5 of the Best Michigan Rivers for Canoeing

Our home state of Michigan may be called the Great Lakes State but we’re also home to over 300 rivers and streams with 126 major waterways covering close to 36,350 miles.

The following five rivers are our favorite canoe spots and are perfect for beginners or expert paddlers. There is nothing better than a day on the water.

Au Sable River

The Au Sable River is located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. It flows over 130 miles, with breathtaking views of sand dunes and forested banks. Class I to Class III rapids cater to every skill level, offering novices and experts alike an enthralling experience. With multiple access points and varying trip lengths, the Au Sable River is perfect for a leisurely float or a more challenging adventure.

Manistee River

Winding across 190 miles of Northwestern Michigan, The Manistee River offers a diverse experience with mild waters interspersed with more extreme rapids. If you’re looking for an overnight trip, there are lots of spots on the shore throughout the Manistee National Forest. Grab your hiking boots, fishing pole and the Trail Cap cause trout fishing in this river is legendary. 

Pere Marquette River

Crystal-clear waters are a landmark of the Pere Marquette River. Stretching 60 miles through western Michigan, the river’s gentle currents and mild rapids offer a serene canoeing experience with many popular spots for anglers, with a dense brown and rainbow trout population. As you paddle, be prepared to encounter wildlife, from bald eagles to ospreys.

Huron River

The Huron River, spanning 130 miles in Eastern Michigan, is renowned for being family-friendly with tranquil waters and ample resting spots. The river’s relaxed flow means it’s perfect for beginners. Paddlers can break up the journey with stops at the numerous parks dotting the riverbanks. This river touches 30 communities, five counties, six liveries, and four canoe campgrounds. 

St. Clair River

Connecting Lake Huron and Lake Saint Clair, the St. Clair River is not for the faint of heart and is best for seasoned paddlers. While intense currents rush through Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, the river’s rapid sections offer an adrenaline-packed journey. 

Each river offers a unique experience, from tranquil stretches to heart-pounding rapids. Grab your canoes, and check out more than just the lakes from the Great Lakes State.

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