My wife and I had been trying to find the time/excuse to take a trip and get on the water. Since it was Fathers day weekend, I convinced (really begged) my wife, Friday afternoon, that we should get away. After doing my best to make her feel guilty, she made some phone calls and rearranged her schedule. We finally got everything loaded up and left home in north-central Indiana about 9:30 Friday night.
After spending the night in Holland, we continued to the Baldwin ranger station. The ladies at the station were very informative and helpful about all the rivers in the area. They gave us free literature about the different rivers and which livery services work each river. Due to time of day and the information the ladies shared with us, we decided to go talk to the people at Enchanted Acres Canoe & Campground in Irons.
The folks at Enchanted Acres were great. They gave us more information about the Little Manistee, seemed to know a lot of the owners of the private land along the river and told us where we could camp on the river that night. They said that they had spent a week last year helping to clear blockages and deadfalls from the river. They also implied that they knew pretty much every foot of the river. After agreeing to a price of $25 to shuttle our vehicle, we were ready to go.
They dropped us, our kayaks and camping gear off at Spencer Bridge (5 mile rd.) then took our truck to the Fox Bridge (Big Bass Lake rd.) takeout. My wife and I loaded our boats and tookoff. It didn't take us long to realize we were in for an adventure.
This river is narrow, winding, fast, and FUN! It is always running fast and you never know what is around the curve. I wouldn't suggest it for first time kayaker/canoers, it could definitely be dangerous. It was obvious that they spent a lot of time opening the river up last year, however, they only made about a 4ft. cut through the deadfalls. Even as intermediate paddlers, we had trouble fighting the current and get through the path.
We also felt our boats were plenty long for this river (14.5ft Wilderness & 13.5 ft. Carolina Perception). I would not recommend taking any boats that you are real proud of and don't want scratched up. They/you will get scratched and bruised.
Overall it was a great weekend on a fun river.
Wilderness 14.5 & Carolina Perception 13.5
$25 Shuttle fee