MICHIGAN'S WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS

National Wild and Scenic RiversA National Wild and Scenic River is an official, federal designation that was created by Congress in 1968. It began as a response to the damming, diverting and degrading that had been happening to many of our country's great waterways.

In Michigan 625 miles of rivers are designated "Wild and Scenic." These rivers possess remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values. They and their immediate environments are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

A Wild and Scenic River is not a national park or wilderness area. The idea is not to halt development and use of a river; instead, the goal is to preserve the character of a river.

To learn more about our National Wild and Scenic Rivers, visit the official National Park Service web site, the Michigan DNR page about these rivers, and a map of Michigan's Natural and Wild & Scenic Rivers.

 

Lower Peninsula

AuSable River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: October 4, 1984. The main stem from the Mio Pond project boundary downstream to the Alcona Pond project boundary.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 23.0 miles; Total -- 23.0 miles.

This short stretch of river preserves only a small portion of one of Michigan's most popular canoeing rivers. The AuSable is one of America's most productive trout fisheries.

Bear Creek, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From Coates Highway to the confluence with the Manistee River.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 6.5 miles; Total -- 6.5 miles.

The lower 6.5 miles of Bear Creek meanders through lush swamps, rolling hills, and farm land. Limited access and development enhance the pristine scenery. There are healthy populations of both resident trout and anadromous steelhead and salmon.

Manistee River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From the Michigan Department of Natural Resources boat ramp below Tippy Dam to the Michigan State Highway 55 Bridge.

Classification/Mileage: Recreational -- 26.0 miles; Total -- 26.0 miles.

The lower Manistee River is a slow, wide river that meanders through rolling hills and rich marsh land teeming with wildlife. The Manistee River is very popular for its excellent fishing, particularly for salmon, as well as for quality boating and scenery.

Pere Marquette River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)
(map and more info)

Designation/Reach: November 10, 1978. The segment downstream from the junction of the Middle and Little South Branches to its junction with U.S. Highway 31.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 66.0 miles; Total -- 66.0 miles.

Wandering gently through overhanging bluffs and across the grassy floodplains of central Michigan, this is one of the finest trout streams of the Midwest.

Pine River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. The segment from Lincoln Bridge to the east 1/16th line of Section 16, T21N, R13W.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 26.0 miles; Total -- 26.0 miles.

The lower 25 miles of the Pine River wind swiftly through a deeply cut channel with heavily forested upland, offering high-quality fishing, small-craft boating, and outstanding scenery.

 

Upper Peninsula

Black River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From the Ottawa National Forest Boundary to Lake Superior.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 14.0 miles; Total -- 14.0 miles.

The Black River provides visitors with outstanding scenery, unique geographical features, superb fisheries, cultural history, and abundant recreation opportunities. The many waterfalls, rapids, and gorge-like landscapes along this river, combined with a mix of large hemlock and eastern white pine, has long been recognized as a distinctive resource.

Carp River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From the west section line of section 30, T43N, R5W to Lake Huron.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 12.4 miles; Scenic -- 9.3 miles; Recreational -- 6.1 miles; Total -- 27.8 miles.

The Carp River flows through predominately forested lands with little development along its way. Spring's high water facilitates canoeing and offers steelhead fishing and dipping for smelt near the river's mouth. Summer is the time for brook or brown trout, and fall brings salmon fishing.

Indian River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From Hovey Lake to Indian Lake.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 12.0 miles; Recreational -- 39.0 miles; Total -- 51.0 miles.

The Indian River provides a variety of beautiful scenery, from canyon-like banks and sharp meandering curves to broad marshland reaches. Trout fishing is good and there is spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, as well as eagle and osprey habitat. Obstructed waters require frequent portages for canoes downstream from Steuben.

Ontonagon River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. The East Branch from its origin to the Ottawa National Forest boundary. The Middle Branch from its origin to the northern boundary of the Ottawa National Forest. The Cisco Branch from its origin at Cisco Lake Dam to its confluence with Ten-Mile Creek south of Ewen. The West Branch from its confluence with Cascade Falls to Victoria Reservoir.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 42.9 miles; Scenic -- 41.0 miles; Recreational -- 73.5 miles; Total -- 157.4 miles.

In this true backcountry setting, the gorge-like landscape, exposed sandstone cliffs, and waterfalls provide a unique recreational area for the mid-western United States. The river also has excellent fishing for resident brown trout, Lake Superior run salmon, and steelhead.

Paint River, USFS (also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. The main stem from the confluence of the North and South Branches to the Ottawa National Forest boundary. The North Branch from its origin to its confluence with the South Branch. The South Branch from its origin to its confluence with the North Branch.

Classification/Mileage: Recreational -- 51.0 miles; Total -- 51.0 miles.

The main stem of the Paint River is an excellent year-long canoe route. The brook and rainbow trout fishing is outstanding. The historical use of this river for log drives provides many historical interpretive opportunities.

Presque Isle River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. The main stem from the confluence of the East and West Branches to Minnewawa Falls. The East Branch within the Ottawa National Forest. The South Branch within the Ottawa National Forest. The West Branch within the Ottawa National Forest.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 19.0 miles; Recreational -- 38.0 miles; Total -- 57.0 miles.

Portions of this river are considered by some as the most challenging whitewater river in Michigan, if not in the Midwest. This river is listed as one of the ten North American rivers that "defines the outer edge of contemporary whitewater paddling" (Canoe Magazine).

Sturgeon River (Hiawatha National Forest), USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From the north line of Section 26, T43N, R19W, to Lake Michigan.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 21.7 miles; Recreational -- 22.2 miles; Total -- 43.9 miles.

Early summer and late fall are the best times to canoe the Sturgeon River. Two rapids challenge the canoer. Elusive brown trout, steelhead and salmon challenge anglers.

Sturgeon River (Ottawa National Forest), USFS
(also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From its entry into the Ottawa National Forest to the northern boundary of the Ottawa National Forest.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 16.5 miles; Scenic -- 8.5 miles; Total -- 25.0 miles.

This river flows through a narrow, dissected, gorge-like valley with an average depth of 200-300 feet. Valley walls have slopes of 50-90%, and the river flows through the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness.

Tahquamenon River (East Branch), USFS
(also Blue Ribbon Trout Stream)

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From its origin to the Hiawatha National Forest boundary.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 3.2 miles; Recreational -- 10.0 miles; Total -- 13.2 miles.

The East Branch of the Tahquamenon River is a high-quality brook trout stream. Persistent anglers, who overcome the dense alder along much of its length, are well rewarded for their efforts.

Whitefish River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. The main stem from its confluence with the East and West Branches to Lake Michigan. The East Branch from the crossing of County Road 003 to its confluence with the West Branch. The West Branch from County Road 444 to its confluence with the East Branch.

Classification/Mileage: Scenic -- 31.5 miles; Recreational -- 2.1 miles; Total -- 33.6 miles.

The Whitefish River is cold, swift and deep in the early spring to challenge canoeists and provide good steelhead fishing. During the summer, much of the river becomes too shallow for canoeing, but offers fishing for brook trout in the upper reaches and a variety of warmwater species downstream from the confluence of the East and West Branches.

Yellow Dog River, USFS

Designation/Reach: March 3, 1992. From its origin at the outlet of Bulldog Lake Dam to the boundary of the Ottawa National Forest.

Classification/Mileage: Wild -- 4.0; Total -- 4.0 miles.

The Yellow Dog River drops 240 feet through numerous outcrops and cascades within the McCormick Wilderness. Surrounding vegetation consists of large eastern white pine, eastern hemlock, sugar maple, northern red oak, and other old-growth northern hardwood species.

 

 

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