Seven major river systems flow within the forest, a staggering 1,000 miles of navigable waters for paddlers. Congress has designated more than 300 of those miles as wild and scenic or recreational rivers, leaving them largely in a pristine state.
In general, rivers like the Ontonagon and Presque Isle offer quiet water in their southern reaches, winding through relatively flat woodlands. North of M-28, they begin a more rugged descent through hills and bluffs, requiring higher skills and boats appropriate for white water. For strong paddlers with good white-water skills, these rivers offer some of the finest paddling in the Midwest.
Of course, all of this can change depending on rainfall and the time of the year. Rivers that normally flow gently can be torrents in the spring. Always check with national forest officials before setting out. Also, the Forest Service publishes an extensive River Digest (free) that outlines navigable rivers, launch areas, liveries, and high flow/low flow times. Pick one up at a district ranger office.