At a Glance
- Rainbow Rapids Access: 8952 W. Wingleton Rd, Township of Branch, MI 49402
- This section of the river maintains much of its forest integrity, even though it is mostly privately owned.
- River miles in this section: 5.8 miles
- Float time is approximately 2 hours
- For more information, view the Pere Marquette National Scenic River map (pdf).
Note: Due to the federal designation of the Pere Marquette as a protected river, U.S. Forest Service permits are required for all watercraft (kayaks, canoes, tubes, etc.) between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Click here for more information or call 877-444-6777.
Rainbow Rapids access is located on Wingleton Road, about 8 miles west of Baldwin. Restrooms and picnic areas exist at both Rainbow Rapids and Upper Branch Bridge sites. Though camping is not available at either of these sites, it is available at the Sulak access site, which exists between Rainbow and Upper Branch. Fees apply at USFS sites, which include both Bowman’s and Rainbow sites. There are amenities nearby in Baldwin – Jones Ice Cream is highly recommended–and along US-10, which is a few miles north of the Upper Branch site.
What to See
This section of the river maintains much of its forest integrity, even though it is mostly privately owned. This portion is deeper than upstream, though there are areas that are still wade-able along the edges.
The Pere Marquette River has exceptional water quality, relatively undamaged habitat, and scenic beauty. It is federally designated as a Wild & Scenic River and state designated as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. This medium sized river has a good current, is a renowned cold water fishery, and is the only undammed river in the Lake Michigan watershed.
In this section, Tank Creek and Sweetwater Creek flow into the mainstem of the river. Both are high-quality, cold water contributors. Conservation plays an important role in preserving the integrity of the river and surrounding forest as it prevents the subdivision of land and unmanaged timber cutting.
Through partnerships with families, the Land Conservancy has protected 3,300 acres of land and 26 miles of river frontage in the Pere Marquette River watershed. Along this particular stretch, the Land Conservancy worked with the Bigford family to secure their private property in perpetuity with a conservation easement.