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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Destination: North Rivers Lodge

Updated: Mar 7


Aerial view of historic North Rivers Lodge on the little Manistee River in Michigan

Country: USA

City, State/Province: Luther, Michigan

Main Activity: Fly Fishing

Other Activities: Hiking, Paddling, Trail Riding, Foraging, Upland Hunting, Whitetail, Bear, and Turkey Hunting


Overview:

Nestled within the Manistee-Huron National Forest in the heart of North West Michigan’s Blue-Ribbon trout-stream country, North Rivers Lodge is situated on over a quarter-mile of the wild and scenic Little Manistee, or “Little River” to the locals, and affectionately “The Little Man” to the angler.


coffe mug on the table with morning light spilling through the lodge window

The classic architecture and rustic charm of these early 20th Century cedar log cabins hearken back to a simpler time when sportsmen would retreat to Michigan’s northwoods and rivers to fish, hunt, and explore. The restored cabins of North Rivers Lodge overlook one of Michigan's most noted spring creek settings and embody all the rustic charm of old “Up North” Michigan.


The property has gone through many incarnations, modifications, updates, renovations, and even some neglect, followed by years of rebirth through the current owners, Joe and Lisa Neumann, who acquired it in 2016.


North Rivers is open year-round, welcoming fly fishermen, canoeists, trail riders, foragers, hunters, travelers, and vacationers to take advantage of the area’s wild and scenic landscape. Whether you are seeking adventure, solitude, or both, North Rivers Lodge makes the perfect basecamp.


fly fishing waders hanging outside the lodge

Activities:

Centrally located in Michigan’s river country, paddling in the nearby Pere Marquette, Pine, and (Big) Manistee rivers (along with their cold, spring-fed tributaries) are popular warm-weather attractions. But the main event most of the year is fly fishing.


The Little Manistee’s coldwater springs, woody habitat, and rich biodiversity combine to create outstanding traditional dry-fly fishing for wild trout. Feisty rainbows, well-fed browns, and vividly colored brook trout can all be found rising to prolific insect hatches that sustain this exceptional fishery. Early spring stoneflies, mayflies, and caddis start the trout season in dry-fly fashion while summer hatches, terrestrials, and even mice keep the fish looking up and feeding well all the way into fall.


When the leaves begin to change, great migrations of king and coho salmon move up river, followed by the famous steelhead run which continues through the winter months and peaks in early spring.


The private river frontage at North River is strictly fly-fishing-catch-and-release-only and maintained for optimal trout habitat with plenty of structure, overhanging limbs, and tall grasses along the banks. The tight quarters and small, clear water can make for technical fishing, but the outstanding habitat will reward the stealthy angler with trophy-sized fish.


Two anglers standing on the river bank waiting to fly fish

Numerous nearby rivers provide a range of additional angling opportunities. Or, if you need to up your game, North Rivers Lodge offers fishing schools and casting lessons for groups and individuals by appointment (kids aged 12-17 receive free fly fishing instruction and casting lessons, Monday through Thursday, from June through August). Guided fishing trips are also available by reservation.


Beyond fishing, miles of trails can be explored by hiking, mountain biking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, or ATV riding and most are accessible directly from the lodge. Plus, the public lands of the surrounding Manistee-Huron National Forest offer ample opportunity for foraging, upland, and big-game hunting for the active outdoorsman.


If you are looking for something more leisurely, consider cocktails by the fire, games around the table, coffee along the river, or a book on the porch.


A journal sitting on the screened porch of North Rivers Lodge in the morning

Amenities:

North Rivers has a wide selection of cabin styles and sizes from smaller, cozy options sleeping one to two, up through a five bedroom location that can sleep as many as ten.


All cabins have a bathroom with shower (bring your own soap and shampoo), a kitchen or kitchenette, picnic table, fire pit (stocked with wood and cooking grate), and charcoal grill (bring your own charcoal). Bedding, linens, vessels, pots, pans, utensils, coffee maker, refrigerator, stove, and microwave are included as well. Most cabins are also well stocked with games and books.


The Little River Fly Shop is located onsite and offers local fly patterns, leaders, tippet, tools and packs from Umpqua, and fly rods and reels from TFO, as well as a small selection of books and assorted branded merchandise. For other needs, Baldwin Bait and Tackle, The Pere Marquette Lodge, and 1884 fly shop are a short 20-minute drive south in Baldwin.


For essentials and grocery basics your closest options are Corner Express to the North at the intersection of M-37 and M-55, a couple small convenience stores south on M-37 near Wolf Lake or, for better selection, in the town of Baldwin at Houseman's Food Center or the M-37 Meat Shack south of town.


Nearby dining includes: Logger's Landing in Luther about 10 miles East off Old M-63, Oak Grove Tavern just to the Northwest in Irons, Club 37, just a quick drive South, Barski a little further beyond that, 876 Baldwin and Shoey's Log Bar – about 20 minutes away in Baldwin, or Chase Creek Smokehouse about a 30-minute drive, East on US-10 between and M-37 and US-131.


American flag flying at North Rivers Lodge in Luther. Michigan

Highlights:

I had the opportunity to stay at the lodge over Father's Day weekend with my dad and two adult sons. We roomed in the Big Bear, the largest of the riverfront lodge houses – boasting five bedrooms, a full bathroom, large living room, dining area, well-appointed kitchen, long front porch with sliding windows, a covered outdoor gathering area, two picnic tables with charcoal grill, and a river-side fire-pit.


The grounds of the 12-acre property are beautifully maintained with paths along the river, a few intentionally limited access points, sitting areas, and trout habitat to die for.


The affordable accommodations were exceptionally clean, well-stocked, and northern-Michigan-cabin charming. Joe and Lisa live right on property and were very friendly and gracious in providing local information and fishing insights.


While cooler nights slowed down the normal hatches, we spent plenty of time wading the Little Manistee, Pine, and Pere Marquette rivers. The technical-nature of the Little Man proved a little difficult for my meager abilities, though lack of feeding fish certainly was not the issue, as evidenced by plenty of stealthy sips and gorging gulps all around.

Man cooking steaks over a campfire

We chose to cook our own meals and enjoyed bacon and egg breakfasts, venison brats on the grill for lunch and venison burgers and T-bones (with baked potatoes) cooked over the fire for dinner, all while watching deer and other wildlife quietly visit the pristine river.


Midday lulls were perfect for exploring the area, heated gameplay, and a quick nap or two. Post dinner was spent with pipes and cocktails by the riverside fire under the stars. With all the opportunities in the area, we really should have stayed a whole week.


North Rivers Lodge makes the ideal getaway for larger groups, couples, or even individuals looking to take part in the wild splendor of Northern Michigan in any season. The historic lodging harkens back to the simpler days of Michigan's yesteryear (while providing modern conveniences) and is especially well suited for fly anglers, spring foragers, upland, and big game hunters.


Three guys telling fishing stories at a picnic table in the summer with pipes

Pricing: Ranging from $85 to $300 per night and accommodating from one to ten guests depending on the cabin. North Rivers Lodge is pet friendly with a $15/per pet/per night fee.


Getting there: The lodge is located in Northwest Michigan at the intersection of M-37 and Old M-63 (North of US-10 and South of M-55).


Contact info:


Email: Stay@Northriverslodge.com

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1 commento


Ospite
23 giu 2023

My (big) family have stayed there. Joe and Lisa are great and I actually relaxed.


Mi piace
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