We are day-trippers and not as adventurous as some. We paddle a 17 we-no-nah Spirit II Kevlar (not exactly a canoe for small rivers). That being said, we were looking for something to do near Harrison, Michigan and came upon a livery on the Cedar River, appropriately named the Cedar River Canoe and Campground (it has a Beaverton address). We needed a livery to get us back to our car.
After calling the livery to make sure they would be able to shuttle us back to our car, we put ourselves in at North Park (43 5911.62 N 84 3004.11 W) in Gladwin at about 9:30am. From North Park it was about a 4.5 hour trip to the Cedar River Campground (at a very leisurely paddle, with a few stops).
We were on the River in September and the water level was not very high it is controlled by a dam on Wiggins Lake. Between Gladwin and the Campground, the Cedar River is winding and the water is extremely clear.
As soon as you leave Gladwin the river passes through Gladwin State Park and the banks are natural and without development for the majority of the trip. It is important to watch for ripples that tell of rocks or trees just under the surface, but there is nothing that will cause more than a dent or a scrape. When the water is low it is a good idea to stick to the outside of bends in the river, often the water to the inside would be less than 4 inches deep while the outer bend would be 2 to 6 or 8 feet.
The Cedar is packed full of fish from bass, various small trout to large Browns and even an occasional 18 to 25 inch carp. You cant do this stretch of river without seeing literally dozens and dozens of fish!
There are four or five stretches of the river with sandy banks and bottom that looked perfect for pulling over and taking a swim I think we will be back next year and give it a try. The current was neither fast nor slow, between 1.5 and 4.5 mph according to my GPS.
I think my wife and I would agree this was the most fun, most pleasant, honestly, most enjoyable river we have been on. That designation may not last, but it tops the list right now.
From US-27, take old 27 exit near Harrison, and go east on M-61 to Hoover Rd. Turn Left, and continue until you reach river.