Manistee River: Hodenpyl Dam to Rainbow Bend

MODERATE 2 reviews
#13 of 15 trails in

Manistee River: Hodenpyl Dam to Rainbow Bend is a 35.1 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Marilla, Michigan that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

35.1 miles
82 feet
Point to Point

dog friendly



paddle sports






This ~35 mile overnight kayak trip starts at the Hodenpyl Dam Portage and travels 35 miles along the Big Manistee River to the Rainbow Bend Boat Launch. You can plant a car at Rainbow Bend and drive to Hodenpyl Dam with a second car to put in. No overnight parking is allowed at the dam so park your second car at the Marilla Trailhead about a mile away and walk to the dam. The most scenic and remote portion of the trip is by far the first section from Hodenpyl Dam to Red Bridge. This portion is a Semi-Primitive Non Motorized Area, so you will not see any boats disrupting the solitude. Campsites are plentiful along this ~11 mile stretch of the river due to the MRT on the east banks. This section takes slightly under 3 hours to paddle with no stops. According to Manistee County's website, floating this section takes about 4 hours. Day two you can travel to Blacksmith Bayou Campground just past High Bridge at about the 25/26 mile mark. This section of the Manistee involves a more strenuous paddle up the Tippy Dam area which has almost no current and plenty of boats creating waves. However this is also a beautiful area with plenty of drive in sites right on the river. Once you reach the Tippy Dam, the kayaks have to be portaged over the dam. This is where packing light pays off. Once at the top of the dam it is easy to let the boats slide down the grass on the other side. This area of the river on the downstream side of the dam is a popular fishing destination. The nearby campground also launches large groups of day kayakers so if you would like to avoid these groups get an early start past this point. From Tippy Dam to Rainbow Bend is the most populated portion of this trip. A two night trip is recommended, camping one night between Hodenpyl & Tippy Dam and one night at Blacksmith Bayou or other nearby site.

11 months ago

Check out our video of this route at:

paddle sports
Friday, August 11, 2017