Consider the North’s Inland Waterway your ticket to ride. A 40-mile stretch of interconnected lakes and rivers running from Pickerel Lake, just east of Petoskey, to Lake Huron’s shores in Cheboygan, the inland waterway is the longest continuous water route in the state. The best way to melt into its sleepy summertime pace: a lazy drift—water lapping, line trolling—as you putter away the day.
If you’re bringing your own boat, know that boats up to 65 feet long are welcome on the waterway, and the route is dredged to 5 feet deep and 30 feet wide, with minimum bridge clearance at 16.7 feet. (Note: There are also two locks to pass: one 15-foot on the Cheboygan River, and one 2-foot on the Crooked River in Alanson).
Don’t own a boat? Don’t worry. Pontoons, fishing boats, ski boats, kayaks and canoes are available to rent at various marinas along the waterway. Some to try: Indian River Marina (231-238-9373); The Landings on Indian River (231-238- 9955); or Alanson’s Ryde Marine (231-347-8273).
Fishing, swimming, sunning and nature watching are usually the main events on the waterway, but set aside time to come ashore in some of the quaint towns along its way: Indian River, Alanson and Cheboygan offer opportunities for food, cocktails and some shopping. If you’re looking to get in a little extra legwork, anchor offshore at Burt Lake State Park, where you can strut your sea legs on a mile-long walk in the woods.
Want to learn more about the history of this famed waterway, upon which steamboats carried pleasure-seeking Victorian passengers at the turn of the century, and as many as 50 Native American encampments called home in the last 3,000 years? You’ll find the whole story, plus artifacts and photos, at the Inland Waterway Museum in Alanson (6217 RIVER ST.)