Big Iron, W.Br. - Forest Hwy.360 to White Pine (3.9 - 17 miles)

Big Iron, W.Br., Michigan, US


Forest Hwy.360 to White Pine (3.9 - 17 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 3.9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 29 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Big Iron Approximation
virtual-130824 300 - 1200 cfs I-II(III) 01h10m ~ 51.72 cfs (too low)
Undoubtedly too low for reasonable whitewater. W.Br.Iron at listed put-in is ~33 square miles, or about 1/3rd the area of Big Iron at it's former gauge site. Flows may be about 1/3rd its virtual gauge.

River Description

Quick Facts:
Location:Western Upper Peninsula, approximately 11 miles NW from Bergland.
Shuttle Length: up to 16.5 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Fine northwoods float.
Drainage area at uppermost listed possible put-in: approximately 13 square miles.

Uppermost put-in elevation is approximately 350 meters or 1148'.
Take-out elevation (after confluence with Big Iron) is approximately 760'.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 388'.

Information (lat, lng, elev, total drop, run length, shuttle length) adjusted and/or verified from best manual extrapolation of online data (via, distance measuring tool, and other resources). 2009.01.30

We are aware of some runs on some segment of the West Branch of the Big Iron River. We have no specific knowledge of put-in and take-out which have been used. The best gradient (not that any of it is that steep) is on the final stretch of the West Branch, before merging with the main Big Iron. Thus, that is the 'primary' stretch detailed here. The listed rating of class I-II(III) is highly tentative, based only upon gradient and what is observable from a 'virtual walk' via Google.

In case anyone cares or dares to explore further, we will list details and provide logistics for what seem likely upstream access points. It is unknown how possible either upper access is. Both of these upper stretches appear as though they would be potentially scenic floats, as they appear to be in a bit of a gorge or steep valley. Again, the final ('primary') segment (as detailed in this listing) is the higher gradient reach, and has readily apparent ledge/drops.

The resolution on Google Maps for this area is excellent. Therefore, we highly recommended going to the 'Map' tab, clicking 'Satellite', zooming in to the maximum resolution available (without losing image), and doing a 'virtual walk' of this reach!

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-12-31 17:52:08

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-13.3Uppermost Possible PutinN/AAccess
-6.3Alternate Access #2N/AAccess
-3.5Rock GardenN/A
-3.2More rock gardenN/A
-2.8Rocky IslandN/A
0.5Confluence, Loggerhead CreekN/A
1.0Rocky JumbleN/A
1.8Confluence, Big IronN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Uppermost Possible Putin (Class N/A, Mile -13.3)

Coordinates of uppermost possible access point: 46.6880 -89.7555
(Cut+Paste those values into the text-entry box on the 'Directions' tab to see routing to this location.)

Elevation here is (roughly) 1148'. It is about 7 miles to the next listed access point (at about 1021' elevation), for a total drop of ~127', and an average gradient of ~18FPM on this uppermost section.

Alternate Access #2 (Class N/A, Mile -6.3)

Coordinates of alternate access point: 46.7198, -89.6945
(Cut+Paste those values into the text-entry box on the 'Directions' tab to see routing to this location.)

Elevation here is (roughly) 1021'. It is about 6.25 miles to our listed/recommended put-in (the next listed access point, at about 872' elevation), for a total drop of ~149', and an average gradient of ~24FPM on this second upper section.

Confluence, Loggerhead Creek (Class N/A, Mile 0.5)

Loggerhead Creek enters from river-left. On aerial views, trees obscure the river, but it appears there could be a bit of a stretch of rapids through this area.

Rocky Jumble (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

Aerial view seems to show an odd rocky jumble through here -- perhaps odd splines of bedrock, mostly parallel to the flow.

Confluence, Big Iron (Class N/A, Mile 1.8)

The West Branch ends as it meets the Big Iron River. Immediately downstream, a large island splits the flow, extending about 3/4ths-of-a-mile downriver.

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