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Bear River Valley Recreation

Location: Along the Bear River from Lake Street south to Standish Avenue. Size: 36 acres, 1.5 miles in length. Main entrances off of West Lake Street and Sheridan Street.
Several local neighborhood pedestrian entry points as well.

Come experience one of Petoskey's best kept secrets - one of the Midwest's best whitewater recreation areas right in the heart of Petoskey. In 2010, the City of Petoskey undertook over $2 million dollars of improvements in the Bear River Valley Recreation Area including a .25-mile whitewater boating area in the Bear River. This improved whitewater course flows through an area that was once home to multiple dams and various industries - the Bear River has more fall than any river in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Today, you will find a river that has been beautifully restored, with walking paths and lookouts that will keep even experienced whitewater kayaks entertained and coming back for more.
logo_NCT_TrailTown_colorThe Bear River Valley also features steep bluffs, unpaved trails, concrete path, boardwalks, whitewater rapids, and forest areas all in the heart of the City of Petoskey. Natural forest and open space areas are rich in plant species and local history. The park is, for the most part, undeveloped and is currently used for primarily passive activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, rafting, environmental education, and rock hounding. There are several large open grass areas and shelters that can accommodate group gatherings. Its natural setting and high water quality of the Bear River make it an important ecological value within the City.

The City of Petoskey entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the North Country Trail Association that established Petoskey as a "Trail Town" of the North Country Trail. For more information, please visit The North Country Trail route through Petoskey includes the NCMC Natural Area, the Bear River Valley Recreation Area, and a section of the Little Traverse Wheelway.

Bear River Valley Recreation Area Map
Bear River History & Recent Improvements


  • Unpaved walking trails
  • Concrete Bike/Walking Trail
  • Boardwalks
  • Footbridge
  • Little Traverse Historical Society Bear River Heritage Center
  • Several parking areas & access points
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Restrooms
  • Pet Waste Stations
  • Shelter/Picnic Areas

rafting1Photo Provided by Tim Knusten

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