1. Crystal River
The Crystal River is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The river is very popular among kayakers, rafters and canoe enthusiasts, with two outfitters located in the village of Glen Arbor. For the most part, the depth of the water is no more than 1 foot and averages 15 to 20 feet in width. The gentle current is easy for everyone to handle, although it does have a few obstacles along the way. The warm water is home to bass, sunfish and pike. The Crystal is popular with fly fishermen and has a large population of brook and rainbow trout. There is also a swimming hole down river where paddlers can take a quick dip.
2. Big Manistee River
The Big Manistee River has long stretches of undeveloped, forested banks and clear, clean water. The river is used extensively for recreation, offering excellent conditions for canoeing, boating and fishing. This easygoing, predictable river is a favorite choice for groups of young paddlers, like the Boy and Girl Scouts. The river also offers abundant fishing, a sandy bottom for swimming and incredible views of the valley. The river is considered among the finest trout and salmon rivers in the country.
3. Pine River
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 others, 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. The river has several camping spots along the way and is abundant with fishing and hiking opportunities.
4. Huron River
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. The river is heavily fished by sportsmen for rock bass, sunfish, bluegill, black crappie and a whole lot more.
5. Sturgeon River
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 will love the exciting Sturgeon.