Bear River packrafting in Petosky, Michigan

The beautiful Bear River in Petosky, Michigan is the only class 3 whitewater in the lower peninsula. Although the rapids are short (half mile) they are nonstop fun, dropping 66 fpm, manageable for rookies with a quality PFD and helmet, runnable most of the year, and there is a picturesque multi-use trail (part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, with both paved and dirt options) back to the “put in”, so it can be run as many times as you wish.

It’s situated in the charming harbor town of Petosky, MI, which boasts a gorgeous bay and marina, a 17 mile paved rails to trails path to Charlevoix (another quaint harbor town featuring the famed “mushroom houses” designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). This area is home to countless epic cycling routes including a route to the Mackinac bridge via the “tunnel of trees” along the bluffs of Lake Michigan, rides on the car-free historic Mackinac Island, and around the crystal clear Torch Lake and Lake Charlevoix.
Also a 30 minute drive from some respectable class 2 water on the Sturgeon river.

It’s also a 90 minute drive from the very popular resort town of Traverse City, which also boasts a fine rails to trails bike path network, some nice class 2 rapids on the Boardman River, as well as a booming bicycle wine tour industry, and is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore voted “the most beautiful place in America” by Good Morning America in 2011.

Directions: You may park at the takeout which is just upstream from the dam, along Quaintance Ave in Bear River Park. Or you can park on Porter Street near corner of Curtis Ave. There’s an entrance to Bear River Park at that corner. Walk about 100 yards in the park until you reach the paved North Country Trail. Head to the right on the NCT for about 50 yards and you will see a green sign posting whitewater safety reminders. The sign is next to the put in.

45.367926,-84.963911 put in

45.373317,-84.961049 take out

Video of our Bear River excursion September 2015:

Looks fun, we tried to spot it from the car summer 2014. There were too few signs for us to locate it for a look-see.
We’ll come back with packraft.

I want whitewater at high levels but won’t go alone. Dry suit and gear ready. Avail for lower or UP, live in Chicago and it’s an easy drive to WI and UP.

The only good white water in the lower but its nice. Ran it this spring for the first time had a blast.

Hey xrayhowe where u guys from? I’ve never meant another pack rather or for that matter seen a raft I haven’t bought. I’m near tawas. What time of year did u run that? I went early April levels were above 250 if memory serves.