Mid-Western Manitowish River
10 miles
3.5 hours

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Route Segment Distance
 Rest Lk Dam to Hwy 51 Landing 1.7 miles
 Hwy 51 Landing to Benson Lk Rd Landing 0.6 miles
 Benson Lk Rd Landing to Manitowish River Access Rd 1.7 miles
 Manitowish River Access Rd to Hwy 51 Wayside 2.3 miles
 Hwy 51 Wayside to Hwy 47 3.7 miles


Water Type: Wide and deep river.

Camping:  There are four primitive campsites on this route.

Additional Information: There is one section of small rapids on this route. 

Directions to Put-in:  Put-in is located just below the Rest Lake Dam in downtown Manitowish Waters.  There is parking available at Koller Park on Highway W.

Directions to Take-out:  Take-out is located 0.1 mile south of Highway 51 on Highway 47/182 in the town of Manitowish.  There is minimal parking available on the shoulder of Highway 47/182.

One of the most popular sections of the Manitowish River, the journey from the Rest Lake Dam to Highway 47 is easily navigable and offers both a variety and abundance of scenery. Put-in and take-out can occur at any of the locations listed in the table below. 

If you choose to begin in Manitowish Waters at the Rest Lake Dam, enter the river on its left side just below the dam.  The current will take you directly into Vance Lake, more or less a widening of the river. DNR campsite #50 is located on the far shore of Vance Lake.  As you continue down the river, you will encounter a slight riffle before the Manitowish widens again to become Sturgeon Lake.  Passing under the Highway 51 bridge brings you to the Highway 51 landing, another popular put-in point.  Until this point, the Manitowish is deep and calm enough that stand-up paddleboarding may be possible. 

Just past the Highway 51 landing are the only rapids you will encounter, about 70 yards of a Class 1 pick-me-up.  Easily traversable, especially in high water, these small rapids provide a little rush of excitement to the trip. Not far down the river on the right is the Benson Lake Road Landing, after which you enter Benson Lake.  Keep an eye out for wildlife here - eagles nesting overhead and sturgeon jumping from below. Further down river, on the right, is Circle Lily Creek - another put-in/take-out spot.  Circle Lily Creek can be accessed where the Manitowish River Access Road dead-ends. 

Around the bend is DNR campsite #51 and further along is campsite #52.  Both these sites are ideal areas to take a relaxing break from paddling, with picnic tables shaded by towering red pines.  Willows appear along the riverbank as you approach the Highway 51 wayside on the right.  This wayside is a popular put-in/take-out spot, and has picnic tables and restrooms as well. Past the wayside, the Manitowish changes character, leaving the trees behind and meandering through marsh, passing DNR campsite #53 on the right. Take-out for this section is at the Highway 47 bridge.  Go under the bridge and take-out immediately afterward, on the right.