Silver - B) Upper Silver: Silver Rd to Arvon Rd (2.3 miles)

Silver, Michigan, US


B) Upper Silver: Silver Rd to Arvon Rd (2.3 miles)

Usual Difficulty III-V (varies with level)
Length 2.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 150 fpm
Max Gradient 177 fpm

Cabin Section

Cabin Section
Photo by Boris Glick

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04043150 7.47 - 9.00 ft IV-V(V+) 00h59m 9.04 ft (too high)
Unusually high flows. (Over 700 cfs). Seriously big and pushy. Extreme caution recommended for any who opt to run. Gauge (64.7 Sq.Mi. drainage) is well downstream (at Skanee Road). Gauge flow would considerably exaggerate flow in this reach, so we use stage reading.

River Description

This is one of the definitive South Shore creek runs. First paddled in the seventies, the Silver has long had an annual pilgrimage of faithfuls, hoping to catch this beauty when the snow melts and the ice goes out.

The run begins with Hail Mary (a great challenging rapids in three pitches) and ends with the Cabin Section (an even more demanding stretch which most boaters will enjoy from shore, and even well seasoned boaters will likely appreciate having good safety support in a few key locations). At low-to-moderate flows, this section can easily be parsed into three sequential pitches. At higher flows, the drops tend to 'run together', creating many opportunities for epic tales to be told later around the bar or campfire. And, between these two sequences, you'll find a plentiful assortment of good drops to keep you on your toes.

Many boaters will continue downriver to do the 'Lower Silver' run for a good, full day. And, if they've planned well, will add a run on the Falls River (in L'Anse) as either a warm-up or a 'chaser' to end the day.

AW members may click here for Part 1 of an article from the AW Journal, way back in 1981!
AW members may click here for Part 2 of the article.

The article describes the following:
Upper Presque Isle,
Lower Presque Isle,
Lower Black,
Upper Silver, (this reach)
Lower Silver,
Falls, and
and Wisconsin's
Lower Brunsweiler,
Montreal, W.Fk., and
Montreal Canyon.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-01-02 20:59:22


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0USGS sampling siteN/A
0.5Hail Mary (three pitches)IVWaterfall Photo
0.8(don't recall the name!)IV
1.3Bubble BathIII+Waterfall Photo
1.8Cabin SectionIV+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Note! (Class N/A)

This is NOT a comprehensive list of the rapids on this reach. We could use some help here. If you know names, have locations (coordinates), or can provide more detailed descriptions for any of the rapids on this reach, we would appreciate your input! Add a comment or report, or email the StreamTeam member for this reach.

USGS sampling site (Class N/A)

USGS lists a sampling site at Arvon Road (take-out for this section) showing drainage area at that point as 34.5 square miles, which is just more than half the drainage at the active gauge at Skanee Road. Thus, flows in this upper section will approach half the flow shown on gauge.

Hail Mary (three pitches) (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Steve runs Hail Mary

Steve runs Hail Mary
Photo of Steve Arnold by Mike Croak taken 05/04/08 @ 8'

"Hail Mary" is broken down into three pitches. The first pitch starts with a jumbled slide into a nearly 90-degree left turn, followed by a sequence of holes and waves.

A short pool brings you to the second pitch: A rocky protuberance separates the flow (at low-to-moderate levels, anyway). To the right, water flows over a shallow shelf and dumps into a wrapping hole (the current from the left line). To the left, a sweet slide accelerates you into the flow dropping in from the right, then (with little pause) accelerates you toward a pretty good sized hole, with diagonal 'feeder waves' funneling you into the maw. Punch the hole hard, angled left to catch the left eddy, or you will be fed (by the outflow) right into an undercut wall.

A longer let-up precedes the final pitch. The jagged rock of the riverbed 'humps' down the middle of this pitch. To the left, water spills into a nasty, narrow crease. (You DON'T want to be anywhere near this!) With adequate water, the most opted for route is more-or-less down the center, but more often when I've been there (with low-to-moderate flows), the preferred route has been well to the right. A short initial ledge drops you into a short pool. Sliding out of there, you grunge down toward a wall of rock (right shore), to be diverted sharply to your left. You do your best to avoid banging paddle or right elbow on the wall (or worse, being flipped) as you head toward the hole formed where currents converge (from the left-side slot) as they (hopefully) spit you out downstream.

(don't recall the name!) (Class IV, Mile 0.8)

A great combo drop comes as the river swings to the left. The entrance slides and trips across some ledge/waves, runs headlong toward a large boulder (river-left), then pools briefly before sliding down more medium-angle slides, through a few good wave/holes, before calming a bit below. Don't let up too soon! There is another good combo which follows!

Bubble Bath (Class III+, Mile 1.3)


Photo of Evan St. Peter by Nate Alwine taken 04/03/05 @ 8.2-8.3

(Map location very approximate)

After a pretty fair relatively flat stretch (maybe a half-mile), this single ledge drop is encountered. The approach is generally quite straight-forward, and there is a good pool below, so this may be a simple drop. However, at good flows, the hole at the base can be quite aggressive, so the recommended line is often a boof on river-right.

Cabin Section (Class IV+, Mile 1.8)

Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet
Photo of Evan St. Peter by Nate Alwine taken 04/03/05 @ 8.2-8.3

This is some serious gradient that you will want to take a good look at. As soon as you see the first 'cabin' (house) on the right, get out to scout the whole section. At low-to-moderate flows, you can easily break it down into three or more distinct pitches, each of which is not that difficult. However, taking the whole sequence together (as will be the case at higher flows), it is a huge chunk of gradient to navigate.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
September 12 2016 (858 days ago)
wildman35 (158572)
Ran this river yesterday @ 8.0 with a buddy and fellow whitewater rafting guide in our inflatable
NRS Outlaws. We were incredibly impressed with this river and found ourselves out classed for the
inflatable type boats we were using a few times. We ran the first two pitches of Hail Mary but
decided to portage around the final pitch (thanks to the landowners for letting us use their
property!). The sections between the bottom of Hail Mary and the top of the Cabin section were
incredible and challenging. We spent plenty of time scouting the class four sections in the middle.
Those rapids were intense, exciting, and very worthy of good names! Bubblebath does have a large
tree down on the river right as you approach the falls, but it is easy to avoid by keeping towards
the middle. By the time we reached the cabin section, we were just about out of daylight due to our
late start so we chose not to push our luck and portaged using the road behind the cabin. Overall,
an absolutely gorgeous portion of white water nestled into the U.P.!
March 19 2012 (2496 days ago)
CSmerda (154126)
WOOD WARNING FOR THE SILVER BULLET There is fresh wood in the Bullet. Do not attempt to run Silver
Bullet and please excercise great caution just above or in the Cabin Section if you choose to run
any of the lead in drops. There is (as every spring) fresh wood all over on the Silver and Falls
Rivers... please be careful out there folks.
April 3 2011 (2846 days ago)
FWIW, strictly in the interests of clarity and correctness, the text of the cited article may be
misleading as to the actual events. The initial problem Richard had was being stopped/caught in the
hole above "Silver Bullet". I'm pretty sure the report was that repeated attempts were made to
throw him a rope while he was in the hole, but he went limp. it was only once he flushed from the
hole that his body ended up pinned on the tree. The hole which stopped him should be of concern and
should be scouted and evaluated by all boaters before deciding to run the drops in the "Cabin
April 20 2009 (3560 days ago)
Doug HeymDetails The Mining Journal,
Marquette, MI POSTED: April 19, 2009 L'ANSE - A Houghton man is dead after a kayaking accident that
occurred on the Silver River in Baraga County Friday evening. Richard Honrath Jr., 47, was
pronounced dead at Baraga Memorial Hospital. Baraga County Sheriff's deputies went to the Silver
River in L'Anse Township, shortly after 8:20 p.m. to assist a kayaker who was reportedly "pinned
against a tree." Deputies found Honrath pinned under a tree in fast-moving rapids. He was pulled
from the water and taken to the hospital. Honrath and his partner, Dave Bullock, 38, of downstate
St. Johns had entered the Silver River about two miles upstream from where the incident occurred.
Bullock told police that Honrath had rolled and was separated from his kayak. Bullock attempted a
rescue with a throw rope, but all attempts failed. According to Bullock, he and Honrath had been
kayaking together for about 15 years and were familiar with the Silver River. The L'Anse Fire
Department, Bay Ambulance, Keweenaw Bay Tribal Police and the L'Anse and Baraga village police
departments assisted with the incident.