A sweet run by itself (for 'newcomers' to the L'Anse area, unsure whether they are ready for the more challenging 'upper' run), or a great continuation of that upper run for a good full day! Also, often 'paired' with a warm-up or 'chaser' run on the Falls River.
Most folks tend to meet up (or stay overnight) at the Hilltop Restaurant (and motel). Shuttle is somewhat long (13.2 miles and about 27 minutes, each way!), having to come back through L'Anse. If all vehicles go to the put-in to offload, then have to drive shuttle (down and back) before anyone puts on, folks will be sitting at the put-in for at least a full hour! You may wish to consider (at least some drivers, from the Hilltop) swapping boats onto other vehicles, then going to the take-out, to leave drop-vehicles there before driving up to put-in. (It should shorten the wait at least 15-20 minutes!)
Driving Directions to the Put-in:
From Hwy 41 on the south side of L'Anse, a short distance south from the Hilltop Restaurant, turn east on Dynamite Hill Rd. This will twist and turn somewhat, but stay on the main road for about 4 miles. There will be an obvious "Y" in the road. Bearing to the left will put you on Arvon Rd (same Arvon Rd as used to access the Slate River but opposite end) and bring you to the take-out bridge after 1/2 mile.Driving Directions to the Take-out:
As you head north into L'Anse, Hwy 41 will veer to the left but you will continue straight on Broad Street. Proceed to the main intersection in downtown L'Anse and turn right on Main St. As you leave town, this will become Skanee Rd. After about 7 miles, look on the right for a small road with sign for Silver River Falls. Turn to the right here and drive about a half mile to the park which is the take-out. This road may be impassable early season as it is not maintained. If this is the case, continue about a mile on Skanee Rd until you come to the bridge over the Silver for an alternate take-out. Using the Skanee Rd take-out adds about 1 1/2 miles of moving water, with no significant drops (past Lower Silver Falls).
Click here for Part 1 of an article from the AW Journal, way back in 1981!
Click here for Part 2 of the article.
The article describes the following: Michigan's, Upper Presque Isle, Lower Presque Isle, Middle Black, Lower Black, Upper Silver, Lower Silver, Falls, and Rock; and Wisconsin's Lower Brunsweiler, Montreal Canyon, and West Branch Montreal.
USGS lists a sampling site at Arvon Road (put-in for this section), showing drainage area at that point as 34.5 square miles, or just more than half the drainage area as at the gauge. Thus, flow in the early going may actually be more nearly half the gauge reading!
From the putin (which will be somewhat boney at most runnable levels), one shortly comes to the first drop. A narrowing in the river harbors a deceptively tricky/sticky pair of holes. At higher levels, the eddies here will surge and boil and draw you back into the hole, so paddle hard to make sure you punch through. While safely in the eddy below, enjoy a small sidestream cascading in on the right.
Just downstream of the first little dells, prepare to scout (river-left recommended, right is ok) as the river takes a sharp bend to the right. It drops down a confused rock jumble (with possibly a few offset holes), into a channel where it is abrupty directed ninety-degrees to the left. A few small waves and holes in this 'alley' lead to a small pooling up before a congested ledge where a rock splits the flow (at most flows). One usual route is to catch a left eddy above this, ferry into a tight-right 'hanging eddy', then peel-out, charging toward the rock to drop over the ledge into a wild wrapping hole, charging toward center-stream below. While the move is simple, it never fails to get my heart pumping.
A few easier ledges and holes lead to the next big drop, a triple which is usually scouted (river right). While a right side sneak on the first drop is sometimes used, there are piton rocks to be aware of. The (more usually run) left side of the first drop is a round-house slide with a couple of holes, the second drop is a sharp, short ledge (great boof), then one slides to down a smooth alley to run the final sloping ledge fairly well to the left for an 'off-ramp' into the pool below.
Not far downstream, the next triple drop is found. Scout from the left. Traditional route on the first drop was well to the right, however there is a rock at the base of the drop for a serious power-piton. A bump-and-thump alternative may be found down the center or left. Second drop is usually run tight to the left wall, with a sweet launch partway through. The final drop is a short sliding ledge into a usually fairly forgiving wave/hole.
Make certain to turn and look back upstream when you finish this drop to look at the gradient you have just run. It is a wonderfully impressive sight!
Downstream, the gradient peters out and you have a (much too) long stretch of flatwater. Be aware there will be one 'false-alarm' riffle which punctuates the otherwise almost 3-mile long peaceful float.
Take out river right when you hear the next drop. The river accelerates down through offset waves, gets squeezed and twisted to the left past an old bridge trestle, then jumps through a couple waves into a brief hanging pool. The main current pushes straight through the pool toward the brink of the second pitch of this drop. (Boaters usually opt to catch an eddy in this pool before picking their line down the next section.) Flowing out of this pool is a wide jumbled rocky slide. A series of ill-placed rock lies right in the main current at the lip of the drop, leaving fairly narrow gaps to thread before spilling down the frothing slide. Watch out for the 'trip rocks' which will try to spill you if you get sideways down this slide. The best line is usually by threading between a couple 'guard-rocks' well to the right, and keeping a straight boat angle to avoid being tripped up by jutting rock on the slide. As the waters (from across the width of the slide) collect, the river flows through additional series of waves, holes, and diagonal ledges.
Another (thankfully briefer) bit of flatwater brings you to the finale, Silver Falls. The upper part of this is a sweet brief dells, as the river narrows significantly and accelerates through a series of holes (generally not sticky). For some, it will seem that there are few, if any, eddies, though I've heard of some boaters at some levels, 'working' the drop, catching a few eddies, before the drop breaks out across shallower bedrock into a short pool at the end of the first pitch. The river then hooks sharply to the left. Most boaters will take out immediately after this tight bend, before coming to the main part of Silver Falls. This drop has been run, but is very nasty looking at most water levels. Most will be content to just look at it before carrying up to the parking lot.
In the 'rapids' section for the Lower Silver...
"The river narrows significantly through a fine dells, through numerous waves and holes, with few eddies (though I've heard of some boaters at some levels, 'working' the drop, catching a few eddies). At the end of the first pitch, the river widens a bit and spills across some shallow bedrock before cranking tightly to the left. Most boaters will take out immediately after this tight bend to carry up the hill to the parking area. Downstream lies the "Silver Bullet", which has been run a good number of times, but is not recommended at most levels for most boaters."
That should read Silver Falls.
The 'Silver Bullet' is in the cabin section on the Upper Silver.
Log was gone in the spring of 2008 paddle season. But, it was a nasty log at the time and required a portage. Always check this river for wood as it is a narrow creek that could collect wood at certain rapids.
There is a log down across the whole river at the bottom of the first major series of rapids of the lower Silver (river bends gentle right, ledge drops, then bend back left in more rapids, then log) I saw the log on 4/1/2006
As of September, 2001, a USGS gauge at Skanee Road is online.
According to at least one boater's report:
8.5'/475 cfs described as 'moderate'
8.0'/325 described as 'moderate low'
At 7.43' everything was runnable, but getting quite scrapey.
Based upon data from 2002-2013:
Minimum flow is zero (of course),
Maximum (peak) flow was 3180 cfs (May 12, 2003),
90% flow was 13 cfs (90% of the time flow equals or exceeds this value),
10% flow was 155 cfs (10% of the time flow equals or exceeds this value),
making for a 10/90 ratio of 11.9 (suggesting a rather flashy stream, no big surprise).
Best month to catch it is April (15 runnable days, on average; low of 9, high of 22),
with March and May being next best (4 runnable days average, low of 0, high of 8-10),
though it has run in June, October, and November.
Offseason ('Ice') correlations:
9.86' =1000 cfs
9.53' = 860 cfs
9.00' = 650 cfs
8.87' = 600 cfs
8.58' = 500 cfs
8.26' = 400 cfs
7.91' = 300 cfs
7.71' = 250 cfs
7.50' = 200 cfs
7.40' = 180 cfs
Disclaimer: Be aware that indication of a 'runnable' level by the gauge does not necessarily mean that the river is runnable. In winter, gauge readings may be 'ice affected'. Sections of the river may be impassable due to ice. Use discretion for winter and early spring runs.
The 'boaters gauge' is to look at the river downstream of Arvon Road. If it looks a bit rocky ('marginal') you probably have a decent level! If you don't see any rocks, it's HIGH!
Boaters also use a 'measure down' gauge at the bridge at Skanee Road. Measuring down from underside downstream left on NEW bridge there: 72" down appears to equate to -22" on old bridge (I.E. relative minimum level for runnability). Desirable (runnable) levels may be 60" to 69" down, with 70"-73" runnable but getting scrapey. To change this 'measure down' (more is less, less is more) into a positive reading, I would recommend subtracting your 'measure down' value from 72". Doing so gives 0" as relative minimums, with +3" to +12" as 'desirable/runnable' flows.
Also, I have received word that if you measure down from the bottom of the concrete on the bridge on the upstream left side and subtract that number from 14.81 feet, that will give you the gage height (this will correlate very nicely with the USGS gage height that appears on the web).
Permits are not required for this reach.
Keep in mind that distance and time given below are each way. Thus, to save time before your run, it is advised that (if possible) you meet at (or at least some of vehicles drive to) the take-out, drop vehicle(s) there, transfer boats & people to other vehicles and (only then) drive up to the put-in. This way you are not leaving people waiting at the put-in for nearly an hour as you drive shuttle (down and back).
Second (Straight) Triple
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