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Let’s Canoe/Kayak the Pine Wild and Scenic River, MI

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  • Peterson Bridge South Campgrounds

    44.202064, -85.797847, Wellston, MI (map)

    44.215004 -85.760262

  • Let’s Canoe/Kayak the Pine Wild and Scenic River, MI

    The Pine River is 5 hours from Chicago.  BYOB stands for Bring your own boat (canoe or kayak).  This trip is open to people with their own canoes & kayaks.  Also include if you need a ride or can offer a ride.


    The Pine Wild & Scenic River is Lower Michigan's fastest moving stream, with frequent riffles and occasional rapids throughout. While the rapids of the Pine are not considered big according to whitewater standards, scattered large rocks and bedrock ledges create small standing waves and require a fair amount of maneuvering.

    The lower 26-miles of the Pine River was designated a National Scenic River in 1992. The Pine River provides a unique recreation experience for Lower Michigan, supporting quality opportunities for a diversity of recreation activities in a relatively undeveloped setting. Canoeing and kayaking are the primary activities on this river, with much of the appeal being the fast water and light rapids. The Pine River has a river gradient of 7% and offers the fastest average flow of any river in Lower Michigan.

    Scenery is one of the most outstanding attributes of the river. The designated portion of the river contains a unique riparian land form with its deeply incised river channel and high, exposed sand banks. Diverse vegetation contributes to the overall "scenic" feel of the river. Tree species vary from cedar-hemlock, ash, elm, sugar and red maple, and basswood in the lowland portions to mixed oak, pine and aspen in the upland areas. There are small openings scattered throughout the corridor that provide habitat diversity for many species of wildlife.


    Maps and Directions:


    Tentative Schedule:

    Friday Night: Arrive and setup camp


    9:15  Shuttle your cars.

    10:00  Everyone starts paddling from Elm Flats Canoe Launch.

    12:30  Stop at Dobson's Bridge for lunch\break

    3:30  Arrive at Campgrounds.

    6:00  Potluck dinner at the picnic shelter across the river.  Please bring a dish to pass.


    8:00  Shuttle your cars.

    9:00  Everyone start paddle from the campgrounds.

    12:00 - 1:00 arrive Low Bridge.

    Take down camp and head for home.



    We will be camping at Peterson Bridge South Campgrounds. (We will be ending Saturday’s trip at Peterson Bridge and taking off from there Sunday morning.) They have 10 walk-in sites ($5 per night) by the river with pit toilets and 20 drive-up sites ($14 per night) with flush toilets. No showers or electricity. This time of year, reservations are not accepted. You are allowed up to 8 people and 2 vehicles per site. There is a picnic shelter at Peterson Bridge North Day Use Area. It is right across the river from the campgrounds. It is a great place for the Saturday Night potluck or a gathering place if it rains.

    There is also a $5 per day ($15 per week) Recreational Pass per vehicle.


    Directions: Travel east on M-55. Turn right and travel south on M-37 for 1.5 miles. The entrance is on the left, after the bridge.

    Latitude: [masked] Longitude: [masked]


    Canoe/Kayak Trip: 

    Saturday:We will start at Elm Flats and end up at Peterson Bridge. The trip will be around 4.5 hours. We will take a break for lunch after 2.5 hours at Dobson's Bridge. (We are camping at Peterson Bridge this weekend.)

    Sunday:We will start at Peterson Bridge and end up at Low Bridge. The trip will be around 3.0 hours.


    More information:

    Low Bridge Canoe Landing:

    Peterson Bridge South Campgrounds:

    Peterson Bridge North Day Use Area:

    Pine Wild and Scenic River:

    Elm Flats Canoe Landing:

    Dobson's Bridge:


    Paddling Restrictions Violations of the Maritime Safety Act are strictly enforced on this river. To protect the river and provide an enjoyable paddling experience for all visitors, the following restrictions apply:

    • Each paddler needs a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Children under 12 must wear a PDF at all times.
    • Fasten all equipment, bottles and containers to the watercraft.
    • Pack out all trash.
    • Paddlers are encouraged to stop erosion by not climbing riverbanks.
    • The following are prohibited:
      • Fireworks,
      • Nudity,
      • Drunk and disorderly/underage,
      • Drugs,
      • Harassing wildlife,
      • Diving from or standing in canoes,
      • Trespassing on private property,
      • Collecting animals, plants or driftwood,
      • Glass, Styrofoam and balloons.
      • Use public sites for rest stops.

    Possessing, storing or transporting Styrofoam coolers, glass beverage and/or food containers on the Pine National Scenic River is prohibited.


    This is a great trip.  I hope you can make it.






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  • Angelique A.

    Could I join on Thursday?

    July 21, 2013

  • John D

    Kevin, is this a weekday trip? August 13th is a Tuesday.

    February 26, 2013

    • Kevin

      This is a weekday trip. You will have a hard time getting a permit to canoe the Pine River on the weekend. We are camping here Tuesday and Wednesday Nights. We are moving to Lake Michigan Recreation Area for Thursday - Sunday which is about and 1 hour drive away.

      March 3, 2013


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