Benzie County is filled with rivers meant for Northern Michigan paddling. The scenery is spectacular, but the sounds out on the river are what make it. Away from the traffic of cars, listen to the rhythm of the dip of your paddle, the singsongs of birds, and the quiet current as you take a relaxing trip down Benzie’s best. Tool around for just an hour, or even plan a multi-day kayaking trek if you are really looking for an up north vacation.

Betsie River

The 50-mile stretch of the protected Betsie offers sections of twisty river for the more adventurous spirit, and then opens into sleepy marshlands rich with wildlife. The scenery is wild, unspoiled, and provides opportunities for sighting great blue herons, loons, deer, and ducks.

Find rentals at Betsie River Canoes and Campground, 13598 Lindy Rd., Thompsonville, 231.879.3850 or Vacation Trailer Park and Canoe Rentals, 2080 Benzie Hwy., Benzonia, 231.882.5101.

Big Manistee River

An excellent river for beginner and intermediate paddlers and families with children, this river’s noted for its gentle currents and water so clean it supports one of the Midwest’s premier trout populations. On this designated Wild and Scenic River, your paddling route will pass many miles of undeveloped shore. Rustic campsites along the way make the river ideal for multi-day trips.

Launch from Manistee Paddlesport Adventures, 231 Parkdale, Manistee, 231.233.3265.

Need help planning a multi-day paddling trip on the Manistee?

Pine River

Known as one of the best rafting rivers in Lower Michigan, the Pine is located in the heart of Michigan’s Huron-Manistee National Forest. The Pine serves up a variety of paddling experiences. Plan a one-day or even a multi day trip, where you can camp along the water’s edge, listening to the music of the wildlife and taking in the palette of Mother Nature’s finest work.

Pine River Paddlesports Center, 9590 Grandview Hwy., Wellston, 231.862.3471.

Platte River

In the Platte, find a river of two temperaments: the Upper Platte offers swifter currents and more challenging paddling, and then gives way to the calmer waters of the Lower Platte, which meanders through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Watch for clusters of wildflowers and plentiful ducks and the occasional great blue heron as the river eases along. Where the river empties into Lake Michigan, find one of the prettiest bays on the coast.

Canoe and kayak rentals: Honor Trading Post, 231.325.2202 or Riverside Canoe Trips, 231.325.5622.

Kayaking on Platte River

Photo by Dave Weidner