Before I started working in the summer, my dad got together with one of his old friends and planned out an Across-the-State Canoe trip as a duo father-son expedition. As it turned out, his friend's son broke his arm and we ended up going by ourselves. Having extended experience on the AuSable River in Northern Michigan, we decided to paddle this river upstream from Oscoda to Grayling. The workout was very tough but very rewarding with endless hours of uninterrupted beauty on the river. The upstream stretch took 10 days, but we did not push ourselves to exhaustion to finish and we were delayed to a few hours paddling on three days due to torrential downpours/lightning.
When we finally reached Grayling, we hoisted the canoe with our gear and began the 5-mile trek to the beginning of the Manistee River, which runs from Grayling to Manistee (on Lake Michigan). The trip downriver was less eventful and certainly easier, but for a few spots. Be wary coming out of the dams. Heavy rapids to face in a racing canoe in a few spots and a rock that actually flipped my dad out of the canoe. The next dam has a bend called suicide bend, which inspired us to check the latches on the lifejackets. Suicide Bend was a joke, however, no worries there. We finished our trip in July and to this day, our trip across the state remains my most valued canoe experience ever.
We used an old early 80's era pro racing boat and an amatuer boat(help provided) for the bigger ponds on the rough weather days.
Depending on where you camp. Fees are minimal (3 dollars/day. A permit can be bought ahead of time for state campgrounds, but don't expect to pay much for it.