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Author Topic:   Michigan Inland Waterway trip 7/14-15
Jholmes105 posted 07-07-2014 07:48 AM ET (US)   Profile for Jholmes105   Send Email to Jholmes105  
I am planning to make a run with my family from Crooked Lake north to Cheboygan next Monday and Tuesday. Plan is to travel north Monay 7/14 to Cheboygan and stay at the Best Western and then travel back south on Tuesday. We will be in the Outrage 17 and was curious if some locals can help me out with a place to put in on Crooked Lake and with tips along the way? I will have wife and two kids and the goal is to show the kids the natural beauty if the waterway! We have been to northern Michigan many times, but have never done this waterway.

I was reading the thread from many years back and was hoping for some advice.


K Albus posted 07-07-2014 08:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Here's a link to a very helpful website that provides detailed information about the Inland Waterway: . There are two ways to explore that website. First, if you click the black "NEXT" with the arrow wrapped around it, the site will take you on a photo tour of the Inland Waterway. Second, if you click on the red lake or river names, you will be taken to a map of that particular portion of the Waterway. The maps show details such the location of launch ramps and restaurants.

For Crooked Lake there is just one paved launch ramp, located in the northwest corner of the lake. I have used that ramp before, with my Dauntless 180. You should have no problem launching your Outrage 17 at that ramp. One problem you may have, however, is overnight parking for your trailer. I'm not sure whether or not overnight parking is allowed there.

There is another ramp, an unpaved one, on the south shore of Crooked Lake. I have used that ramp also, and I do not recommend it for a boat the size of yours.

An often overlooked portion of the Inland Waterway is the side trip to Pickerel Lake. The Black Hole on Pickerel Channel is a very nice little natural area a is good spot for a deep water swim.

K Albus posted 07-07-2014 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Upon further review of the website, it appears that it doesn't do a great job of showing the locations of restaurants on the Inland Waterway. The only restaurant I can offer a review of is the Inn Between, which is a bar/restaurant located just west of the M-27 Bridge on Indian River. The Inn Between had pretty good pizza and fried smelt the last couple of times I was there.

djahncke posted 07-08-2014 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     
In addition to the Inn Between that Kevin mentioned. I highly recommend Pier-33 on the Cheboygan River just north of the M-33 bridge. Open for both lunch and dinner, they have plenty of docking space and it is truly one of the best restaurants in the area and reasonably priced. My wife and I eat there often.

Another spot that is open only for dinner is Hack-ma-tack. This is located on the Cheboygan River just off of Mullett Lake. The atmosphere is fun and the food is OK, however they are a little pricey.

If you go through the lock in Cheboygan you can get to the Boat House restaurant. They just reopened last month under new management. It is literally an old boat house from the 1920s.

At this time of the year the locks are open until 10PM so be sure to get yourself above the Cheboygan lock by that time to access your motel.

One additional piece of advice is the current on the Cheboygan and Indian River is stronger than usual this year. With the water levels this year they have more gates open on the dam. So be aware of this when you are maneuvering into any docks on the river. This is especially true at the Inn Between and Pier-33 as these are narrow spots in the river where the current is particularly strong.


dfmcintyre posted 07-08-2014 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Jeff -

We just spent last Saturday, touring from a ramp at Burt Lake to Crooked Lake. Very nice time. Stopped for lunch at "Bobs Place and some great sweets at the Dutch Oven, both in downtown Alanson, MI.

About 100yds upstream from River Street, there's a small park with 8 usable public slips on the west side of the river. Easy walk to both Bob's and the Dutch Oven. Bob's is approx six store fronts north up Burr Avenue from River Street. The Dutch Oven is on Burr, about five store fronts south from River Street.

If your looking for a launch site on Burt, consider the new ramp at the Maple Bay State Forest Campground. Look for Brutus, MI and go east to Maple Bay Road. Launch site is at the very end of Maple Bay Road. It's supposed to be pretty empty during the week (I would avoid it during the weekends though).

Regards - Don

Jholmes105 posted 07-08-2014 10:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jholmes105  Send Email to Jholmes105     
Wow! Thanks to all for the comments and tips! I called the Emmet County Chamber of Commerce and they said there is a ramp at 31 ans West Conway Road that is good...? Looks like the one in Conway - thanks for the heads up Albus!

I think we will absolutely plan to sop in Alanson for lunch and a walk around town and some sweets for the kids..Thanks Don

How far of a drop is the Cheboygan Lock? Anything I should know as a first timer to locks? Thanks for the tip on the current Don!



Jholmes105 posted 07-08-2014 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jholmes105  Send Email to Jholmes105     
Ok, so I just showed my wife a youtube video of the Cheboygan lock and now she is pretty nervous about the whole procedure! I have been in locks before as a kid and can remember there being a bit of a "nerve factor" to them! I think the south to north "lowering will not be as bad as the raising- staring at the bottom of the lock!

I know it may seem like a dumb question, but is there a way to let the kids and wife out and then meet up on the other side of the lock?


K Albus posted 07-08-2014 11:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
If you're only going as far as the Best Western in Cheboygan, you won't need to go through the Cheboygan lock. There is a smaller lock on the Crooked River that you will need to traverse. Just use the supplied ropes to hold your boat close to the wall - no big deal.
Jholmes105 posted 07-09-2014 12:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jholmes105  Send Email to Jholmes105     
Albus...thanks for the clarification! I got a bit confused there on the going to dinner in Cheboygan by way if boat! OK, just looked and we will be good and will plan to hoof it to town from the Best Western! Looks like plenty of places to eat and I found Mulligan's which is only about a mile from the best Western!

Albus..the fishweb site is fantastic and I thin you are right, the Black hole on Pickerell looks like a great side trip!

Thanks again to all for the help!


jimh posted 07-09-2014 12:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Cheboygan River lock is a bit of a challenge. Approaching it from upstream there can be a very strong in-rush current when the lock is filling. Stay way, way back when the lock is being filled. Exiting the lock downstream you have to make an immediate turn to Port. There is a strong current flowing out of the paper plant that will set you to Starboard. Watch for those two currents. Otherwise the lock is not particularly hard to transit. Come to think of it, I have always transited it going downstream. I don't know how much turbulence there is on the fill. We've never gone through it in the upstream direction. The drop is about 13-feet, the difference between Lake Huron (581-ASL) and Mullet Lake (594-ASL), although this varies probably with the time of year and the water level of Lake Huron.

As Don mentioned, there seems to be quite a rip flowing in the Cheboygan River this year.

For places to eat, I also strongly endorse Pier-33. Excellent food. The portions are huge.

Bob's Place in Alanson--we've eaten there. OK. Service seems a bit slow.

Inn Between in Indian River--eaten there, too. It's a northern Michigan bar with food to match.

What happened to THE BROWN TROUT in Indian River? Looks like it is gone. That was a good spot, too, but not on the water.

Another old classic up in that area was THE DAM SITE INN.

jimh posted 07-09-2014 12:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Most of the Cheboygan River will be NO WAKE speed. This means that the downstream trip will be about one-third as long as the upstream trip. If you really adhere to NO WAKE it can take a couple of hours going upstream to get to Mullet Lake, and particularly so if the current is strong. Your speed over ground at NO WAKE can be very low.
Hoosier posted 07-10-2014 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I've always thought of No Wake as an SOG of 5 MPH, some places actually post that.
EJO posted 07-11-2014 01:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for EJO  Send Email to EJO     
JP I don't know how old your kids are and it would be something they won't forget. The lock is not as bad as you or the Admiral might imagine. I've gone thru both ways with my 13 ft rubber dinghy to get to Mullet (long trip) Use you fenders and hold on to the many lines they have hanging over. Two people (fore and aft)handling the lines make for a much easier passage. Keep the engine idling for ease of quick maneuvering if needed.
The restaurants mentioned are good body refueling points
Have a great trip.
djahncke posted 07-16-2014 09:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     

How was your adventure on Michigan's Inland Waterway?

Jholmes105 posted 07-18-2014 08:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jholmes105  Send Email to Jholmes105     
All...we decided to postpone our IW trip due to the "polar invasion" of the jet stream this past week. With a forecast of 59, clouds and rain we thought it might be a good idea to postpone the trip as the idea was to have some "fun in the sun" with the kids on the boat! Had it just been me and a would have made for a great trip, stories and some nice beers to warm up with at the end of a day!

On the plus side, here in Ohio we had "Michigan like weather" all week with highs in the 70's- no humidity and clear blue made for some good boating days here on inland lakes!

I will post an update once we do the run and thanks to all for the advice!


Jeff posted 07-20-2014 11:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jeff  Send Email to Jeff     
Here is a little video I stitched together running from Alanson to Burt Lake on the Crooked River during a Whaler fall color tour from 3 years ago.

moabelite posted 08-13-2014 08:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for moabelite  Send Email to moabelite     
Will be heading up to the inland waterway this weekend on our Montauk 170 and with friends in their Dauntless 15.
Hope to see some of you on the water!
BTW - Anyone have an average running time from Huron up to Mullet and the reverse? The posts above indicate high river levels will likely slow our trip from Huron up to Mullet...
Mel Wallace posted 08-14-2014 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mel Wallace  Send Email to Mel Wallace     
Crooked River and Indian River will be closed at times due to the boat races this weekend. Check out details in attachment.
Mel Wallace posted 08-14-2014 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mel Wallace  Send Email to Mel Wallace     
Saturday, August 16: Indian River and Cheboygan River closed from 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Sunday, August 17: Indian River and Crooked River closed from 12:00pm to 2:00pm

moabelite posted 08-14-2014 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for moabelite  Send Email to moabelite     
Thanks Mel!

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