10 of the Best Rivers in Michigan for Canoeing

August 7, 2015

Best Rivers for Canoeing in MichiganIf you’re looking for a river to paddle, we’ve got one here in Michigan. Here are 10 of our best.

1. The Pine River flows through a valley in the Manistee National Forest. Spring water, wildlife and beautiful forests make paddling the Pine an incredible experience. With rapids in some sections and calm waters in other, anyone of any skill level can enjoy this river. Entry points and campgrounds are scattered along the banks which means you can take a day trip or spend several days moving down the river.

2. The Big Manistee River is included in the National Wild and Scenic River system because of its long stretches of undeveloped, forested banks and its clear, clean water. This easygoing, predictable river is a favorite choice for groups of young paddlers, like the Boy Scouts. The river also offers abundant fishing, a sandy bottom for swimming and incredible views of the valley.

3. The Huron River winds its way past Ann Arbor, Detroit and many small towns, yet still feels wild because of the public land that lines much of its banks. A large system of parks along the river make it easily accessible at many points. A moderate current and few hazards make it a safe trip. Camping and picnic areas are scattered along its route as well.

4. The Platte River flows through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northern Michigan and ends at Lake Michigan. The Lower Platte features easy turns and a gentle current. For a more exciting trip, enter at the Upper Platte where the current is swifter, turns are tighter and under water obstacles and low hanging branches are a challenge.

5. The Au Sable is one of Michigan’s most well-known sports rivers for its clear water and good trout fishing. Launch sites, campgrounds and forests line its beaches. Paddlers and anglers alike love the Au Sable.

6.The Jordan River flows through the pristine wilderness of the Jordan Valley. The clear, cold river is one of the best trout fishing streams in the state of Michigan. There are many places to stop and picnic along the way. The moderate current makes it safe for most skill levels.

7. The Rifle River in the northeastern Lower Peninsula has an an average depth of only eighteen to twenty-four inches. The shallow water makes it a popular choice for beginners and families canoeing with children.

8. The Crystal River is also located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The gentle current is easy for everyone to handle, although it does have a few obstacles along the route that can be avoided with a portage. The warm water is home to bass, sunfish and pike. There’s also a swimming hole down river where paddlers can take a quick dip.

9. The Thornapple River in West Michigan features calm waters and good fishing. It even has a historic covered bridge near its mouth.

10. The Sturgeon River is not recommended for beginners. It’s the fastest flowing river in the Lower Peninsula. There are also several obstacles in the water, such as rocks and narrow passages, that must be navigated quickly through the swift current. Advanced paddlers seeking a thrill love the exciting Sturgeon.

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