Overnight Paddling Trips on the Pine River
We are often asked whether or not overnight paddling trips are allowed on the Pine River. The answer is yes! We help many people paddle multi-day trips on the Pine. In this blog post, I wanted to cover a few basic questions and concerns that most people have when planning their canoe camping trip on the Pine River.
We service the portion of the Pine River from Briar Patch Access Site to Low Bridge Access Site. This is about 12.5 hours of in-the-boat leisurely paddling time, not including stops. If you stop to eat lunch, take some pictures, look for Petoskey stones, etc - that is all going to add on top of the 12.5 hours of paddling time.
Most people take 2 nights and 3 days to paddle the whole river. But again, this is dependent on how much you want to stop, how early you want to get paddling in the morning, how early you want to set up camp, and what time of day you want to start and end your trip. There are lots of variables at play. If you only want to go for 1 night and 2 days, no problem! The multiple access sites along the Pine make is easy to customize the length of trip to your needs.
Some people choose to target campgrounds along the river at which to stay, while others choose to camp along the side of the river. Dispersed camping is allowed, with some stipulations. If you are in the state owned portion of the river (between Briar Patch and Lincoln), you can camp alongside the river as long as you hike 200’ off of the bank. If you are setting up camp in the US Forest Service Corridor (between Lincoln and Low Bridge), you must hike a quarter mile off of the river bank in order to legally set up camp. Having the option to disperse camp allows you more flexibility if your timeline isn’t going to line up with the campgrounds along the river. There is one section of the river, though, where you absolutely cannot set-up camp due to it being all private land. This is the Ne-Bo-Shone, located between Meadowbrook and Walker on the map. You will want to plan to paddle all the way through that section before setting up camp. Besides that, the private property on the Pine is few and far between, and it’s easy to spot by the presence of a cabin. Obviously, respect private property and never trespass.
If you would rather target campgrounds, there are three public campgrounds alongside the river and one private. The public campgrounds are nicely spaced for facilitating a 2 night, 3 day paddle. I usually suggest paddling from Briar Patch to Silver Creek Campground (approximately 4.25 hours of in-the-boat paddle time) for your first day, then from Silver Creek Campground to Peterson Bridge Campground on your second day (approximately 5.5 hours). This leaves a shorter paddle from Peterson Bridge Campground to Low Bridge Access Site for your last day (about 3 hours).
Whether you choose to target campgrounds, or practice dispersed camping along the river, we are big proponents of Leave No Trace. You can find more about this practice here: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/.
Our customers take either canoes, kayaks, and sometimes even rafts, for multi-day trips down the river. Canoes are obviously a bit easier to stash gear than kayaks, but some folks make kayaks work as well. If renting kayaks, we will put you in a larger kayak than needed, to account for the space and weight of the gear. Whatever craft you take, be sure to bring plenty of dry bags to keep your camping gear nice and dry. If you are in need of dry bags, we offer a selection of various sizes in our store. Also, you’ll want to make sure that you have some rope to secure everything to your craft. Not only is your camping gear rendered useless if it floats away on you, but it also litters the Pine - neither are good scenarios!
Canoe camping is a beautiful way to experience the Pine - letting the sound of the river help you drift off at night, and waking up to its invigorating scent the next morning. The Pine is a constant source of rejuvenation - experience its true magic with your next overnight trip.