Bear Creek Scenic River

Area Status: Open

Bear Creek

There is only 3.5 miles of Bear Creek located on the National Forest. The remainder is on private property. This river is a designated national scenic study river and is great for cold water fishing. Bear Creek was added as a Scenic River in 1996, at the same time the Manistee River was designated a National Scenic River. The only Forest Service access for the river is at Bear Creek.

Bear Creek contains many unique wetland communities, floodplain marshes, swamp forested bottomlands, braided channels and large amounts of natural woody debris.  Many wildlife species, such as,  wood turtles, hawks, waterfowl, and many species of songbirds, find fairly isolated nesting habitat along Bear Creek.  What makes Bear Creek unique to recreationists is the rare opportunity to experience solitude and challenge in an undeveloped river setting.  Many paddlers who seek a leisurely trip through meandering narrows and broad flat wetlands will appreciate this area.  Fishing is particularly heavy at the junction with the Manistee River.  The corridor for the river provides a peaceful experience in a natural, densely vegetated river setting.  Vegetation overhangs the shoreline, contributing to a feeling of seclusion, a rare commodity in rivers in the Lower Peninsula.  The stream meanders through many types of landscapes and riverine ecosystems.  Around every bend, visitors are treated to a wide variety of sights and sounds, swamps, marshes and a sinuous river channels that combine to offer visitors a glance of an unmodified river.

Click here for additional information on our Wild and Scenic Rivers.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless otherwise posted.
Area Amenities: Boat ramp,Parking
Fees: Recreation Enhancement Act Fee - Day Use -
  • Bear Creek River Access
Permit Info: Special Use Permit -
  • No special use permit is required for individuals or small groups (74 people or less).
  • Permits are required for commercial, event or large groups (75 people or more).
Visit the Passes and Permits section for more information on obtaining a special use permit.
Open Season: January 1 - December 31
Usage: Light
Restrictions: As a visitor to the National Forest, you are asked to follow certain rules designed to protect the Forest, natural resources and to provide for public safety of visitors. These 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: Brethren
Operated By: Cadillac Manistee Ranger District - (231) 577-8902
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

County - Manistee 


River and Stream Fishing

Fishing Mode Shore, Wade
Special Designations National Scenic Study River
Fish Species Brown Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Salmon, Steelhead
Fishing Platform No
Cleaning Station No
Water Temperature Cold
Accessible Platform No
Fishing Method Fly, Pole
Water/Flow Level 2 mph

Boating - Non-Motorized

Trailer Parking No
Class of rapids 0
Size Restrictions None
Type of Craft Kayak
Water/Flow Level 2 mph
Marina/Mooring No
Difficulty Level: Intermediate


Parking: Bear Creek River Access
Boat ramp: Carry-in, Back-in

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
3.5 miles