Pine River Information

Nestled in a deep river valley and flowing predominantly through the Manistee National Forest, the Pine River beckons canoers, kayakers, and rafters from across the nation to experience its unspoiled beauty.

Come experience the magnificent forested riverscape, pure spring water, wildlife viewing opportunities, and that wonderful waltz with craft and current experienced on the Pine River. Don't say we didn't warn you, paddling the Pine River can be a tough habit to kick.

With several access sites and riverside campgrounds, you can spend a day paddling the Pine River or choose a multi-day trip. Whether you prefer to paddle a quieter stretch of river, a section with more rapids than any river in the Lower Peninsula, or some combination of the two, the Pine River accommodates paddlers of all experience and skill levels.

Spend a day on the Pine River's waters with paddle in hand, enjoy a refreshing swim, hike on the riverside pathway, go trout fishing, or just wiggle your toes in the sand while soaking up the sun and the scenic beauty, and you'll understand why kids of all ages continue to give the Pine River such rave reviews.

Families and groups planning to paddle or hike the Pine River watershed area of the Huron-Manistee National Forest may want to print and bring along our Bird & Wildlife Checklist. With so many native species in the area, our checklist provides a handy way keep track of them all. Encourage the budding naturalists in your group with a competition to see who can spot the most species. Settle potential disputes with our waterproof Pocket Naturalist Guides available in our store for just $6.95 each.

Some Pine River Vitals

The Pine River enjoys protection through both a Federal Wild & Scenic River Designation and Plan and a Michigan Natural River Designation and Plan. The navigable portion of the Pine is approximately 67 miles in length. At base flow, the mainstream of the Pine River averages two feet in depth. It has an average gradient of 12 feet per mile, and an annual average flow of 376 cubic feet per second.

“Could Saturday have been a better day? It began for us on the Pine River rushing through rapids as water splashed over the sides of our kayaks. With the sun warming us from above, and with the sound of the moving water and the gentle breeze, all senses were engage and pleased. The day ended pounding up and down the Big M trails on our mountain bikes, cycling underneath a canopy of green leaves, nature's cathedral. I can't think of how the day could have been better. Thank you once again for hosting us for our Pine River paddle. You and your staff were charming and extremely helpful”. Erin F.

Pine River Natural History

The primary influence on the Pine River is its geological history. The unique conditions left by the Pleistocene glaciers established the 265 square mile watershed through which the river is continuously carving a new path. Open meander bends offer paddlers a fascinating window into the geologic strata of the area that provide the framework for the plant and animal communities throughout the Pine River valley.

Human History

The earliest evidence of human inhabitants dates to over 10,000 years ago when the nomadic Paleo-Native Americans followed herds of game animals through the area. By 500 BC, a more sedentary lifestyle was established in seasonal hunting and fishing camps where agricultural practices were also developed. The native tribes of Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Chippewa Indians that inhabited the area into the 1800s referred to the Pine as the “crooked river” and “spirit of the woods”. To date there are ninety-seven archaeological sites identified in the Pine River watershed.

Pine River Paddlesports Center