We paddled from the bridge just up river from the Bear Tracks Campground named 18 Mile Bridge but located near 9 1/2 Mile Rd. or 10 Mile Road. (The naming of the roads are confusing at this bridge). Parking is limited so we typically take a mountain bike with us and one of us stays with the boats while the other one drives the car to the ending site (6 Mile Bridge) and bikes back to the beginning. We ditch the bike in the woods, locking it to a tree, and then come back for it after our paddling run.
The Little Manistee River has seen a lot of rain this summer and the water levels were pretty high. We had never paddled this stretch before and we thinking it was going to be a pretty calm and relaxing ride but we had some challenges.
On at least two occasions there were logs blocking the entire width of the river. The first time the log was at least 4 inches above the waterline and the water was too deep to stand up in, so I pulled up to the log, sat upon it, while I hauled my boat over it, then dropped back in.
Many of the other situations we were able to paddle hard and then skootch across when we got hung up. The most painful one was a log with many branches and when I shot between them I got lodged between them due to the width of my boat. I was able to grab a branch and reef on it to get to the other side but have been paying for it for a week now, with a very sore shoulder.
The only other challenges were the mosquitos which were busy but we were doused with dope so there are some days when only DEET will do, and this appeared to be one of them.
no fees, but parking is limited at 18 Mile Bridge
From Manistee, We took Stronach Rd. to Custer Rd (right) to S. County Line Road/Riverside Dr. (left) to 10 Mile Rd (Left).
6 Mile intersects County Line Road as well and is on the way back. It's a 5 mile bike ride between points.
Jerry Dennis' "Canoing Michigan Rivers" is my paddling bible.