Big Manistee River


River Description:

The Big Manistee River is a 190 mile river running through 4 Michigan Counties. Many of the most scenic and accessible stretches of river may be found in the Cadillac and Manistee Areas.   The river averages a gradient of about 2.9 feet/mile making this great for the novice paddler. The river is quite wide and you will frequently pass motorboats and fisherman looking for their trophy catch in these fertile waters. The river averages a depth of 3’-9’+ in certain segments. The current can also be swift along the switchback segments.

Difficulty: Easy


River Amenities/Quick Look:

  • The majority of the sites are US Forest Service/Michigan Dept. of Natural Resource sites and therefore, day use fees will apply.  See the amenities at each of the sites outlined on the map below for more information.

Rainbow Bend Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area
– Fishing Platform
– Information station
– Paved boat launch
– Drinking Water Available

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Bear Creek Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area
– Fishing Platform
– Information station
– Parking Area

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High Bridge Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area
– Toilets
– Paved Boat Launch
– Parking Area

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Tippy Dam Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Area
– Restrooms Available
– Picnic Tables/Area

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Red Bridge Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Information Station
– Toilets
– Paved Boat Launch
– Parking Area
– Camping Available
– Drinking Water Available

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Hodenpyl Dam Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area
– Toilets
– Boat Launch
– Parking Area

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M-115 Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: No
– Parking Area

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Glengary Bridge Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: No
– Parking Area

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LIVERY: Wilderness Canoe Rentals/Trips

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area (fee applies)
– Rentals Available (Tubes, Kayaks, Canoes, Rafts)
– Shuttle Service Available (fee)
– River Guide/Information
– Picnic Area (for customer use)
– General Store

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Harvey Bridge Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: No
– Parking Area
– Paved boat launch

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Fire Lane Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: No
– Parking Area

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Baxter Bridge Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: No
– Parking Area
– Toilets
– Information Station

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US-131 Access

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area
– Toilets
– Information Station
– Picnic Area
– Paved Boat Launch

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LIVERY: Chippewa Landing Rentals/Trips

Site Amenities:
– Parking Fee: Yes
– Parking Area (fee applies)
– Rentals Available (Tubes, Kayaks, Canoes, Rafts)
– Shuttle Service Available (fee)
– River Guide/Information
– Camping Available (fee)
– Picnic Area (for customer use)
– General Store

GET DIRECTIONS TO THIS SITE

Chippewa Landing >> 0.1 hrs  >> US 131 Access >> 4.0 hrs >> Baxter Bridge >> 3.5 hrs >> Fire Lane >> 2.0 hrs >> Harvey Bridge >> 3.0 hrs  >> Wilderness Canoe Trips >> 0.30 hrs >> Glengary Bridge >> 1.0 hrs >> M-115 Bridge >> 2.0 hrs >> Hodenpyl Dam (Portage Required) >> 4.0 hrs  >> Red Bridge >> 3.5 hrs >> Tippy Dam (Portage Required) >> 2.0 hrs >> High Bridge >> 1.5 hrs >> Bear Creek >> 4.0 hrs  >> Rainbow Bend

Total float time for the entire segment outlined >> 31.0 hrs


Top Family Friendly Float Segment:

Upper Portion: Much of the Big Manistee River is ideal for Families and groups. With float segments from 1 hr to 4+ hours in duration, this river is ideal for day trips or overnight trips.  On the upper river portion (north of Hodenpyl Dam) a favorite trip is the US-131 to Baxter Bridge.  This will be a full 4 hour float, but is in the heart of the Manistee National Forest and is absolutely beautiful.

Middle Section: From Hodenpyl Dam down to Red Bridge, you will find some of the highest banks along the river with beautiful scenery and an abundance of nature.  This 4 hour float is also great for the entire family.

Lower Portion (Great for first timers with kids): If you have under 2 hours, the Bear Creek to Rainbow Bend section is ideal.  Wide and smooth flowing, this is perfect for beginners.


Looking for more info? Ask one of the Rental Liveries above and they can customize your trip for you!

Unplug. Explore. Michigan's Great Outdoors.

The Michigan's Great Outdoors collaborative consists of five Northern Michigan counties all working together to promote tourism in the region.  With so many hiking, biking, winter sports, and ORV trails in the region that dynamically connect these counties, this site is devoted to educate the first-time visitor to the region looking to explore the great outdoors for the first time.  We welcome you to browse this site and explore all this region has to offer.