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Pigeon River in Michigan

Trip Overview

My Tsunami 125 had arrived!! It was beautiful. And it was untested.

Even though it was spring, and work was calling, I worked the phones until finally my friend Shane called back and indeed could do a Monday float.

We chose the Pigeon river from Pigeon River Rd. to the mouth at Mullet lake. We spotted his car and went to the Launch under windy conditions and clear skies. What followed was a romp. While the nearby Sturgeon river boasts the fastest overall flow in Michigan's lower peninsula, this stretch of the Pigeon is by far faster and with bigger, albeit still class II rapids. I think some would be Class III in April runoff.

The river is fast over limestone cobbles with long straight ramps that stretch on for half a mile, stiff chutes over old dams, dinner table sized rocks to avoid etc. In the lower reaches rapids mixed with beaver activity - we had to portage at least a dozen times, one portage being over 300'. The beaver have re-routed the river, making this the most challenging section as you have to maneuver through tight spaces between chewed off tree stumps.

We saw eagles, deer, terns, wood ducks etc.

If you go - do not under estimate this river. If it is flowing high enough there are several areas that could get you in trouble and access is limited. Most of the bank is private property.

The local canoe outfitters do not run this stretch and so it is not cleared of strainers and beaver activity. The best times are April thru early June or after significant rainfall. After that you'll spend too much time knuckle dragging your boat over rough cobbles. Bring bug spray, as the mosquitoes are fierce.

Do not miss this exciting stretch of Lower Michigan river.


Numerous in Indian River. State Park campground, motels etc., diners,fast food, gas. Go to Pat and Gary's downtown for gear and fishing supplies.




M-68 East out of Indian River to Afton Rd, Then south on Afton a few miles, left at 4 corners onto Pigeon River Rd. to bridge. Takeout is at mouth at Clement Rd. Consult a map


"Canoeing Michigan Rivers" by Jerry Dennis and Craig Date

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip