Spend your summer floating, kayaking, paddling and canoeing these Northern Michigan rivers. From Betsie to Pine or Platte to Manistee, there is a river for all experience levels. Explore these four options below to start planning your trip.

This portion of the article was featured in the 2021 Traverse Magazine Vacation Guide. Download your free digital issue today to experience the full guide for yourself.

Kayaking on Platte River in Michigan.

Betsie River for Experienced Paddlers

This spunky, twisting, churning river isn’t for beginners or even intermediate paddlers. But if you’re an experienced paddler, this is your river. The Betsie’s navigable waters start at Grass Lake State Forest Campground in Thompsonville and the river empties into Lake Michigan’s Betsie Bay in Frankfort.

OUTFITTERS: Betsie River Canoes and Campground & Vacation Trailer Park

Adventure Down Pine River

A federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Pine is the fastest river in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Winding through a deep, forested valley carved eons ago by glaciers, the Pine River is your next great adventure.

OUTFITTERS: Pine River Paddlesports Center and Campground & Horina Canoe & Kayak Rental

Float or Paddle on Platte River

From the swift, chilly waters of the Upper Platte to the warm, slo-mo Lower Platte, this 29-mile-long river is made for paddling and floating fun. Arriving at the river mouth on Lake Michigan’s stunning Platte Bay is the trip’s grand finale.

OUTFITTERS: Riverside Canoes in Honor & The Honor Trading Post

The Big Manistee & The Little Manistee 

Also a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Big Manistee River is wide and smooth flowing. Some parts have tighter navigation and fast switchbacks which may take you a little off guard, but this is a great river for the casual paddler. You will also find an abundance of rope swings and sand bars that invite swim breaks. Looking for more of a challenge? The separate Little Manistee River, specifically the upper section, is excellent for intermediate to advanced paddlers. For reference, here’s a Big Manistee and Little Manistee map

OUTFITTERS: Manistee Adventures, Wilderness Canoe Trips, and Pine River Paddlesports Center and Campground.

Have your own canoe or kayak? The Manistee County Visitors Bureau has excellent information on where to put in, take out and what to expect on each river.

Find this and more in the free, digital edition of MyNorth’s 2021 Northern Michigan Vacation Guide below; or get the annual Vacation Guide in print each year for free when you subscribe to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, delivered to your door each month.

 
 

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner