Slate - B) Upper: near Arvon quarry to Quartzite Falls (2.5 miles)

Slate, Michigan, US


B) Upper: near Arvon quarry to Quartzite Falls (2.5 miles)

Usual Difficulty II-III+ (for normal flows)
Length 2.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 90 fpm
Max Gradient 126 fpm

Quartzite Falls

Quartzite Falls
Photo of Mike Evanston by Tom O'Keefe taken 04/07/97

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Slate At Take-out
virtual-129598 150 - 500 cfs II-III+ 01h14m ~ 0 cfs (too low)
Almost certainly too low for reasonable run. Virtual gauge estimates flow as .2828*Silver River, based on relative drainages. Correlation is not assured. Visual inspection of Slate is required.
usgs-04043150 8.58 - 9.85 ft II-III+ 01h12m ~ 7.57 ft (too low)

River Description

This run (when coupled with the lower Slate) is considered by some boaters to be some of the U.P.'s finest spring boating. It has excellent backwoods scenery, a real small creek feel, and a bunch of great drops.

For early season runs, snow or mud are likely to preclude travel on the logging road beyond the quarry. If the road is passable, there is gradient upstream (to the listed put-in) which could add to the length and enjoyment of this otherwise fairly short segment. Otherwise (quite often) drive is as far up the road as one can travel with your various shuttle vehicles, and slog your way to the river.

On this upper run, the river is quite a small stream, mostly meandering through the woods. Random bedrock intrusions create an assortment of drops, most of which are boat-scoutable at reasonable water levels. The main exception is the final drop, Quartzite Falls, which comes just downstream of a bridge. Scouting is recommended from the right bank. A very irregular ledge drops the boater onto a low-angle slide (grungy at lower water levels) feeding into a hole as the water hits a pool at the end of the slide. With enough water to make the slide not-grungy, the hole can get rather meaty.

Take-out after running this drop and carry back upstream to bridge, or (if owner's permission is obtained in advance) proceed downstream to take-out at "Heartbreak Hotel" (a cabin just downstream, and immediately adjacent to both the river and Arvon Road).

This reach is likely to be combined with the lower run, but ~2.2 miles between the sections (as we have them listed) is flatwater punctuated by plenty of deadfall. It's a tough call whether its more hassle to 'double-shuttle' or suffer the flatwater and snags. The lower run is completely different in character, and a serious notch up in difficulty and potential consequence. Hardcore boaters may wish to completely skip the upper to concentrate on the lower run. It should be noted that it also contains a flat stretch with an even worse problem of deadfall.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-24 19:47:30

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.2Bonus Rapids/FallsIII+
1.9Ledge/Falls SeriesN/A
2.3Black Slate FallsN/A
2.4Quartzite FallsIVPhoto
2.7"Heartbreak Hotel"N/ATakeout Access

Rapid Descriptions

Bonus Rapids/Falls (Class III+, Mile -0.2)

It may be worthwhile to carry upstream less than a quarter-mile to catch what appears to be a sweet bit of gradient.

Ledge/Falls Series (Class N/A, Mile 1.9)

This starts the longest stretche of ledges/falls on this run, leading to the bridge above Quartzite Falls.

Black Slate Falls (Class N/A, Mile 2.3)

See description and various (low water) photos at: Waterfalls of the Keweenaw.

Bridge (Class N/A, Mile 2.4)

We highly recommend scouting from this bridge before running Quartzite Falls just downstream. (You may wish to do this when setting shuttle, just to be well familiar with the territory.)

Quartzite Falls (Class IV, Mile 2.4)

Quartzite Falls

Quartzite Falls
Photo of Mike Evanston by Tom O'Keefe taken 04/07/97

Arguably the highlight of this run.

"Heartbreak Hotel" (Class N/A, Mile 2.7)

Not a hotel, just a cabin/house which has a sign saying "Heartbreak Hotel". If property owners are around, ask permission to park down here if you wish to enjoy the runout rapids and final gradient on the upper run. Downstream of this point, the next ~2 miles are low gradient (no real rapids, ledges, or falls), and lots of deadfall and snags (with likely a few portages to get around them). For that reason, we break this into this upper run and a separate lower run.

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