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The Pine River - Luther to Tippe Pond

by  thedes

A self-supported trip created by thedes

Trip Overview

This was my first multi-day tandem canoe trip. It occurred the third week of July 2018 and in Michigan's lower peninsula, it is a great time for good weather and fewer bugs. My partner, Jim, spent the entire trip in the bow of the canoe while I worked from the stern. This was the first time Jim and I tandem paddled together and we have been doing it every July ever since.

Day 1 - My wife Jennifer was kind enough to drop us off at map location #1. Since this was our first time paddling together, Jim and I opted to use Hobie floats strapped across our Yoke, sort of training wheels for a canoe. These floats drag down progress a bit, but they did save us a few times from dumping as we took time to get use to each other's paddling techniques. On our first day, we paddled through a historic portion of the Pine. In May of 1925, Gideon Gerhardt wanted to Trout fish on the Pine River west of Skookum Road. Mr. Gerhardt encountered some barbed wire going across the river with "No Fishing" signs. He climbed over the fence and was sued for trespassing by 120 acre land owner Frank Collins. As the debate worked its way through the court systems, in 1932, Frank Collins and the Ne-Bo-Shone Association were ordered by the State Supreme Court to remove all barriers across the river. In 1936, the United States Supreme Court denied a Collins appeal. As a result, the actions of one man fishing on the Pine, all rivers flowing through private land in the United States are considered navigable unless directed otherwise by the state. A commemorative marker has been placed at Peterson's Landing just upstream from the M-37 Bridge. It is customary to leave six cents that represents the original fee Mr. Gerhardt was fined for the trespass. (sources: "Paddling Michigan's Pine" by Doc Fletcher and the Michigan Legal Milestone website: As we paddled this portion of the river, the Ne-Bo-Shone Association property seem to extend forever on both sides of the river. We passed under a few bridges, some as part of the Ne-Bo-Shone Association property to traverse back and forth to both sides of the river. We did end up floating too close to a wood jam and broke or Hobie bracket.

We improvised a temporary fix that worked for the remainder of this day. We eventually passed under the North State Road bridge and then the Silver Creek State Campground. We disbursed camped at location #2 on the map. Total time = 7 hours 5 minutes. Moving time = 4 hours 45 minutes. Distance = 13.59 miles. Obstacles: Deadfall along the edge of the river, but as long as you paddle in the center, it was ok.

Day 2 - Using the campfire, Jim improvised a fix for our Hobie bracket. HE melted the plastic piece out of the end of the metal tube and cleverly whittled a sticky tree branch to couple the two brackets together. After a hearty breakfast over the campfire and the Hobie fix, we got a late start (about 11ish) paddling. Our destination was #3, the Peterson Bridge Campground at M-37. Lots of rapids with the elevation drops, had a great time throughout the day. Encountered a few obstacles and had to get out of the canoe to navigate it through a small opening not wanting to do additional damage the Hobie setup. Eventually arrived at the campground. Encountered a lot of Poison Ivy around some the campsites close to the river and selected an alternative site a little ways up a hill with some trees for shade and drying lines. After sharing some personal stories and appreciating our good fortune to be in the outdoors, we retired for the evening. Total time = 6 hours 11 minutes. Moving time = 5 hours 15 minutes. Distance = 17.96 miles. Obstacles: Tree down in middle of river with a small cut through of about 3-4 feet.

Day 3 - The day was uneventful. As we arrived towards the end of the Pine River, we began to run into sandbars that required walking while floating the canoe. We then started to paddle the more open water at Tippe Pond where the Pine River empties into the Manistee River. Other than some high speed boats creating some wake and a bit of a head wind, we arrived at Consumers Energy boat launch at #4. Total time = 4 hours 21 minutes. Moving time = 3 hours 33 minutes. Distance = 11.72 miles. Obstacles: Sandbars towards the end of the river where it empties into the Manistee at Tippe Pond.

Safety Notes

Always wear a PFD and let someone know your route and time table for check ins.

Gear Notes

PFD is a must. Some cell coverage limitations. Also, this was a first tandem multi-day trip and we felt we needed to use a Hobie stabilizer float across our Yoke. This provided a bit of insurance as we experienced our tandem paddling team approach and encountering obstacles to avoid dumping with all of our gear.


Water levels seemed normal.

Portage Notes

The entire river was clear with one small passage of about 3-4' with a downed tree. Also, where the Pine River dumps into the Manistee River at Tippe Pond, there were several hundred yards of sand bars that required walking and floating the canoe.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 7/25/2018-7/27/2018
  • Sport/Activity: Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water, River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location