What's Worth a Day's Trip From Detroit

I am already thinking about vacation time next year. I very much enjoyed paddling the Ausable and Manistee Rivers, including the Ponds and backwaters, but was wondering if there were “special” river destinations worth a day’s drive to nearby states? I easily drive 500 miles in a day. I own my own Rec kayak, so sea kayaking destinations are out.

Here’s what appeals to me:

3 to 6 day trip (6-10 hours daily OK)

Class I rivers, riffles ok but no rapids

Crossing Ponds (Lakes)OK if scenic (6-8 miles max)

Plentiful camping areas (designated OK)

Wilderness (fewer cottages, the better)

Varied scenery


Few, easy portages (I have a small cart)

Shuttle service available

Is there anything out there that I’ll enjoy more than the Manistee River? Let me know.

try the
Pigeon River up near Vanderbilt. Senic , no houses. Goes thru Pigeon River Forest. Lots of camp sites. Will take ya about 2 leasurely days of paddling to get to Indian River. This river is smaller and more backwoods difficult to get thru. Some short portaging around deadfalls and such.

Pigeon River… Pics here too…
I agree with Northman, the Pigeon is great. I wouldn’t take anything over 12-14 ft though, gets tight in some spots & the America & the Pungo had a time manuvuering.

Here is a link to our trip on the Pigeon:


Alot of “state land” to camp on as well as 2 parks along the river.

Paddle easy,


Algonquin Provincial Park
in Ontario

Apostle Islands

Not the Apostle Islands
They are definitely a sea kayaking destination. It would be dangerous to boat the Apostles in a rec. boat.

Pinery Provincial Park
About 3 hours from Detroit, on the shores of Lake Huron! It’s a must to see sometime! They have about 1000 campsites.You can paddle Lake Huron, the old Ausable channel or the Ausable River just outside the park. Kayaks and canoes are available for rental.You can camp in the Dunes area,Burley or Riverside which is more woodsey.It’s one of my favourite camping places to go! There is also group camping if any P.netters want to do that one sometime…

We were there last month…
never paddled because we were too busy taking the short hikes. The lower sections of the river looked more natural. The old Ausable channel was so uniform, it looked dredged.

It was closed off at the opening
so that’s why the water looks stagnant-hey at least it’s water-don’t knock it!The Pinery is still an awesome place!

rondeau bay is nice,
rondeau bay is approx 6 miles by 2 miles, with lots of fishing and marshland , my son and i paddle there all the time, it is about 2 hrs from detroit on lake erie

Several Ideas
1. Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

Drive north to the soo. Take the Algoma Central Railway to the Sand River headwaters in Lake Superior Provincial Park. The Sand River is a multi-day river canoe/camp trip through some incredble landscape.

In fact, in that same park, you could go to Lake Mijinmunsing (sp?) and do the chain of lakes canoe/kayak camping thing there too. Lots of wildlife, easy paddling (if you stay off Lake Superior) and plenty of camping options that are well marked.

2. Pigeon River, Michigan

Whoever suggested the Pigeon River is spot on. Great destination, much much closer than Lake Superior Provincial Park (less visually stunning too, however).

3. Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

There is a western park entrance (pass pickup only, call ahead for reservation) that is within the drive distance you suggested. If you drive from detroit, up I-94 through Port Huron, up teh Huron Coast (past the Pinery Prov. Park) up to Tobermory (tip of the peninsula), take the ferry to Manitoulin Island. Then drive up Rte 6 (i think) and you’ll get there eventually (after you pass the town of Little Current, but before Espanola I think). Incredible scenery, great area for chain-of-lakes canoe/kayak vacationing. The coastal areas around there are incredble too.

Paddle Erie Metro Park and Grosse Ile
I’ve done both in my sea kayak and in my inflatable innova solar II. On a week night, the Detroit River is calm enough for a rec yak. Erie Metro park and the other metro parks along the Huron River offer a nice and long run.

also lots of
wildlife in the Pigeon. When we paddled it woke up to geese,ducks, various birds and elk making noise. Saw a osprey, muskrats and beaver.