Sturgeon River Canoe Trail

The Sturgeon River canoe trail starts 3 miles west of Forest Highway 13 at County Road 440 near the Alger-Delta County line. This is approximately 35 miles east of Rapid River, and 44 miles west of Manistique. The trail is 41 miles in length and has 6 access points. Most lands along the Sturgeon River are National Forest lands, but private properties exist. If you intend to camp, check your map to be sure you do not trespass on private property. There are primitive camping areas and one developed campground. Waterfowl and deer sightings are common. Brown trout fishing is best north of US 2. Steelhead, brook trout, and salmon also frequent the river.

The best time to canoe the Sturgeon River is when the water is high, between April 30 and the end of June, or after mid-September.

The Sturgeon River is a relatively slow moving river with many meanders. Fallen trees and heavy brush occasionally block the river and require portaging. Two areas of rapids and rock riffles add excitement to the trip.

In early spring, the river can be deep, swift, cold, and dangerous for inexperienced canoeists. Wear a life jacket. Extra clothes, food, bedding, and matches should be in waterproof bags tied into the canoe. Leave a trip plan at home.

River Access
(Access 1 to Access 2) County Road 440 to 442—This is recommended as an overnight trip. There is a long stretch of private lands. There are no intermediate access points. This is the most remote section of the river. Rocky riffles in the last two miles and many log jams and heavy brush may necessitate either liftover or portaging.

(Access 2 to Access 3) County Road 442 to Bridge on Forest Highway 13—The entire river course lies within National Forest lands. A few log jams require liftover or portaging, but in general, this section is easy going. No intermediate access points are on this stretch.

(Access 3 to Access 4) Forest Highway 13 to Flowing Well Campground—The entire river course is within National Forest lands. This is a good trip for those camping at the Flowing Well Campground. Ten mile rapids offers a challenge, and care should be taken by the inexperienced canoer.

(Access 4 to Access 5) Flowing Well Campground to County Road 497—This is a good trip for those camping at the Flowing Well Campground. There is one mile of private property above US 2.

(Access 5 to Access 6) County Road 497 to Big Bay de Noc—Private property lies along the last mile of the river on the east. The river is extremely meandering with log jams and shallows that make portaging necessary. Channel is often choked with fallen trees and debris and this stretch is not highly recommended for canoeing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 26 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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