Rapid - N.Rock Road/38th Road to Bay du Noc (PnP, or up to 27 miles)

Rapid, Michigan, US


N.Rock Road/38th Road to Bay du Noc (PnP, or up to 27 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 27 Miles
Avg. Gradient 13 fpm
Max Gradient 25 fpm

River Description

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:
SuperiorSights.com and

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.)

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-09-18 12:26:00

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
8.8E.Maple Ridge RoadN/A
11.9South River RoadN/AAccess
15.335 RoadN/A
17.7Rapid River FallsIIIAccess Playspot
20.732 RoadN/A
23.2CR I-18N/A

Rapid Descriptions

E.Maple Ridge Road (Class N/A, Mile 8.8)

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.

South River Road (Class N/A, Mile 11.9)

If parking and access can be secured someplace along South River Road, this could provide alternate access.

Rapid River Falls (Class III, Mile 17.7)

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):

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 30 2013 (2060 days ago)
ChrisStratton (155207)
Yesterday I saw a gauge marker stick poking up thru the ice and snow downstream from the first
bridge upstream of the park where the "falls" are?

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