Water Activities

Choose from the following to find a site:


Manistee River near the High Bridge River Access site.Within the boundaries of the Huron-Manistee National Forests there are more than 1,800 miles of rivers and 17,000 acres of lakes that provide a range of recreation opportunties and a variety of fish and wildlife habitats.


Motorized Boating

Motorized boating is allowed on many of the lakes with Federal Access, most of the boat launches are gravel or asphalt and are located within Forest Service Campgrounds.  Two rivers, the AuSable from Alcona Pond to Lake Huron and the Manistee are open to motorized boating.  The impoundments of the AuSable create a lake-like atmosphere, popular for motor-boating and fishing.  The Manistee River is wide and deep with a swift current and slow, wide bends.  


Nonmotorized Boating

The five Congressionally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers and two candidate Wild and Scenic Rivers provide canoers and kayakers a range of experiences. Additionally, the Little Manistee and Big Sable are popular rivers for visitors looking for fewer crowds. 


The AuSable National Scenic River, is a 23-mile portion of the Au Sable River that stretches from Mio to Alcona Pond.  The 65-mile section of the river from Grayling to Alcona Dam are unrestricted to canoeing and kayaking. On the section of AuSable from Alcona Dam to Loud Pond and below Foote Dam narrow stretches are perfect for canoes and kayaks.

Little Manistee

 More popular for fishing, the river is shallow and has many bends. 


The Manistee River is wide and deep with a swift current and slow, wide bends. Anglers are lured by the annual salmon and steelhead runs, as well as brown trout, small mouth bass and walleye. The annual steelhead release at Rainbow Bend draws large numbers of anglers every year.

Pere Marquette and Pine

The Pere Marquette and Pine Rivers both require permits from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend to the Monday of Labor Day weekend.

The Pere Marquette wanders gently across the central Michigan landscape; free flowing and clear for over 60-miles from the junction of the Middle and South Branches to its terminus in Lake Pere Marquette.

Canoeing and kayaking are the primary activities on the Pine River, with much of the appeal being the fast water and light rapids. The River has a river gradient of 7% and offers the fastest average flow of any river in lower Michigan.

White River

The White River is characterized by a primarily sand bottom with deep pockets of water and small sections of gravel bottom. Paddlers find the river to be a steady and moderate float, with a meandering course.


Many of the lakes on the forest offer visitors the opportunity for a short, quiet paddle. Most sites have boat launches, but there are a few that are walk-in access only.



Several campgrounds and day use sites on the Forests have beaches available for visitors to use. With a variety of sandy bottomed lakes across the Forests to choose from, visitors will not be lacking in swimming opportunities. Lakes range in size and depth, and most Forest Service access sites are the only public access available to those lakes. 



Visitors will often spend a lazy afternoon tubing down one of the many miles of river available on the forest, particularly on the AuSable National Scenic River, Manistee and White Rivers.