Canoeing Michigan's White River

This past Fourth of July, I discovered one of Michigan's rivers that has become part of my favorites.  The White River winds its way through Hesperia towards the southwest.  The river is virtually unknown to the Grand Rapids metro area and usually visited by the native Hespotuckians.  If you have ever canoed the Pere Marquette River, the White River bears a striking resemblance with its winding path, bushy banks, and flowing water.  Plus, the White is not as busy as the Pere Marquette.  The White is considered a Michigan Scenic River and is vying for national recognition as a scenic river.

My parents and I decided to splurge on a new canoeing river and we discovered the White River by chance online.  After a little research, we found Kellogg's Canoe Livery to be our supplier for this trip.  It appears that they are the sole livery for the northern branch in Hesperia; a different livery is towards the southern end near Montague.  The trip that Kellogg's offered looked like the most scenic and adventurous.  Jim, the owner, is an awesome guy with plenty of knowledge of the river, small talk to pass the time, and humor to lighten the spirits.  From my experience, I would say that the three-generation, family business is an upstanding company that gets my highest respect.

The river flows through part of the Manistee National Forest and has great opportunities to see wildlife.  Around the first bend after the livery, I believe I spotted a Green Heron.  A small, aquatic bird with webbed feet, the bird was a rare sighting for me.  Along the route are plenty of small song birds with bright tails.  The biggest treat is the eagle nest along the river.  An eagle with a wing span of about 8 feet and the body of a small turkey, flew ten feet over my mom's kayak like a silent drone.  Sadly, my camera was in my dry-bag at the moment.  The river is also filled with beautiful trout, pike, small-mouth bass, and steelhead and salmon at other times of the year.  Other sightings online report beaver, otter, and other aquatic mammals.  Supposedly, the river hosts the largest diversity of turtles in Michigan.

The river is about two to three feet deep and mostly stony with the occasional patches of sand.  Pushing the boaters along at a good pace, the White was also refreshing for the holiday.  The water was about sixty degrees and took away the heat.  I will make a small caution.  Be prepared to paddle.  Others say that beginners can handle the river, but there are strainers in the river that can make the trek somewhat harrowing for inexperienced paddlers.  I originally signed up for the four hour trip but we ended up calling to leave at the one-and-a-half-hour point due to one of our party feeling shaken by experiencing the dangers of a strainer first-hand.  I and another of my party had no problem but I would advise that new paddlers accompany seasoned veterans.  It takes a little reading of the river and a little work but it is a rewarding feeling of accomplishment upon completion.  I would do the river again without hesitation.  The steady flow adds excitement and makes it a refreshing getaway on a hot summer day.  In addition, the remote aspects of the river help the paddler to forget about stresses and life indoors.

The livery is located on the west side of Hesperia.  You can visit them at their new website and be sure to "Like" them on Facebook.  The local atmosphere was excellent on the Fourth and no one was on the river early in the day.  If your looking for something new and thrilling, Kellogg's and the White River can help.  The White River winds through the heart of West Michigan and as well as through my heart.