The Manistee River runs about 190 miles through northwest Michigan, and enters Lake Michigan at Manistee. There are many smaller sections of river that branch off the Manistee River and Manistee Lake. Historically, the river was renowned for its outstanding graying fishery, but the habitats were ruined from extensive logging in the early 1900s. The 1890s were peak production times for white pine logs. Because of the river's large size and stable water flow, it was an ideal passage for the transportation of lumber. During this time period, huge logs of white pine, some as large as 6 feet in diameter were floated down the river and eventually on to the lumber markets of Grand Rapids, Milwaukee and Chicago. Some of the logs became trapped, and can even be seen today along the river bottom. Today, the Manistee River is used exclusively for recreational activities. After recovering from the havoc caused by the logging, the Manistee River again offers excellent conditions for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
A section of the Manistee River between the Tippy Dam near Wellston and the Village of Mesick offers 30 miles of wildlife and excellent canoeing conditions. It's a good section of river to explore if you have 2-3 days to commit to a canoeing and camping trip. There are plenty of scenic places to camp for the night, and most parts of the river are close to Upper River Road. If you are only looking for a day trip, try the stretch between the Tippy Dam and stop at the Red Bridge River Access, it's about 5 miles long and could be completed in 2-3 hours.
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