Ontonagon River, Mainstream

Ontonagon, Michigan 49953

Ontonagon River, Mainstream

Ontonagon River, Mainstream Professional Review and Guide

"A big, sleepy river that winds through scenic woodlands before emptying into Lake Superior. Unlike its rambunctious tributaries, which twist and shout as they rush through Michigan’s craggy northern parts, the mainstream of the Ontonagon River sighs and gurgles contentedly for most of its 24-mile length. The mainstream is formed by the juncture of the East and Middle Branches just upstream of the access site at U.S. 45, and it gets another injection of volume from the West Branch about 1 mile below the put-in.

These tributaries combine with other feeder streams to broaden the Ontonagon to 150 feet or more in its upper reaches, a size that it maintains for most of its length before it empties into Lake Superior. But the mainstream’s inconsequential gradient serves to keep rough water to a minimum throughout. Indeed, long stretches of the Ontonagon are so slow that the current is nearly imperceptible. This mild temperament, coupled with the numerous camping and picnicking spots that line its banks, make the mainstream the most family-friendly river in the Ontonagon system."

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
7 - 10 hours
Class I
Best May to October
Ottawa National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Ontonagon North, Ontonagon South, Firesteel
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018