Whitefish River Canoe Trail

Gorp.com

The Whitefish River canoe trail offers approximately 28 miles of good canoeing. It offers the canoer not just one trail, but two. The East Branch is approximately 8 miles longer than the West Branch. Two and a half miles south of Forest Road 2236, the two branches converge and flow past the bridge on U.S. 2 and onto the public boat launch site at Rapid River. Deer, waterfowl, and bird sightings (including bald eagles) are common.

In very early spring the river can be deep, swift, and cold. Canoeing at this time can be dangerous and should be left to experienced canoeists wearing wet suits. The best time to canoe is from April 30th, when the river is high and wild, to the end of June, when the water level is low. It may be necessary to tow through some shallow, rocky areas when the water level is low.

There is a mixture of private and National Forest lands all along the course of the river. Be sure to check your map and respect the property rights of others.

River Facts

EAST BRANCH

Access 1—One half mile west of County Road 509 on County Road 00-3 at Trout Lake.
Access 2—One half mile west of County Road 509 on Forest Road 2236.
Access 3—Public boat launch at Rapid River.

Access 1 to Access 2Trout Lake to Forest Road 2236
Length is 11 miles. Float time is 8 hours. Canoe along Trout Lake the first 1 1/2 miles. Below the lake, the route is partly obstructed with brush and leaning cedars. This remote section can be dangerous in high water conditions. There are no intermediate access points. Generally, the river channel is clear, wide and paved with limestone bedrock with few boulders. After you reach the bridge at Forest Road 2236, however, you will encounter several rapids. There are many suitable spots for primitive overnight camping.

Access 2 to Access 3Forest Road 2236 to Public Boat Launch
Length is 18 miles. Float time is 8 hours. This stretch can be canoed through summer and fall, though several shallow areas will require towing. This is a mixture of federal and private lands with no public access points. Private roads should be used only as emergency exits to County Road 509. The final 3-4 miles require strenuous paddling as the current slows considerably. If the winds are from the south, add an hour or so to your trip time because the last 3 miles will be against wind.

WEST BRANCH

Access 1a—3 miles east of U.S. 41 on County Road 444.
Access 2a—4 1/2 miles east of U.S. 41 at Forest Road 2236.
Access 3—Public boat launch at Rapid River.

Access 1a to Access 2aCounty Road 444 to Forest Road 2236
Length is 3 miles. Float time is 1-1 1/2 hours. There is plenty of white water in a normal year between April 1 and May 15, but is exciting until June 1st. The first mile is deep and slow moving. After this point, although floatable much of the time, there is a succession of rapids with constant scraping, wading, and dragging after June 1st. Private lands last half mile.

Access 2a to Access 3Forest Road 2236 to Public Boat Launch at Rapid River
Length is 18 miles. Float time is 8 hours. This stretch of the canoe trail meets the East Branch approximately 3 1/2 miles south of Forest Road 2236. There is no intermediate access at this point. They then continue together to the public boat launch at Rapid River.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 27 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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