Ontonagon, M.Br. - B) below Bond Falls to Hwy.28 (8.4 miles)


Ontonagon, M.Br., Michigan, US

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B) below Bond Falls to Hwy.28 (8.4 miles)

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 8.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 26 fpm
Max Gradient 68 fpm


River Description

Put-in: From Bond Falls Road, there is a parking area and trailhead for the Western Upper Peninsula Heritage TrailCarry down to below Bond Falls, which is very scenic, but all lands shallow.
Take-out: At wayside above Hwy.28 unless you are VERY sure of your skills. Agate Falls is 1/3 mile downstream, and falls 40'+ onto bedrock. It is definitely worth the hike down to view it after you have secured your boat in/on your vehicle.
Personally, I find these two falls (Bond and Agate) to be more similar than perhaps any two falls I have ever seen! It's great to have them as 'bookends' on this run.

Shuttle Information: Length: 12 miles, Time: 25 minutes (each way)

2006-06-30 Michael Toth Provides:
Three friends and I did this stretch last weekend. Water levels were quite low, down to ankle depth in some areas. Many of the shallow, rocky areas looked like they would be fun when the water is higher. Another 6" of water depth or so and many parts of this stretch will be great! I would expect many class II areas and a few class III's at higher water levels.

On the downside, this stretch required numerous portages due to fallen timber in the river as well as some beaver dams. Expect 10+ short portages over fallen logs. The beaver dams culminate in what we called "Beaver Castle", a huge network of beaver dams and fallen timber about halfway through this stretch. To get past this area, you will need to portage to the small tributary just to the right of Beaver Castle. You can't immediately see it unless you walk over some of the fallen timber towards the right. (There may be a better route through this maze-like area of slow-moving tributaries, but that's the one we took.) From here, the river goes through some marshy areas where the water moves very slowly. Eventually, it returns to rock-bed rapids very similar to early on in the river.

We hiked out with a few miles left to go on the river, because we were moving too slowly and it was going to get dark in a couple hours. The hike out is not fun, so don't do it if you can avoid it! You may have to pass through some underbrush as well as marshy areas. Although the terrain isn't good for hiking, you really can't get lost as long as you keep moving N/NE/E. There's the river to the west, Agate Rd. to the east, and M-28 to the north, all within a few miles of the river.

A final note on the take-out. A ways up stream from Agate Falls there's a small, calm pool in the river. You can easily walk down to scout it from the parking lot when you set shuttle. You should probably get out here unless you are very sure of your skills, because after this pool the river picks up very rapidly and has some strong rapids before the falls.

Overall, this river should be more fun at higher water levels as long as you don't mind the numerous portages.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-04 22:05:56

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-0.2Upstream ReachN/A
0.0Initial SequenceN/A
1.5Increased actionN/A
2.1House/cabin, river-leftN/A
2.7House/cabin, river-rightN/A
2.9IslandN/A
3.1CC RoadN/A
3.3House/cabin, river-rightN/A
3.4Islands/logjamsN/A
3.5House/cabin, river-rightN/A
4.1House (barn?), river-rightN/A
4.5SNAG CITY!N/A
5.3building (house? barn?) river-rightN/A
5.7Action increasesN/A
6.1House/cabin, river-rightN/A
8.3Final SequenceN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Upstream Reach (Class N/A, Mile -0.2)

From Bond Falls Road (and the dam/impoundment), there is nearly a quarter-mile of river to below Bond Falls. A limited amount of water is spilled from the dam nearly all year to keep the scenic falls wetted. In spring (and high-water events) additional flow will no doubt spill down this stretch.

In addition to the natural rock ledges and such (at least as of years back when I was last there), there are numerous cement 'structures' in the river above the main falls, the purpose of which (I believe) is to ensure that (even at minimal flows) the maximum amount of the width of the main falls has water splashing down it.

While it may look appealing to run some of this early stretch, the main falls is likely boat/body abuse, as it crashes almost uniformly shallow onto rock. We therefore most strongly recommend hiking (and fantasizing about) the upper stretch, but carrying your boat down the boardwalk and putting in below the falls.



Initial Sequence (Class N/A, Mile 0.0)

From the boardwalk/put-in, action is swift (at least class II, perhaps marginally class III) but quickly subsides into fairly continuous class I-II.



Increased action (Class N/A, Mile 1.5)

About 1.5 miles into the run (after passing two houses on river-right shore), the fairly continuous class I-II may increase to (at least marginally) class III for a short stretch, before continuing its class I-II boogie.



House/cabin, river-left (Class N/A, Mile 2.1)

Just a way-point. Immediately downstream, the river takes a very quick jig-jog (sharply right, then immediately left) as Class I-II action continues.



House/cabin, river-right (Class N/A, Mile 2.7)

Again, mostly a waypoint. Continuous Class I-II continues!



Island (Class N/A, Mile 2.9)

An island splits the flow. River-right may be slightly more flow. Be alert for possible snags. Class I-II action continues. (There may be a couple more significant waves/holes around this island.)



CC Road (Class N/A, Mile 3.1)

Various maps may show "CC Road" coming very near the river (from the left/West) at this point. From aerial views, this appears to be no more than a driveway and/or truck trail in the woods, coming back to a house, well off the river (not likely visible from the water).

IF that road is not gated and/or posted as private, it may be possible to shorten trip to this point. It is very likely you would need to seek permission, as this is probably all private property.

Class I-II water continues.



House/cabin, river-right (Class N/A, Mile 3.3)

Another waypoint. Class I-II water continues (perhaps a bit diminished, more just class I).



Islands/logjams (Class N/A, Mile 3.4)

A couple of rather small islands split the flow. It appears (for whatever reason) there may be an increased likelihood of deadfall/snags accumulating at the head of the islands or around one side. BE ALERT!



House/cabin, river-right (Class N/A, Mile 3.5)

Another waypoint. Swiftwater (class I) continues to another house/cabin river-left, and beyond.



House (barn?), river-right (Class N/A, Mile 4.1)

Another waypoint. A fairly sizeable structure (house or barn) appears on river-right. Riffles, rips, shoals (class I, marginally class II) are far more intermittent, as you are reaching the mid-run doldrums (low gradient).



SNAG CITY! (Class N/A, Mile 4.5)

The river is low-gradient at this point, and encounters an area of islands and braided channel. Massive amounts of wood will accumulate here. Do your best to find your way through the next quarter-mile before all islands and braids end and the flows come together. (As of present aerials, it looks as though heading FAR RIGHT may offer a channel with least problem . . . though take that with a big grain of salt.)



building (house? barn?) river-right (Class N/A, Mile 5.3)

Waypoint. Flatwater broken only by riffles and rips (class I).



Action increases (Class N/A, Mile 5.7)

After the flats (and snag city), some welcome gradient arises. The next 0.2 miles is class II, perhaps edging into class III.



House/cabin, river-right (Class N/A, Mile 6.1)

Waypoint. Prior class II-III has subsided, and yielded to intermittent class I-II.



Final Sequence (Class N/A, Mile 8.3)

The prior 2.25 miles is mostly flat/flowing mixed with riffles and rips (class I, perhaps a random class II). As you near the finish, gradient picks up substantially. You will likely wish to run to right before, under, or immediately past the Hwy.28 bridge, but be ready to exit, as gradient very quicly accelerates toward the Berglund-to-Sidnaw Rail-Trail bridge, and to Agate Falls immediately downstream. Failure to exit the river may not be fatal, but would extremely likely be painful (boat and body abuse).




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