Mid-Eastern Manitowish River
16 miles
5.5 hours

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Route Segment Distance
 H/K to Island Lk Boat Landing 8.3 miles
 Island Lk Boat Landing to Rest Lk Dam 7.4 miles


Water Type: River, crosses four large, heavily-trafficked lakes.

Camping:  There are seven primitive campsites on this route.

Additional Information: This route is very difficult on windy days.

Directions to Put-in: Put-in is located 2 miles west of Boulder Junction on Highway K.  There is parking available at the rest stop at Highway H and Highway K.

Directions to Take-out: Take-out is located at Koller Park on Highway W in Manitowish Waters.  There is parking available at the park.

Between Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters, the Manitowish River flows through a variety of scenery and two very different paddling environments - wilderness river and inhabited lake. To begin this section of the Manitowish, put in on river right just after the Highway K bridge and immediately downstream of a set of beautiful Class 2 rapids.  The first ¼ mile of this trip features shallow water, a rocky riverbed, and Class 1 rapids to send you on your way.  A kayak may fare better in this section than a canoe. After put-in, there are no designated stopping points for the next 8 miles. 

As the river widens and deepens, a natural obstacle course presents itself - downed trees cover much of the river width and boulders arise from the water, providing an opportunity for paddlers to test out their steering and maneuvering skills. This section of the river is quite forested, with high riverbanks.  Deer and kingfisher may be found here. Further on, the river widens and the surroundings become marshy.  Alder and wild rose cover the shoreline and muskrat can be seen swimming the river. As you approach Island Lake, two DNR campsites appear on the left, offering excellent river views. The Island Lake boat landing is on the left and serves as a nice take-out spot.  

Past the Island Lake boat landing, the journey to the Rest Lake Dam is comprised of a series of large lake crossings through the Manitowish Chain of Lakes.  This section of the Manitowish is the least remote, with lake homes, motorboats, and people abound. Do not attempt this stretch if it is windy!  To cross Island Lake, stay to the right shoreline, where you will find two sets of two campsites. Once across Island Lake, a small channel will bring you into Spider Lake, which turns into Stone Lake somewhere along the way. Go around the peninsula on the right, then hang to left shoreline.  You will see three campsites on the shore just before the 1.5 mile long channel into Rest Lake. Entering Rest Lake, stay to the left shore.  Take out is at Kohler Park, on the left side of the Rest Lake Dam. Rest Lake Park, located farther down the shoreline, is also a nice take-out point for this section.