Muskegon River Croton Dam to Newaygo Oct 26, 2013

Rodney planned a trip down the Muskegon River from just below Croton Dam to Newaygo and invited me along. It's been over a year since I had paddled this stretch, and I looked forward to seeing without all the tubers that use it in the summer. We started below the dam about a mile downstream from where we ended two weeks ago.
The weather didn't look too promising. Forecasts of high winds and rain with mid 40 degree temperatures kept the group small with just the four of us. But except for a little rain while unloading our boats, we stayed dry on the river. The wind only proved to be a problem a couple of times.
There were still a lot of leaves on the trees, and even quite a bit of color. Even though the colors this year were not as good as they usually are, the color season has lasted longer than any in memory, probably due to the lack of a hard frost.
Aside from a few fishermen on different stretches of the river, we had the water to ourselves. The fish were plentiful, but they didn't seem to be catching many. There were more than a few dead fish along the river as the spawning season winds down, and I'm sure a warmer day would have made the smell unbearable.
The shallow waters on the Muskegon caused us to bottom out a few times, and I did have to get out and walk once.
Once we were past the main access spots, we had the river to ourselves. Even the cottages along the river were empty for the most part as they were closed up for the season.

Some trees had lost all their leaves, but the majority of leaves had yet to fall.

All in all, it was a nice trip today.The rain stayed away and we got to spend some time on the river. A day well spent.

Miles paddled today: 14.3. Year to date: 286.1.

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Little Muskegon River - Daggett Road to Croton Pond Oct 12, 2013

A trip down the Little Muskegon River was scheduled for Saturday October 12. I had done the upper section from Morley to Daggett Road in April, and have been anxious to do the lower section. Now I wish I had paddled this section sooner. It turned out to be one of the best paddles of the year.
We had seven paddlers again today, keeping the group smaller due to the size of the river. We got off to an early start, getting on the water by 10:15. With smaller groups and a river close to home, that is a lot easier to do.
The forecast for the day was clear skies with temps in the mid 70s. Perfect kayaking weather for this late in the season.
There were several trees that had to be maneuvered around or under, but only one where we had to get out of our kayaks. A couple of shallow spots where we had to get out and walk were the only low points of the trip.
The solitude along the river was very relaxing, and even the few cottages along the way were not much of a distraction.
The fall colors were still not that great, and leaves were already starting to fall off the trees. With the cold wet weather predicted for the next week there may not be many left next weekend.

The river bottom also varied from sand to gravel to clay, much like the Pine River.

There was a variety of water conditions along the river, from mild riffles to slow, steady current, and a few submerged rocks to bounce off to keep you on your toes.

A fantastic sand island in the river provided a perfect spot to stop for lunch. It would be a great swimming hole in warmer weather.

The last tree down along the river. A couple of us had to get out of our kayaks to get under the tree. The water was about an inch deeper than our boots, so our feet did get a little wet.

The river started widening and the banks flattening as we neared Croton Pond behind the dam.

The water was very shallow as we entered Croton Pond.We had to pick our way through the channels to keeep from getting stuck.

A slight breeze added a little chop to  the water on the lake.
Nearing the takeout at the Driftwood Inn.

An absolutely wonderful day, the type of paddle you never want to end. We will have to do this section more often. And being only an hour from home makes it all the better.

Miles paddled today: 13.5. Year to date: 271.8.