Rapid, Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II(III) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||13 fpm|
|Max Gradient||25 fpm|
With a name like 'Rapid River', you'd think there should be some whitewater, right?
Well, there is, though generally it is almost exclusively low-grade rapids (class I-II riffles
and rips). This river appears to spread it's gradient out over quite a length. In the
twenty-seven miles listed here, there are just two stretches (a three-mile and a four-mile
stretch) where gradient falls under ten feet per mile. Flipside, there is no full mile
where gradient exceeds twentyfive feet per mile, and not a quarter-mile with
more than ten feet of drop (I.E., an equivalent of 40FPM). So, any long reach here is
canoe-tripping or recreational-kayak territory.
That said, there is one area of named rapids which (with adequate flows) could excite true whitewater playboaters. "Rapid River Falls" (really more of a 'rapids' than a 'falls'), lies within a park (good access for PnP). Some (low-flow) photos are online at:
For those wishing to do more than just the park-and-play, many different access points are possible, allowing various length trips. With adequate flows, the full run could be possible (though you would obviously need an early start and a long day!). IF access/parking is found, it could be split into (nearly equal) thirds, the first-third ending where the river is close to E.Maple Ridge/37 Road, the second-third ending at Rapid River Falls County Park, and the final-third ending at Bay du Noc.
The following video (from YouTube, courtesy "Real Outdoor TV Show") includes commercial rafting footage of the rapids on this run. (We have set start- and end-time to highlight footage of just this river. If you drag the slider, you can see the beginning of the video/show (which includes rafting the Escanaba below Boney Falls Dam) and the end of the video/show (which is a segment on fishing). However, doing so will 'erase' the start- and end-times we have set. Doing a refresh/reload on your browser will re-implement these parameters.)
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|8.8||E.Maple Ridge Road||N/A|
|11.9||South River Road||N/A|
|17.7||Rapid River Falls||III|
End of 1st third of run, which is a lot of flatwater, with random, short bits of riffles and rips.
FWIW, USGS lists a sampling site citing drainage area of 55 square miles at this point.
If parking and access can be secured someplace along South River Road, this could provide alternate access.
Much more of a 'rapids' than a real 'falls', the river drops over a series of bedrock ledges (none more than a foot-or-two in height). At low-boatable flows, this may be no more than bump-and-scrape class I-II. At moderate flows, expect solid class II, and at times of high flows, this area will have great waves and holes, and likely reach at least a solid class III. Good access in a County Park should allow for a 'park-and-play' at this location.
A USGS sampling site at the S15 bridge immediately downstream lists drainage at this point as 100 square miles.
Enjoy this look at the falls (at a rather low flow):