Choosing a Course of Action

Whether you want to float on liquid glass, paddle a fast current or portage for trophy-sized bluegills, Michigan has your ticket.
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Fall Color
Photography by Todd and Brad Reed Photography

36,350 river miles, 11,037 inland lakes

What’s your pleasure? Settle into 10 of Michigan’s top canoe treks.

  1. Best Canoe Trail: The Ludington State Park Canoe Trail is a six-mile, three-hour paddle into serene Hamlin Lake’s ponds, coves and marshes (VisitLudingtonStatePark.com, (231) 843-2423).
  2. Best White Water in the Lower Peninsula: When the Stronach Dam was removed in the 1990s, Manistee National Forest’s Pine River became even faster (Pine River Paddlesport Center, thepineriver.com).
  3. Best Water View: The Crystal River’s name is well-deserved: This easy, seven-mile paddle to Glen Arbor is like floating on liquid glass (Crystal River Canoe Livery, crystalriveroutfitters.com).
  4. Best Fall Color Paddle: Don’t miss this 15-mile stretch of the Au Sable River winding through the Mason Tract east of Roscommon come early October.
  5. Best Wilderness Paddle: The Two-Hearted River is a 20-mile trek through the U.P.’s wilds, ending at a remote stretch of Lake Superior (Rainbow Lodge, rainbowlodgemi.com).
  6. Best Moonlight Paddle: Comprised of long, narrow bodies of water, Antrim County’s upper Chain of Lakes is memorable on a serene summer evening (Jordan Valley Outfitters, jvoutfitters.com).
  7. Best Epic Paddle: Start paddling the Manistee River in Crawford County’s northwest corner and don’t stop until you reach Manistee, 10 days and 170 miles later (Wilderness Canoe Trips, manisteerivertrips.com).
  8. Best River for Birders: Long ago a logging run to Lake Superior, the AuTrain River today meanders a relaxing four hours past sloughs loaded with songbirds, waterfowl and herons (Dana’s Lakeside Resort, danasresort.com).
  9. Best Paddle for Bluegills: You can’t drive to Wakeley Lake east of Grayling, but the portage is short and once you’ve carried your canoe in, you’ll find trophy-size bluegills and bass in this non-motorized trove (Ray’s AuSable Canoeing, 989-348-5844).
  10. Best End to a Canoe Trip: Slow, shallow and family-friendly, the lower Platte River’s two-hour journey ends at one of Lake Michigan’s most beautiful beaches (Riverside Canoe Trips (canoemichigan.com).

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