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Indian River Canoe Trail
The Indian River Canoe Trailhead at Fish Lake is approximately 36 miles northwest of Manistique, and about 15 miles south of Munising. The Indian River, from Fish Lake to Indian lake, a total of about 40 miles, offers excellent canoeing. After mid-June, the gentle flow of the river, combined with its scenic beauty, will impress any canoeist. A one or two-day trip will take deep into the Hiawatha National Forest, where you will drift past northern hardwoods, mixed conifers, rolling hills and marshland swamps. The average width of the Indian River is 30-50 ft., and has an average depth of 1 to 3 ft.
Note: Before mid-June the water is running high and fast. We recommend only canoers and kayakers with advanced skills attempt to float the river during this time.
River Characteristics Between Access Points
(1-2) Fish Lake to Widewaters Campground:
From Fish Lake you travel the widest part of the river for 1/2 mile to Widewaters Campground. This is a fee area with toilets, tables, fireplaces, and drinking water.
(2-3) Widewaters Campground to Tommy Page Bridge (approx. 4.5 mi.):
There is a bit of fast water above Forest Highway 13 to add to your canoeing or kayaking excitement. West of the Bridge you can canoe into Straits Lake, Deep Lake, and Corner Lake, but the islands and land here are private.
(3-4) Tommy Page Bridge to McCormich (approx. 4 mi.):
This stretch tends to be shallow and rocky and the terrain varies from wide open fields to forested areas. The slow pace makes for easy paddling.
(4-5) McCormich to Thunder Lake Road (approx. 4.2 mi):
This stretch flows along the northern boundary of the Ironjaw semi primitive non-motorized area. NOTE: There are steep banks and erosion is evident. Please do not climb these steep slopes.
(5-6) Thunder Lake Road to Indian River Campground (approx 10 mi.):
Just south of Steuben you will drift past 30 ft. of high banks. Please do not climb these high banks. At the Indian River Campground, use the foot bridge area for put-ins and take-outs. The campground, a fee area, has tables, toilets, and drinking water. There is a picnic area. NOTE: This reach is not recommended for novice canoers or kayakers. Moderate skill is required to avoid logs in the river. Portaging may be necessary.
(6-7) Indian River Campground to 8-Mile Bridge (approx. 6 mi.):
This area is mostly marshlands and meanders. Nature enthusiasts and photographers will delight in this environment.
(7-8) 8-Mile Bridge to Palms Book State Park (DNR boat access – approx. 10 mi.):
Below this access point the river enters “THE SPREADS” – a series of shallow, maze-like braids. An alternate route is marked in this area in order to avoid portaging and dragging your canoe. There are no roads or access points below the 8-Mile Bridge. Indian Lake is 8 miles downstream from the 8-Mile Bridge. The State park boat launch is another 2 miles. Caution is advised on the Lake because this large shallow lake can be dangerous during periods of strong winds. For safety, canoe or kayak near the shoreline.
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