Cutting through the Manistee National Forest, with several camping spots along the way, the Pine River is rife with abundant fishing and hiking opportunities. Whether it be kayaking, canoeing or rafting, the Pine River is 67 miles of paddle-navigable bliss with an assortment of supplementary activities to enjoy along the way. Here’s where to find boat rentals and travel tips for your Pine River adventure.
Pine River Kayak & Canoe Rentals
Located in Wellston in the heart of the Huron-Manistee National Forest, Pine River Paddlesports rents kayaks, canoes, rubber rafts and tubes, and even has its own campground within the forest. Their guides can help you plan out which segment of the Pine you want to navigate (or how to do the whole thing) and provide shuttle transportation so your vehicle is waiting upon your arrival. Pine River Paddlesports is located at 9590 South Grandview Highway. You can reach them at 231.862.3471.
Bosman rents canoes, tandem kayaks, solo kayaks, and 4- or 6-person rafts. They are located just north on M37 from Pine River Paddlesports, and also offer transportation from many nearby campgrounds. Bosman Canoe Rental is located at 8027 Grandview Highway. You can call them at 877.622.6637 (877.6CANOES).
Another livery/campground in Wellston, Sportsman’s Port offers rentals of canoes, a variety of Old Town kayaks (single, tandem, sit-on-top or open cockpit), and rafts. Their family-friendly campground has modern or rustic sites available. Sportsman’s Port is located at 10487 W. M55 Highway; you can give them a ring at 231.862.3571.
Situated in Irons, Shomler rents Old Town canoes and kayaks and a few different options for rafts. They will also be happy to help plan your trip along one or more segments of the Pine. You can find them at 11390 M37, call them at 231.862.3475.
Paddling the Pine River
The Pine River delivers paddling options for any skill level, from beginners to seasoned scullers. Before you venture out, it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into; thankfully the friendly staff at any of the above rental companies will assist you in finding the right stretch of the Pine River to tackle.
Mark Miltner, co-owner of Pine River Paddlesports, says that there’s something for everyone on the Pine. “Some sections of the river are more spirited than others,” he attests. “Generally, the river above Dobson has a less intense gradient and less speed.” This means that if you’re a less accomplished watersport lover, from the beginning of the Pine at Edgetts all the way down to Dobson (a segment that can last nearly 8.5 hours of paddling), the water is more forgiving. This will take you through the Walker Bridge Canoe Livery and the Silver Creek Trail.
Those searching for a more challenging cruise, parts of the Pine River feature the highest concentration of rapids in any river in the Lower Peninsula. From Dobson downstream to Norman Dixon, the river’s gradient (and subsequent the speed of your boat) will increase significantly.
The best bet for families looking for the ideal adventure is to consult the canoe connoisseurs of Pine River Paddlesports. “We examine each group’s expectations based on their paddling experience,” Mark says. “We leave it up to them, but offer pointers to what we think would work best.”
For families with smaller children who don’t want to worry about tipping a canoe or kayak with their little ones, opting for a raft instead is a viable and fun option that ensures everyone has a splashing good time.
More Outdoor Fun Along the Pine River
The Pine isn’t all about paddling. Its prime location within the sprawling Manistee National Forest makes it an awesome spot to supplement your voyage with stops dedicated to fishing, hiking, camping and wildlife watching.
If you want to dedicate the two and a half days needed to traverse the entirety of the river, there are plenty of campsites scattered from Edgetts to Norman Dixon. According to Mark, a smaller percentage of travelers establish a camp and then arrange for a shuttle to ship their gear to their decided endpoint, so a car is waiting upon your arrival. Many choose to set up and break down camp each day and pack it into the boat for a truly mobile tour.
Lover of critters of all kinds? The Pine is, by no exaggeration, an optimal place to observe the best of Michigan’s wildlife. From mallards to red tailed hawks, red foxes to painted turtles, you’ll have the chance to see creatures that fly, float, scamper and slither. Not to mention an abundance of three kinds of trout: Mark assures that “the whole river is a superb fishery.” Check out Pine River Paddlesports’ Bird and Wildlife Checklist to learn what you could catch a glimpse of.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your paddle, the Pine is waiting!