Manistee River


Area Status: Open

Manistee National Recreation RiverThe Manistee River, from Tippy Dam to the M-55 Bridge, is a designated National Recreation River.  There are several river access sites, day use areas and campgrounds located along this section of river.  During the summer the river is popular with canoers and kayakers, while during the fall salmon season, sites such as Suicide Bend and Sawdust Hole are popular with anglers.

The section north of Tippy Dam, up to Hodenpyl Dam Pond, is bordered on either side by the Manistee River Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail.  This area is also within the Manistee River Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized Area, a 7,900 acre area of the Forest.

 

Brochure with map:

This brochure is set to print on 11 x 17 paper, landscape (wide) orientation.  To print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper set the print area to "shrink to printable area", this will make the text on the page smaller.

 

Flickr Photo Albums

At a Glance

Reservations: No reservations are needed for this river.
Rentals & Guides: Manistee:
  • Manistee Paddlesport Adventures
Irons
  • Enchanted Acres
Wellston
  • Pine Creek Livery
Area Amenities: Accessible, Boat ramp, Tent camping, Camping trailer, Fee charged for some activities, Picnic tables, Toilets, Drinking water, Parking
Fees: Recreation Enhancement Act Fee - Day Use -
  • Sawdust Hole
  • High Bridge
  • Blacksmith Bayou
  • Udell Rollways
  • Bear Creek
  • Rainbow Bend
  • Seaton Creek Campground
Camping -
  • Seaton Creek Campground
Permit Info: No watercraft permit is required on this river.
Open Season: January 1 - December 31
Restrictions: The following rules are available to you on-line or at any office of the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Please take time to read and understand them. General Topic orders apply across the Forests. Applicable Orders -
  • Motorized Vehicle Use of Roads, Trails and Off-road Areas; R904-14-02
  • Occupancy and Use - Developed Recreation Areas, Dispersed Areas, Being Publicly Nude, Marine Prohibitions, Parking and Sanitation; R904-14-03
Closest Towns: Manistee, Irons, Wellston, Brethren, Mesick
Water: Yes
Restroom: Yes
Operated By: Cadillac/Manistee Ranger Station (231) 577-8902
Information Center: Cadillac/Manistee Ranger Station

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Campground Camping

There are several small campgrounds located along the National Recreation River portion of the Manistee River. No reservations are needed at these sites, all sites are first come, first served.

Camping is allowed 200 feet or more from the river, in addition to camping at designated campgrounds and primitive campsites.  Camping is NOT allowed on the islands, except at the designated sites on Government Island. 

Red Bridge is located north of Tippy Dam Pond and is also a trailhead for the Manistee River Trail, and provides a spur trail to the North Country National Scenic Trail.  The remaining access sites with campgrounds are located south of Tippy Dam Pond. 

North of Red Bridge there are 43 designated primitive campsites.  Seaton Creek Campground is located near Hodenpyle Dam Pond and is also a trailhead for the Manistee River Trail.  A spur trail to the North Country National Scenic Trail is available from the campground. 

Dispersed camping is permitted within the Semi-Primitive Nonmotorized Area, outside of the river corridor. There are no campgrounds or designated campsites along Bear Creek on National Forest Service system lands. 

Areas for Campground Camping at Manistee River

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at Manistee River

Lake and Pond Fishing

Fishing is allowed in any of the lakes and ponds within the Manistee River area. 

Areas for Lake and Pond Fishing at Manistee River

River and Stream Fishing

Fishing is a very popular activity along the Manistee River and Bear Creek Scenic River. 

Along the Upper and Recreation portions of the Manistee River, anglers are lured by the annual salmon and steelhead runs, as well as brown trout, smallmouth bass and walleye.  Salmon season is the busiest for this river, and access sites are often filled to capacity. 

A 3.5 mile section of Bear Creek flows through the National Forest.  The only access to this river on National Forest Land is Bear Creek River Access Site.  The river is great for cold water fishing, and the river is particularly busy during fishing season where it meets up with the Manistee River. 

Areas for River and Stream Fishing at Manistee River

Ice Fishing

Walk-on ice fishing is permitted on National Forest Lands. No vehicles may be driven onto the ice of any lake, pond, stream or river on the National Forest. Ice fishing is done at the fishermans own risk.

Areas for Ice Fishing at Manistee River

Day Hiking

The Manistee River Trail -
The Manistee River Trail follows the east shore of the Manistee River for 8.8 miles through rolling hills.  The trail traverses past several wetlands and there are bridges crossing two creeks.  A waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers.  The Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail connector is also the site of the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan.  Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with vista views of the Manistee River and surrounding area.  There are several dispersed campsites along the trail.
 

North Country National Scenic Trail -

A 23-mile loop trail is formed with the Manistee River Trail along the Manistee River.  The loop trail can be accessed from the Marilla and Upper Branch Trailheads for the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Red Bridge and Seaton Creek accesses for the Manistee River Trail.  This hike can also be done as a one-day hike by only walking one side of the river. 

The portion of the trail between Blacksmith Bayou and High Bridge, along the Manistee River, is a signed interpretive trail and is maintained in partnership with trail volunteers.

The North Country National Scenic Trail also passes below and west of Sawdust Hole. 

Bear Creek -

A short, 1/4 mile walk is located along Bear Creek at the Bear Creek River Access Site for those wanting a quick stretch of the legs. 

Manistee River Special Area-

For those wishing to hike without trails, the 7,900 acre area will provide that opportunity. 

Areas for Day Hiking at Manistee River

Backpacking

The Manistee River Trail -
The Manistee River Trail follows the east shore of the Manistee River for 8.8 miles through rolling hills.  The trail traverses past several wetlands and there are bridges crossing two creeks.  A waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers.  The Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail connector is also the site of the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan.  Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with vista views of the Manistee River and surrounding area.  There are several dispersed campsites along the trail.
 

North Country National Scenic Trail -

A 23-mile loop trail is formed with the Manistee River Trail along the Manistee River.  The loop trail can be accessed from the Marilla and Upper Branch Trailheads for the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Red Bridge and Seaton Creek accesses for the Manistee River Trail.

The portion of the trail between Blacksmith Bayou and High Bridge, along the Manistee River, is a signed interpretive trail and is maintained in partnership with trail volunteers.

The North Country National Scenic Trail also passes below and west of Sawdust Hole. 

Bear Creek -

A short, 1/4 mile walk is located along Bear Creek at the Bear Creek River Access Site for those wanting a quick stretch of the legs. 

Manistee River Special Area-

For those wishing to hike without trails, the 7,900 acre area will provide that opportunity. 

Areas for Backpacking at Manistee River

Disc Golf

Udell Rollways hosts an 18-hole disc golf course, as well as scenic views of the Manistee Recreation River and a group picnic pavilion. 

Areas for Disc Golf at Manistee River

Picnicking

Picnicking is a popular activity that is permitted anywhere on the National Forests.  The sites listed below have picnic areas with tables or shelters that are available for visitors to use.  Some sites have pedestal grills, beaches or other amenities.

Areas for Picnicking at Manistee River

Boating - Motorized

Motorized boating is allowed on the Manistee National Recreation River.  Access sites listed below have launches suited to putting a motorized boat into the river. 

Areas for Boating - Motorized at Manistee River

Boating - Non-Motorized

The Manistee River between Tippy Dam and the M-55 Bridge was designated as a National Recreational River in 1996. The river is wide and characterized by steep banks and sharp bends, with a swift current and mostly slow, wide bends.

Areas for Boating - Non-Motorized at Manistee River

Tubing

The Manistee River between Tippy Dam and the M-55 Bridge was designated as a National Recreational River in 1996. The river is wide and characterized by steep banks and sharp bends, with a swift current and mostly slow, wide bends.

Areas for Tubing at Manistee River

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Neither the Manistee River Trail nor the North Country National Scenic Trail are groomed.  Most of the sites are not cleared in the winter and are not maintained.  However, those wishing to snowshoe or ski ungroomed trails are welcome to access either trail during the winter months. 

The Manistee River Trail -
The Manistee River Trail follows the east shore of the Manistee River for 8.8 miles through rolling hills.  The trail traverses past several wetlands and there are bridges crossing two creeks.  A waterfall near the northern end of the trail is very popular with many hikers.  The Manistee River Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail connector is also the site of the largest wooden suspension bridge in Lower Michigan.  Several observation sites along the trail provide hikers with vista views of the Manistee River and surrounding area.  There are several dispersed campsites along the trail.
 

North Country National Scenic Trail -

A 23-mile loop trail is formed with the Manistee River Trail along the Manistee River.  The loop trail can be accessed from the Marilla and Upper Branch Trailheads for the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Red Bridge and Seaton Creek accesses for the Manistee River Trail.

Manistee River Special Area -

For those wishing to snowshoe without trails, the 7,900 acre area will provide that opportunity. 

Areas for XC Skiing/Snowshoeing at Manistee River

Amenities

Camping trailer: Seation Creek Campground
Picnic tables: All
Tent camping: Government Landing, Red Bridge, Sawdust Hole, Seaton Creek, Manistee River Primitive Campsites
Parking: All
Toilets: All
Fee charged for some activities: See Fee Description
Accessible: Rainbow Bend, High Bridge
Boat ramp: Blacksmith Bayou, Red Bridge, High Bridge, Bear Creek
Drinking water: Red Bridge, Seaton Creek

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
46 Miles