The beautiful Bear River runs 14.5 miles from Walloon Lake in Charlevoix County to Little Traverse Bay in Emmet County. The upper 13 miles is flat water through extensive wetland and marsh. Access points and landings are limited primarily to road crossings. There is very limited development along the river due to the wetlands and extensive public land ownership making it a great quiet respite outside the resort areas of Petoskey and Boyne City. The lower 1.5 miles of river runs through the City of Petoskey's Bear River Recreation Area and includes a mile of white water below Sheridan Road. The River empties into Little Traverse Bay next to the Marina and Break Water at Petoskey's Bayfront Park.
The Bear River Watershed is approximately 74, 215 acres and is the largest tributary of Little Traverse Bay. The last mile of river contains the steepest drop of any river in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
The Mukwa Ziibing (Bear River) has been an important natural resource for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians for centuries. The river also played an important part of Petoskey's Industrial past including seven dam's along the lower river and many fine mill sites. The river boasts a nice fishery and continues to be prized locally.
For paddling, The Bear also has a long history. It has long been used for both transportation and recreation. in the 1950's there was an annual race between Walloon Village and Petoskey. The Bear starts gently out of Walloon Lake at Melrose Township Park where there is a small weir and in dry times it may be hard to float this section. Between US-131 and N. River Road Hay Marsh Creek joins The Bear and there is always enough floatable water down stream from that point. Springbrook Creek joins the river just upstream from Springbrook Road which significantly increases the the water in the river. The river slowly meanders through wetland and marshlands mostly through Bear Creek Township and then into the City of Petoskey. Flat water paddlers want to exit at Sheridan Road as below that the River changes to White Water as it flows through the Bear River Recreation Area and out to Little Traverse Bay.
Bear River Water Trail News
Contact: Bear Creek Township