As a result of WE Energies Wilderness Shores Settlement Agreement, removal of the Sturgeon Dam (near Norway, MI) has resulted in a paddling destination which is convenient to a few other popular runs (Piers Gorge on the Menominee and Horeserace Rapids on the Paint).
The removal (started in the summer of 2003, completed autumn of 2005) yielded 0.3-0.6 mile of whitewater located in a scenic gorge. This should be big water class III and IV during the high flows of early season and more moderate class II and III in the summer months.
See additonal 'User Comments' attached below for the most recent information regarding this reach.
We will add that paddling groups may differ on their preferred access for this run. Our listing is a 'full run' (with a shuttle to the most convenient upstream put-in) which actually starts out with 0.3 mile on a very tiny side-creek. Once on the Sturgeon, there will be an additional mile of flat/flowing water before the significant action begins. Thus, many paddlers opt to just park at the take-out (former dam site) and carry up. However, doing so generally means missing the 'dells', as the carry-up trail veers far from the river and you would have to do some major bushwhacking to get to a place above the dells where you could again access the river.
For more information about this area, please see WE Energies Wilderness Shores.
Upstream of our indicated put-in, it appears there may be one brief additional rapids. This may be accessible via a carry-up or via alternate access (logging roads off of Hupp Road or Foster City Road / 1 / 569), but may not be worth the extra bother and extra 1.0-1.75 miles (or more) of otherwise flat water paddling.
It may be possible to cutoff a mile (+/-) of flatwater access if apparent logging roads are passable with your vehicle(s) (and not gated or posted against trespass, and if you can park so as not to block passage).
The gradient begins about at this point.
The 'crux' of this run begins here.
In 2006 Ran at 1600 cfs. Carried up from the take out to about 1 mile above where the dam used to be just above a narrow dells. (The point where the canyon pretty much ends) and ran back to the parking lot. At 1600 cfs this run is a hoot! But be cautious to search for logs. During our run the rapid where the dam used to be had logs choking the main channel to river right so we had to take the river left channel. There are 3 holes at the end of the rapids that look pretty munchy. In fact 2 of our group got stuck in the bottom most hole on river right and kept them for a while before finally flushing them.
In 2007 Ran at same level and holes at end of run are now more like big waves and not so keepy. The river right channel just below where the dam used to be was log free, but looked low head damish. We took the river left channel again.
Myself and three others paddled this yesterday. It has
a very dramatic inner gorge with high banks of sand.
The re-bar appears to be gone and so is the dam, but
watch out for logs. We put in from a wooden bridge
off of G69. This gave us a long flatwater approach.
Although it was very scenic, and even had a little dells,
most whitewater paddlers will want to just carry up
and only run the whitewater.
* Gauge shown is for the Ford River, which is an adjacent watershed (at the headwaters of both streams), 30 miles to the East.
Direct correlation between the two streams is unlikely, but the cited gauge should be an indicator of general flow in the Sturgeon (i.e. high/moderate/low).
Drainage area of the Sturgeon (at Hwy.2, downstream of this reach) is 389 square miles, while the Ford at it's gauge is 450 square miles, suggesting flow in the Sturgeon might roughly correlate to 80% of the flow of the Ford gauge.
Min/Max (as currently set) are tentative (guesses). The majority of the run will undeniably be boatable higher (than set 'max'), but the final drop sequence will contain dynamic, sticky holes and will be a portage for most mortal boaters.
Historical flow records for the Sturgeon indicate that it should hold a runnable flow from ice-out into June, and thereafter will likely come to life regularly following summer thunderstorms.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Many boaters just do this as a carry-up, boogie-down, which allows scouting the crux final drops and the approach to them. However, the path encounters a dells and veers sharply away from the river, thus carry-ups will miss paddling that dells.
You may wish to use the text-entry box to input your home address or other starting location to get routing (drive time, distance, directions) to this boating destination.
Ledges of Dickinson
Sturgeon Dam, during removal
Sturgeon Dam, Phase I Removal
Dam Removal Phase I
Phase I Dam Removal
Sturgeon Dam, pre removal
Sturgeon Canyon ca. 1922, larger image
Sturgeon River ca. 1922
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