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Sturgeon River in Michigan

Trip Overview

Headed up to Wolverine Michigan. We stayed at the Haackwood campground and if you go to the back right of the campground, you will be closest to the river. We were at site 16 which was next to the trail to get down to the water. Was a nice campsite and not real busy.

The first day we drove down into Wolverine and put our boats in at the town park and floated down to our camp site. There are 1',2' and 3' drops where dams were and were very fun to go down... this is a super fast river with tons of turns and twists this is not a lazy river what so ever.

That run from Wolverine park to our campsite was about 1 1/2- 2 hour trip. One of us brought a bicycle and rode the bike trail into town to retrieve the van. NOTE: The bike trail is super creepy and very remote. Came upon some deer on the trail. Probably would've felt safer riding on the side of the road.

The next day we started our kayak trip on the sturgeon at out campsite and floated all the way to Burt's Lake. Warning!! This river is so fast that once I got in the current there was no messing around... it was paddle for your live or be consumed by the river. In the first 15 minutes I wasn't even able to take a sip out of my drink! You are constantly paddling and steering. Seems out of every curve, it would spin your boat around so it was more work physically to paddle. At one point there were a bunch of boaters pulled over looking at a huge bald eagle and we tried to stop too but the current was too have to make decisions fast, think fast, move fast.

At one point we had just gone through some hairy areas of steering around downed trees in the curves and came out to a quieter place in the woods where the current slowed and realized one of the people from our group was missing...I turned my boat around and began paddling in place watching for her to come around the corner any minute and she never did. I was forced to beach my boat and follow the bank up the river when I suddenly heard screams for help! I was so scared fearing the worst for my friend and when I rounded the last corner and got to her, she was waist deep in water, kayak filled to the brim and saw 3 other kayakers in the water who stopped to help my friend but the girl in their group got her yak up against a tree and sunk hers too, she was the one screaming for help and seemed shaken up... my friend was calm but I could see she was a little banged up. I reached down to help her and there was a big old dead beaver bobbin right next to us which we weren't expecting.. maybe he fell in too. It took 3 of us to pull the yak up the steep bank as it was full of water.

After everyone was safe we were able to flip the boat over and drain most of the water. Luckily the day before I bought a squirt gun that sucks up water so it worked great for bailing out remaining water. When asked what happened, there was a log under the water and she didn't see it in time, tried to avoid it but reaction was to slow for the speed of the river.

We continued our journey seeing a smaller bald eagle fly over us carrying food... The nature was amazing, the scenic views just beautiful. We came across two people in the water holding their canoe and the woman was very upset because they fell over and said she wanted to be DONE with the river!! LOL! I wondered why someone would take a big canoe down a wild crazy twist turn river like this, no wonder they tipped! We determined they were okay and we paddled on.

At one point a pack of 4 dogs came running out to the rivers edge by some houses barking at us and followed us through 5 or 6 yards and the river narrowed and got shallow and one of the dogs actually came into the water at my friend and I was about to paddle the dog with my paddle as I came up behind my friend when he finally left us alone. Never saw anyone come out for their dogs or call them. I would've squirted them with my squirt gun but again, the river is so fast there's no time to "mess around" you are always looking ahead at obstacles to conquer.

We made it to the channel which was much calmer than the river and paddled out into the lake which was very choppy. We stayed to the right and headed to shore. I felt so tiny in my 10' kayak in that lake. With the boats going by and the waves... I felt like a tiny little bobber in the water but it was also fun riding a few of the waves to shore, it was like surfing in my kayak! We ended up on the beach at a dead end street next to a park.

The whole trip took about 5 1/2 hours and one of us found a ride back to our camp with another kayaking party since we had no "chase car" with us. This river is great for people who are EXPERIENCED! I would NOT recommend this river to someone who is just starting out kayaking as I had to use just about every skill I have ever learned in the last four years of kayaking to get through this river. I was sore for a few days in the shoulders, arms and hands from gripping my paddle so tight but it was worth it!


Nicely mowed campsites. Fire pit provided for use. Pitcher pump available for fresh water and the bathrooms seemed pretty new and had toilet paper at all times and there is a dumpster provided at the entrance area. The site is remote except for hearing road traffic in the distance once in a while. Could hear wildlife walking around in the woods at night.


You need a park sticker to stay here. The Park Ranger does drive around and check up on the sites to make sure you paid at the self serve station at the park entrance.


131 N to M-55. M-55 East to US-127 N towards Grayling. Merged onto I-75 N

Take exit 301 toward Cheboygan County C58/Wolverine

Left on Main St; Turn right onto S Straits Hwy 1.9 miles arrive to:

Haakwood State Forest Campground
11000 S Straits Hwy
Wolverine, MI 49799

  • 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