Photo Gallery Friday: Two Hearted River Kayak Trip
Photo Gallery Friday is a regular feature on Travel the Mitten that will help showcase photos from places where a few pictures just aren’t enough to show off everything.
The Two Hearted River has become one of the most famous waterways in Michigan, thanks to Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Big Two-Hearted River” (actually based on the East Branch of the Fox River near Seney) and Bell’s Brewery’s award-winning Two Hearted Ale. The river is one of the most beautiful locations in the Upper Peninsula, and is miles away from civilization. The river runs more than 23 miles before it meets Lake Superior. We’ve visited the rivermouth several times over the past few years, but in fall of 2017 we returned with kayaks and decided to head upstream for a few miles on the Two Hearted River. There is a boat launch and a large parking lot across the road from the Mouth of Two Hearted State Forest Campground (a rustic, first-come, first-serve 39 site campground), which was the starting point for our adventure.
The parking lot is located where the Two-Hearted River Life Saving Station once stood. A Michigan historical marker here tells of its history: “Here stood the Two-Hearted River Life Saving Station, built in 1876. This station, like many others on the Great Lakes, was of the second class — erected at a cost of $4,790 and manned by volunteer crews. The facility, a simple two-story building with a small lookout tower, housed a lifeboat and other necessary equipment for recovering endangered sailors. An average crew consisted of six to eight experienced surfmen. In 1915 the Life Saving Service was integrated into the U.S. Coast Guard. Several shipwrecks occurred near the mouth of the Two-Hearted River, also referred to as the Twin River and the Big Two Hearted River. Among these were the Cleveland (1864), the W. W. Arnold (1869), and the Sumatra(1875). After construction of the life saving station here in 1876, the lifesavers were responsible for brave rescues in the Satellite (1879) and the Phineas S. Marsh (1896) disasters. The station was decommissioned in the 1930s and the structure was razed in 1944.”
Almost immediately after launching our kayaks we passed under the wooden suspension footbridge that leads from the campground to the beach. The river is very calm with many bends, making for a relaxing paddle full of quiet and scenic beauty. In the fall, the tree-line banks pop with color, while in the spring they are teeming with green as everything starts to grow back. While we didn’t see any wildlife on our journey, on most days this route should be teeming with birds, small mammals, and more. We’d recommend this trip to just about anyone because it’s an easy paddle, great fishing river, and a great place to relax and enjoy nature (an a can or two of Bell’s Two Hearted!). Here’s a small gallery featuring our favorite pictures from our Two Hearted River Kayak Trip!