This 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 great sand bars at which to stop and socialize.
River Difficulty/Paddling Tips
The entire Manistee River located within Manistee County is what we would consider easy to moderate for the paddler. Like many rivers, the higher up the river you go, the swifter the current and tighter the turns. This is a great river for the beginner paddler, but be sure to wear your life jacket, portions of this river can be quite deep.
Those looking for a lazy float down the river, tube the Hodenpyl Dam to Red Bridge access. Make sure you leave early in the morning, this can be a long float, but a fun one. Many places to stop and enjoy company with good friends. Bear Creek > Rainbow Bend is also a nice float for those looking for a quick afternoon or morning adventure.
Download the Big Manistee River Float Map
Major Access Points on the River System: Download map for details.
- Hodenpyl Dam - Map (at the end of Hodenpyl Road)
- Red Bridge - Map
- Tippy Dam - Map (at the end of Dilling Road)
- High Bridge - Map
- Bear Creek - Map (east of Kettner Road on River Road)
- Rainbow Bend - Map (Just off River Road between Milarch and Kettner)
- M55 Bridge (no access only for float times)
- Manistee's Douglas Park near Lake Michigan - Map
- Hodenpyl Dam > Red Bridge : 4.0 hrs
- Red Bridge > Tippy Dam : 3.5 hrs
- Tippy Dam > High Bridge : 2.0 hrs
- High Bridge > Bear Creek : 3.0 hrs
- Bear Creek > Rainbow Bend : 1.5 hrs
- Rainbow Bend > M55 : 4.0 hrs
- M55 > Douglas Park : 1.5 hrs.