Ontonagon River, South Branch

Ewen, Michigan

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A rugged and scenic river that alternates between flatwater and rollicking class I–II rapids. On U.P. maps, the Ontonagon River’s many tributaries sprawl across the peninsula’s northwestern hinterlands, extending watery tendrils through some of the wildest country remaining in the Midwest. Of these branches, the South offers the most interesting variety of canoeing conditions, from peaceful flatwater to challenging whitewater. Moreover, it is a more reliable destination for summer paddling trips than the Ontonagon’s other major tributaries, which are vulnerable to water level fluctuations. The South Branch receives much of the Middle Branch’s flow via a flume located about 8 miles upstream of Ewen. But while this diversion helps the stream maintain adequate volume for summertime floats, its lack of intermediate access sites—canoe trips on the South Branch are a straight shot from Ewen to Victoria Dam, more than two dozen miles downstream— keep pressure light.
Paddling Michigan

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Paddling Michigan

by Kevin Hillstrom & Laurie Collier Hillstrom (Falcon Guides)

A rugged and scenic river that alternates between flatwater and rollicking class I–II rapids. On U.P. maps, the Ontonagon River’s many tributaries sprawl across the peninsula’s northwestern hinterlands, extending watery tendrils through some of the wildest country remaining in the Midwest. Of these branches, the South offers the most interesting variety of canoeing conditions, from peaceful flatwater to challenging whitewater.

Moreover, it is a more reliable destination for summer paddling trips than the Ontonagon’s other major tributaries, which are vulnerable to water level fluctuations. The South Branch receives much of the Middle Branch’s flow via a flume located about 8 miles upstream of Ewen. But while this diversion helps the stream maintain adequate volume for summertime floats, its lack of intermediate access sites—canoe trips on the South Branch are a straight shot from Ewen to Victoria Dam, more than two dozen miles downstream— keep pressure light.

©  Kevin Hillstrom & Laurie Collier Hillstrom/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Ewen
Distance: 25.5
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 7 - 10 hours
Class: Class I-III
Season: Best May to September
Local Contacts: Ottawa National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Ewen, Oak Bluff
Driving Directions: Directions to Ontonagon River, South Branch

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Apr 2018