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Au Sable River in Michigan - Weekend Trip Report

Trip Overview

Day 1

AuSable River - Grayling to Oscoda

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 5:29 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Activity Type: Paddling | Event Type: Fitness | Course: --
1st Day of 115 mile trip. Started at Penrods Livery in Grayling. Met local couple referred by Penrods and they took my Subaru down stream to Oscoda Park, for $120.00. Got in the water at 5:30pm and went four hours at 5.4 mph moving and max speed of 8.1. Weather was good and had a little rain overnight. Not much in the way of waterfowl, beavers, turtles, or muskrat. The few deer late at night. Solid cabins side by side all the way to Mio Dam. Lots of late day fisherman.
Distance: 21.43 mi
Time: 3:59:12
Avg Pace: 11:10 min/mi
Avg Speed: 5.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 295 ft

Day 2
AuSable River - Grayling to Oscoda
Sat, Jul 2, 2011 5:51 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

First distance day trip of the year over 30 miles, following a 21 mile prior night, wow I could feel it. Ate some summer sausage last night and had an upset stomach. Packed baby carrots, sweet peas, a case of Sobie, beef jerky and the summer sausage. Didn't eat much of anything today, just drank a half dozen sobie. After the Mio Dam the water clarity was incredible for the rest of the trip. I would guess a 10 ft clear view, so much of the stream was very visible. Very few fish, or they were in the tall sawgrass on the shoreline.

My average moving speed was 5.5 with max speed of 12.2 right at mouth of Mio Dam. Had to stop at 2pm and actually took a 1.5 hour nap before heading out at 3:30. Glad I did as my right shoulder needed a well deserved break.

During the main part of the day I estimate around 250 people on the river in just about everything you could imagine. Never have seen anything like it. Met my first pair of racers that blew by me in the pond before Mio. Funny looking flat bottom metal canoe with a pair of young paddlers using a short lightweight paddle switching sides every 3 strokes. I would guess the pace of their paddles was faster than 1 stroke per second. They were in training for a Grayling to Oscoda annual race that is highly touted in these parts.

Had no cell coverage the night before so I planned to camp wherever I could get coverage. Left at 6:30 am and quit just about 9pm near hwy 65. Had 3 cell phone bars and good coverage to call home and check-in.
Note: Advil got wet and had to scoop paste into an empty sobie bottle and portion it out for pain the best I could....remember waterproof pill bottle next time?

Day 3
AuSable River - Grayling to Oscoda
Sun, Jul 3, 2011 6:37 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Had a good night rest and ready to make the final stretch. Got in the water a little later this morning, about 7am. Just under 30 miles to reach Oscoda but it consisted of 4 dams and almost all open water with little current. Average speed was 4.4 and my three day trip average was 5.2. Little wind and no waves helped me keep a decent pace but the 4 portages took a fair amount of time and energy. Still not hungry and upset stomach, just drinking lots of fluid and portions of advil.

After the Foote dam (Thank God it seemed like I would never get out of open water), the last few miles had a decent current. Oscoda livery had several hundred people (floaters) on the river and at times difficult to navigate through.

Reached my destination around 2pm with a total three day distance of 115 miles in 25.20 hours moving. Tops my trip last year from Eaton Rapids to Lowell at 111 miles in a similar Friday to Sunday trip. Glad I did it, but will not go again. The 7 hour car travel to and from (even with the drop assistance) made the trip seem more like work than fun.

The clear river was the highlight of the trip (After Mio Dam) but the limited wildlife can't hold a candle to what I have in local western Michigan rivers. I can mark it off my list.

I have now kayaked from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.


see map and my put in at Penrod's Livery from following link:

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip