Ontonagon, M.Br. - A) Burned Dam CG to Bond Falls Flowage (6.4-11.5 miles)


Ontonagon, M.Br., Michigan, US

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A) Burned Dam CG to Bond Falls Flowage (6.4-11.5 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 11 Miles
Avg. Gradient 9 fpm
Max Gradient 21 fpm

Stern squirt in a creeker - oh no!


Stern squirt in a creeker - oh no!
Photo of Scott Puthoff by Tom Sterling taken 05/31/11 @ 159 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
MIDDLE BRANCH ONTONAGON RIVER NEAR PAULDING, MI
usgs-04033000 150 - 1000 cfs I-II(III) 01h51m 171 cfs (running)
Likely low-boatable. (We need your input. Add a comment or report.) Gauge (164 sq.mi. drainage) lies midway down this reach, thus very accurately reflects actual flow.


River Description

Put-in is at Burned Dam Campground either above or below Mex-i-min-e Falls, a class III or IV rapid depending upon flow. It may be noted that one of the holes in this drop has been known to forcibly extricate paddlers from their boat. Experienced boaters may be most likely to just park-and-huck this drop.

The reach from there is a pleasant float with intermittent rockbed rapids. Little Falls is marked on the maps where the river enters the Bond Falls Flowage. It is quite possible that the falls itself is buried beneath the waters of the flowage as there is only a short class II drop there now. There is an egress paddle over the waters of the flowage to a public access point off Bond Falls Rd. Bond Falls is located below the dam on the north side of the road and is well worth a visit if in the area. Like Agate Falls downstream, it is a high drop onto rock and not runnable but very scenic.

As the final miles of river before the flowage are primarily moving water, paddlers may wish to use an alternate take-out at Interior Road.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-05 02:04:51

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Decent gradientN/A
3.2Minor ripsN/A
3.7Nice half-mile ripsN/A
4.8Horseshoe BendN/A
5.4Confluence, McGinty CreekN/A
5.6very minor ripsN/A
6.4Interior Road (5250)N/A
8.9Little FallsII

Rapid Descriptions

Decent gradient (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

Downstream of Mex-i-min-e Falls gradient very quickly peters out. A few minor areas of riffles and rips intersperse the otherwise flat-but-flowing water until you arrive about a mile downstream. As the river takes a sharp right, action increases just a bit (class I-II). Within 0.1 mile, it button-hooks to the left, and a couple ledge/wave/holes may be encountered (possibly very briefly verging on class III), and then quickly reverts back to class I-II before petering out to flat/flowing once again.



Minor rips (Class N/A, Mile 3.2)

After very nearly two miles of flat/flowing water, finally another short bit of minor rips (class I-II) is encountered. Flat/flowing water quickly resumes.



Nice half-mile rips (Class N/A, Mile 3.7)

About a half-mile of flat/flowing (around a couple of good horse-shoe bends) brings you to a left bend and gradient picks up nicely, yielding low-grade (class I-II) rapids for the next half-mile.



Horseshoe Bend (Class N/A, Mile 4.8)

After a hairpin right-hand bend (from North around to South), as the river quickly heads 90-degrees left (East) it encounters a stretch of low-grade (class I-II) rapids which does a sweeping left-hand horseshoe bend (to the North, then back to the West), and through a few more lesser bends before petering out (about a half-mile).



very minor rips (Class N/A, Mile 5.6)

Not far downstream of McGinty Creek, another stretch of low-grade (class I-II) riffles and rips is encountered. This will be rather intermittent, extending pretty well down to Interior Road.



Interior Road (5250) (Class N/A, Mile 6.4)

USGS gauge site (164 square miles)

In addition, many boaters may wish to take out here, as gradient is generally less downstream, there is just one 'significant' (named) rapids, and (unless one can travel some of the unimproved roads) egress involves paddling across the flowage.



Little Falls (Class II, Mile 8.9)

Less than a quarter-mile after passing a building (Cabin? Barn? Shack?) on river-right, the river bends left and trips across a minor ledge/hole (mostly to river-right). A brief pool and a right-turn leads to more river-wide scattering of ledge/waves (likely class II+). A slightly longer gap leads to a final ledge/wave before the river enters the backwater of Bond Flowage. If/when the water is high, this small ledge is very likely to be 'swallowed up' by the backwaters of  the flowage below.

It may be possible to carry out river-left to an unimproved road (if it is passable, not gated and not posted against trespass). Otherwise, paddle (2.5 miles) across the flowage to the listed take-out location.

Description and photos of this very short ledge/falls are available at: Waterfalls of the Keweenaw. Interestingly, they have it listed as being on "Interior Creek".




User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 3 2011 (2331 days ago)
Scott PuthoffDetails
Ran just the falls at 159 cfs and it was totally runnable. Didn't run down beyond that, but figure
that is probably runnable as well. Fun drop for sure!


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