It rained like crazy the day before, and even though it can hardly ever be called a quiet river it was absolutely rippin. Water markers were reading 3. and 3.1 at Beartrack Campground and Nine Mile bridge, extremely high compared to its normal 1. to 1.5.
While relatively easy before Nine Mile bridge, the section between nine mile and six mile bridge could easily eat any beginning paddler. Hairpin turns, combined with logjams, and several short rapids made for an extremely sore following day.
From Beartrack to Six mile bridge it took us 5hrs and 20 mins with 3 to 4, 15 to 20 minute breaks, a relatively short time compared to what should normaly take 7 to 9 hours.
While loading at Six mile a DNR officer who was out looking for renegade fisherman seemed very surprised that we did not have any spills. Normally beginners and sometimes even us, have as many as three to four, but we have been paddling this strech for 10 yrs +.
On normal days there is much wildlife to be seen, bald eagles, deer, blue herons, steelhead salmon and most anything else. Always an excellent trip, though sometimes extremely tiring, and you must always be paying attention or you can end up as I did three weeks ago, in 19 degree weather, upside down, under a log jam, looking into the face of God. Enjoy, but be careful.
No, although some parking does require a permit.
Manistee is in Northwest Michigan near the shores of Lake Michigan. Going up the Little Manistee River there are many put ins and take outs.