Midwest & The Great Lakes

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Illinois
Middle Fork of the Vermilion River
Illinois Department of Conservation,
524 South Second Street, Springfield, IL 62701
A prairie river reverting to a natural landscape after over 100 years of agricultural use. The Middle Fork of the Vermilion corridor contains unusual flora and fauna and a wide variety of recreational opportunities.
Total Miles: 17.1, Scenic: 17.1,

Michigan
Au Sable River
Huron-Manistee National Forest
421 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601
This short stretch of river preserves only a small portion of one of Michigan's most popular canoeing
rivers. The Au Sable is one of America's most productive trout fisheries.
Total Miles: 23, Scenic: 23

Bear Creek
Huron-Manistee National Forest
421 S. Mitchell Street, Cadillac, MI 49601
The lower 6.5 miles of Bear Creek meanders through lush swamps, roiling hills and farm land. Limited access and developments enhance the pristine scenery. There are healthy populations of both resident trout and anadramous steelhead and salmon.
Total Miles: 6.5, Scenic: 6.5

Black River
Ottawa National Forest
2100 E. Cloverland Drive, Ironwood, MI 49938
The Black River provides visitors with outstanding scenery, unique geographical features, superb fisheries, cultural history, and abundant recreational opportunities. The many waterfalls, rapids, and gorge-like landscapes combined with a mix of old large hemlock and eastern white pine along this river has long been recognized as a distinctive resource.
Total Miles: 14, Scenic: 14

Carp River
Hiawatha National Forest
The Carp River flows through predominately forested land with little development along its way. Spring's high water facilitates canoeing and offers steelhead fishing and dipping for smelt near the rivers mouth. Summer is the time for brook or brown trout and fall brings salmon fishing.
Total Miles: 27.8, Wild: 12.4, Scenic: 9.3, Recreational: 6.1

East Branch of the Tahquamenon River
Hiawatha National Forest
2727 N. Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829
The East Branch of the Tahquamenon River is a high quality brook trout stream that rewards persistent anglers who overcome the dense alder along much of its length.
Total Miles: 13.2, Wild: 3.2, Recreational: 10

Indian River
Hiawatha National Forest
The Indian River provides a variety of beautiful scenery from canyon like banks and sharp meandering curves to broad marshland reaches. Trout fishing is good and there is spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, plus eagle and osprey habitat. Obstructed waters require frequent portage for canoeist downstream from Steuben.
Total Miles: 51, Scenic: 12, Recreational: 39

Manistee River
Huron-Manistee NationalForest
The lower Mansitee River is a slow, wide river that meanders through rolling hills and rich marsh land teaming with wildlife. The Manistee River is very popular for its excellent fishing, particularly for salmon, as well as for quality boating and scenery.
Total Miles: 26, Recreational: 26

Ontonagon River
Ottawa National Forest
In this true backcountry setting, the gorgelike landscape, exposed sandstone cliffs, and waterfalls provide a unique recreational area for the mid-western United States. The river also has excellent native brown trout, Lake Superior run salmon, and a steelhead fishery.
Total Miles: 157.4, Wild: 42.9, Scenic: 41, Recreational: 73.5

Paint River
Ottawa National Forest
The main branch of the Paint River System is an excellent year-long canoe route. The brook and rainbow trout fishing is excellent. The historical use of this river for log drives provides many historical interpretive opportunities.
Total Miles: 51, Recreational: 51

Pere Marquette River
Huron-Manistee National Forest
Wandering gently through overhanging bluffs and across the grassy floodplains of central Michigan, this is one of the finest trout streams of the Midwest.
Total Miles: 66.4, Scenic: 66.4,

Pine River
Huron-Manistee National Forest
The lower 26 miles of the Pine River wind swiftly through a deeply cut channel with heavily forested upland, offering high quality fishing, small craft boating, and outstanding scenery.
Total Miles: 25, Scenic: 25

Presque Isle River
Ottawa National Forest
Portions of this river system are listed as the most challenging whitewater river in Michigan, if not in the midwest, by Canoe Magazine. This river is listed as one of the 10 North American Rivers that "defines the outer edge of contemporary whitewater paddling."
Total Miles: 57, Scenic: 19, Recreational: 38

Sturgeon River
Hiawatha National Forest
Early summer and late fall are the best times to canoe the Sturgeon River. Two rapids challenge canoeist. Elusive brown trout, steelhead, and salmon challenge anglers.
Total Miles: 43.9, Scenic: 21.7, Recreational: 22.2

Sturgeon River
Ottawa National Forest
This river flows through a narrow, dissected, gorgelike valley with an average depth of 200-300 feet. Valley walls have slopes of 50-90 percent and the river flows through the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness.
Total Miles: 25, Wild: 16.5, Scenic: 8.5

Whitefish River
Hiawatha National Forest
The Whitefish River is cold, swift, and deep in the early spring to challenge canoeist and provides a good steelhead fishery. During the summer, much of the river becomes too shallow for canoeing, but offers fishing for brook trout in the upper reaches and a variety of warmwater species downstream from the junction of the east and west branches.
Total Miles: 33.6, Scenic: 31.5, Recreational: 2.1

Yellow Dog River
Ottawa National Forest
The Yellow Dog River drops 240 feet through numerous outcrops and cascades within the McCormick Wilderness. Surrounding vegetation consists of large eastern white pine, eastern hemlock, sugar maple, northern red oak, and other old growth northern hardwood species.
Total Miles: 4, Wild: 4

Minnesota
Lower Saint Croix River
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,
Centennial Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,
P.O. Box 450, Madison, WI 53701
Jointly administered by the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the last 25 miles of the St. Croix is a wide, gently flowing river that ends at the Mississippi
Total Miles: 25, Recreational: 25
• See also: "Cruising the Saint Croix"

Missouri
Eleven Point River
Mark Twain National Forest
This spring-fed stream meanders past limestone bluffs and crystal clear springs in Missouri's Ozark hills. The Eleven Point is an outstanding river for canoeing and fishing.
Total Miles: 44.4, Scenic: 44.4

Nebraska
Missouri River
Niobrara/Missouri National Scenic Riverways
This Missouri component consists of two separate segments: from Fort Randall Dam downstream to the backwaters of Lewis and Clark Lake and from Gavins Point Dam downstream to Ponca State Park. These are amongst the last free-flowing segments of the once "Mighty Mo" and still exhibit the river's dynamic character in its islands, bars, chutes, and snags.
Total Miles: 98, Recreational: 98

Niabrara River
Niobrara/Missouri National Scenic Riverways
Perhaps the epitome of a prairie river, the Niobrara is known as a biological crossroads. Although traversing primarily private land, it also flows by the Ft. Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and the largest single holding of The Nature Conservancy where American bison have been reintroduced. The upper portion provides excellent canoeing below Valentine.
Total Miles: 103, Scenic: 70, Recreational: 33
Ohio
Big and Little Darby Creeks
State of Ohio
Total Miles: 85.9, Scenic: 85.9

Little Beaver Creek
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves,
Fountain Square, Columbus, OH 43224
This stream system and surrounding valley near the Pennsylvania border contain some of Ohio's wildest lands.
Total Miles: 33, Scenic: 33

Little Miami River
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves,
Fountain Square, Columbus, OH 43224
Flowing through a deep gorge, wooded bluffs, and rolling farmlands, this popular Ohio stream is easily reached from Cincinnati or Dayton.
Total Miles: 94, Scenic: 18, Recreational: 76

Wisconsin
Saint Croix River
Chequamegon National Forest
1170 - 4th Avenue South, Park Falls, Wl 54552
National Park Service,
P.O. Box 708, St. Croix Falls, Wl 54024
About 200 miles of the beautiful St. Croix River and Namekagon tributary make up this area.
Total Miles: 200, Scenic: 181, Recreational: 19

Lower Saint Croix River
National Park Service,
P.O. Box 708, St. Croix Falls, Wl 54024
Recreational opportunities for much of the upper Midwest are provided along this 27-mile stretch of the St. Croix.
Total Miles: 27, Scenic: 12, Recreational: 15

Wolf River
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin,
P.O. Box 397, Keshena, Wl 54135
Noted as one of the most scenic and rugged rivers in the Midwest, the Wolf flows through the Menominee Reservation. NOT DEVELOPED FOR PUBLIC USE
Total Miles: 24, Scenic: 24

Definitions of the terms; "Wild, Scenic, and Recreational."

Contrary to what you might think, these terms don't describe the character of the river. Wild doesn't mean it's a wicked and foamy stretch of whitewater, and scenic doesn't mean it's a pastoral float. Rather, it's all about accessibility. Here's what the government says. . . Wild; this river is accessible only by trail, is undeveloped and generally is unpolluted.
Scenic; this river can be accessed by some roads but is mainly still a trail access river.
Recreational; this river has been developed along the shoreline and is easily accessible by roads, trails not necessary.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 11 Nov 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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