Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Upper Manistee River Forest Camground and Canoe Camp

This is the first in a series of reviews of Michigan State Parks and Forest Campgrounds.
There are two loops at the Upper Manistee River State Forest Campground and Canoe Camps, with 40 sites. There are no modern utilities. It is located outside of Grayling, west on M-72, and then north on Manistee River Road. Turn at the Down River gas station/party store. (this store was for sale the last time I drove by in June) It was a great store, with everything from beer to groceries to fishing lures. Alas, it seems that they are going out of business. At any rate, we stayed there 4 times during the summer of 2006. We went mainly in June. The first few times we went, it was not crowded at all. We really had a nice quiet time, I fished, my wife waded in the river. Headed up north the last weekend in June leisurely on a Friday afternoon, and wham, had to take the last spot in the whole camground with two cars tailing us closley! It appears that is a weekend for a large fly fishing group that camps together. They took many of the spots.

This is a campground that has fairly good cover and privacy between spots. The campground weaves around the scenic upper river of the Manistee. It holds good brown trout fishing. I always was able to catch at least one good 10" brown every time I went. ( I always release on this river) I always headed past the "left" loop, and if you follow the fence until it ends, there is a sandy bottom, with an island. This is towards the edge of the park, there is private property near by, so be respectful. Once you wade in, take the right fork, there is a good hole there, with a downed tree and lots of structure. Cast into the overhanging areas as well, as trout will be hanging out with good cover. I always used spinners on that river -- per regulations this was legal. Many fly fish it at night for the hex hatch.

Timing is everything with this park. My recommendation is early or late season. It seems that after June 25th, you will be dealing with trout camps, and then the loud canoe groups. One time that summer we stayed, and there is a large amount of group camping available, including those that can canoe in. It was like woodstock. I could never figure out what type of group it was, maybe come college frats and soroties getting togther, but it was a loud, loud party. Not to my liking when trying to get some peace and quiet. And there were no DNR around to control it.

So, all in all, a very scenic park with much of it bordering the river. But, being only 2 1/2 hours away from downstate, it can attract a lot rif raff. So pick your times of year to go. ( I guess like most campgrounds)

I have never stayed at, but have fished at Goose Creek State Forest Campground, which only has 5 sites, and is unique as it is a horse camp. While nice, be sure to watch your step! This is near the Upper Manistee camp, on the east side of the river. Please note that the campgrounds are mismarked on many maps, follow the signs while driving.
Until next time.

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