Float Your Boat
Northern Michigans best paddling adventures
By Mike Terrell 8/10/09
Summertime and the paddling is easy in Northern Michigan. One of the best ways to beat the heat and crowds at local beaches is to take a float on one of the many fine paddling rivers that lace the northland.
Canoeing has a long, rich history in northern Lower Michigan. Two of the more famous rivers the 150-mile Manistee and 120-mile AuSable provided the first link between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Theres a portage of about 15 miles between the rivers upper reaches north of Grayling. Early European settlers and Native Americans before them used this link to traverse the bog-laden hinterland between the Great Lakes.
Today these two rivers and numerous smaller ones provide fine experiences for a new generation of recreational paddlers. Many waterways have been protected from development through the Wild/Scenic River designation, and are still as scenic and beautiful as our forefathers found them.
Some of the more popular rivers, in addition to the Manistee and AuSable, are the Boardman, Jordan, Lower Platte and Pine. These rivers are normally not bad to paddle midweek during the summer, but weekends can be very busy to the point of being like bumper boats as you float downstream. The Pine actually has a permit system, which you have to obtain from National Forest Service offices from mid-May through Labor Day.