7 brave souls headed out on a 5 day trip on the Fox and Manistique River. Based on our Intel pulled from some very spotty internet reports, first hand fisherman stories and the local outfitters we were expecting a nice float, some obstructions but no portages. We were woefully mistaken. It turned into one of those trips where looking back it was a blast, during the thick of it not so much.
Day 1-Sun June 28th
We loaded up my newly built 8 boat Kayak trailer and headed out. Trailer was built by my father and is one very nice bit of gear, rock solid with plenty of room for gear and boats, better than most outfitters. We pulled into Seney Township Park just as the skies opened up, got to unload gear in the rain and were greeted by hordes of mosquitoes. Did some car shuttling so the trailer ended up at the Cedar Road Landing in Manistique. Recommend the park, nice camping area for tenting, quiet.
Day 2-Mon June 29th
Headed out and ran into the first of many obstacles. Found the river completely blocked by a downed tree. One of our group had a sit on top and was able to get out and haul his boat over, the rest of us had to get out and get wet and muddy and haul the boats up on the bank. The bank along the Fox are like quicksand in many places. One of us managed to sink past their knee in the muck, good times. We found the river had obstruction around every bend, most of the obstructions required getting out of the boat and hauling the boats over the quick sand banks. A good portion is badly overgrown with tag alder thickets.
Late in the day exhausted after hauling boats in and out we started looking for campsites and ran into a reoccurring issue. There is very limited camping spots along the river. Most of the banks are mucky, wetland or are straight up sheer banks were you need a block and tackle to haul gear and boats up. We ended up finding a mostly dry site.
I had managed to flip my boat after getting caught up in tag alder thickets so I got to test out my water proofing. Everyone managed to flip their boat at least once before the trip ended.
Day 3-Tues June 30th
The highlight of this day was running the spreads (area of the river where it spreads out into a bunch of small channels), the channel I went down was a blast high banks of shrubs and fast water felt like a log flume ride. After spending the day getting in and out of crotch deep cold water, getting rained on and in general being overcast and cool we were all getting borderline hypothermic. Didnt realize how cold we were till we pulled off to camp. A hot shower and hot meal later I was still shivering, kind of scary.
We ended up camping at Northland Outfitters campground, nice spot friendly owners. Had a nice meal in the only restaurant in Germfask. One couple in a canoe never showed up, we got kind of worried. Found out later they decided to pull off early as the gentlemans girlfriend was in the early stages of hypothermia. He managed to pull a canoe and gear up a sheer bank and get her warmed back up in the tent with the help of portable heater.
Day 4- Wed July 1st
We hung around the campground till 11:00, the couple in the canoe never showed back up. Found out later in the day via river grapevine they were ok and had the outfitters haul them up the river rather than try to catch back up.
Past Germfask, the Fox and Manistique river join up, float was nice and easy, nice scenery. As opposed to the Fox River the outfitters can and do maintain the river. Found a nice sandy bank to camp. Aside from the horrendous mosquitos nice spot to camp.
Day 5-Thur July 2nd
Nice easy day, river slowed down some on Manistique. Camped at a National Forest Service Campground. Hooked back up with our canoe couple who had spent the last two days chilling at the campground. Pulled water from the shadiest hand pump I have ever used. Pump had a trickle of water coming out of the well and the inner working had ceased up, you just had to improvise a collection system and wait. Had a nice night aside from all the RVs pulling in at 1 am.
Day 6- Fri July 3rd
Got an early start on the river, got to see an eagle and pair of Sandhill cranes. River slows down and widens out, easy going. Made it to Manistique, loaded up and headed back to the real world.
None for river or camping along river.
Camping fees at organized campgrounds
Head up 75 north, cross the Mackinaw Bridge, Take US-2 to Manistique
Best river map source is from Northland Outfitters.