miles of beautiful water to paddle and explore.

Check American Whitewater
for information on the Boardman. Michigan rivers tend to be paddle-able through the summer although the play value may not be real high. I’ve paddled Beitner rapids in mid-summer and in early April. I had no problem getting through in July although it was a bit picky. The early April run was a hoot although I didn’t play any. I was paddling a 17’ 9" Sawyer Cruiser with a six year old paddling bow.It seemed to be pushing low class II at that time. From torch Lake you are very close to the Jordan. It’s quick, cold, and beautiful. There is a bit of a play feature at State Road. The usual put-in is at Graves Crossing just off of M-66. If you have your fat tire bikes you should really ride the roads through the Jordan Valley.

All-in-all the long boats would probably get more use in Northern Michigan in summer. You really do want to paddle some of the rivers in the area as well as the lakes. For most people, long boats are fine.

For the bikes though, it’s toss-up. You can find good riding with either the skinny tires of the fiat tires.


no doubt
Obviously they have to realize the capital to do anything. Hopefully the city and consultant they hired are adept enough at finding funding sources (grants and private donors), and making clear the economic and other benefits.

Thank you for all the leads. Sounds like a really neat part of the country.

bring the mountain bikes

– Last Updated: Feb-27-15 1:41 PM EST –

You can hit the VASA trails in Traverse City:

That area of the State, Traverse City and outlying area, is big on outdoor recreation more than any other part of the state (except perhaps Marquette).

summertime and

tent worms ?

We have two peninsulas

– Last Updated: Feb-27-15 4:28 PM EST –

Black flies are a problem in the U.P. Not so much in the lower, where Torch Lake is located.

Tent caterpillars are just that: they build tents in bushes and trees and don't leave their tents. Crazy people set fire to the tents when all they need is a spray bottle filled with water mixed with Dawn liquid detergent to dispatch the caterpillars.

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar, Forest Tent Caterpillar, and Gypsy Moth Caterpillar are the defoiliators. They're cyclical and climbers. A mix of Dawn liquid detergent and water is very effective against them (I know from experience, having killed a gabillion Forest Tent worms during an outbreak years ago). In bad years, lake associations and communities arrange for aerial sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when the leaves are just emerging. Very effective.

I'm a walking buffet for biting insects and have found Cutter's Natural Insect Repellent works well. No Deet and it smells nice.

some help for you, datakoll

we all know black fly as we all know ticks…and there’s anew one out of Kansas prob from Chinese BioLabs (CBL)

So what do I know beyond serving up the relevant hyperlinks ?

Search: black fly Torch Lake…


black fly Michigan

black fly torch lake

a priori humor, no ?

beyond humor insects are often ‘overlooked’ - which is our ‘forte’ here - often derailing. Here in sunny Fla. when asked ‘where do we go’ if they’re going south, I go thru the bug counseling talk…roll thick socks over pants…buy headnet…how to use deet …do not spray deet on your child’s skin who will be wearing sunglasses off course…

mandatory humor.

reason I write back is the curiosity of reading strenuous objections to insect facts as during the recent slugfest on ticks in the NE where a posse showed up claiming there are no ticks in the NE.

now about the brown recluse spiders in Cleveland…

and WD-40 is best.

blackflies aren’t a problem there
I don’t need to google it, I’ve been there.

not a problem bro
Mosquitoes? Yes.

Absolutely not
Soap and water is 100% effective. No need to add anything else.