Still Paddling…

Port Austin HarborOn June 13, 2009, I woke up in a tent overlooking Port Austin harbor.  The water was glass and the day was already hot. Twenty five other tents were set up around me.  The park had become a large rustic campground for kayakers from around the Midwest and Canada.  We had all come together for the 2nd Annual Port Austin Kayak Rendezvous in celebration of the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail

 At 10am, 60-70 of us gathered at the shore with our kayaks.  It was an amazing sight to watch the mass of kayakers paddle out of the harbor heading toward Point Aux Barques.

Point Aux Barques is at the very tip of the thumb.  It has magnificent rock formations, sea stacks and sea caves.  It has been called a mini Pictured Rocks. Boats can’t get to it so it is a perfect kayak destination.  Along the way we told stories and shared paddling experiences.  Once at our destination we paused to enjoy the scenery and share a snack. 

Port Austin Reef LighthouseFrom there some paddlers headed out to the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse.  Others paddled back along the shore.  Some of us were treated to an eagle flying over head and a deer that meandered out of the woods.

 Later that afternoon some kayakers headed out for a short paddle to Broken Rocks.  This is an area where huge boulders were left behind by the glaciers.  Others stayed on shore and watched a kayak safety demonstration.

 That evening most of us went to dinner together at a local restaurant. After dinner, the sunset was amazing and many could not resist one last paddle for the day.  We entertained ourselves throughout the evening with contra dancing and a bon fire followed by a sound night sleep.  It was a perfect day.

Chris Boyle, member and former Vice President of the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail.   Chris is currently paddling the entire trail compiling an inventory.  He has completed ¾ of the trail as of this date.  He also owns a kayak rental shop in Port Austin that services the trail.

Paddling along…

Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail Extending 110 miles around the geographical Thumb of Michigan, the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail’s diverse ecosystems and landscapes will satisfy all paddlers and accommodate all skill levels. 

 The west side of the Thumb, from Quanicassee to Sand Point, is a wildlife wonderland.  The shore is mostly undeveloped wetlands, the water is shallow, islands create protected harbors and the bird species are too numerous to name.  In the spring and fall this area is a stop over for migratory waterfowl.

 From Sand Point to Port Austin the shore transforms from wetlands to sandy beaches.  Port Crescent State Park hosts the largest sand dunes on the east side of the State and the tastiest wild blueberries.  The resort towns of Caseville and Port Austin have wonderful restaurants and shops. 

 Rounding the Tip of the Thumb and entering Lake Huron, the landscape dramatically changes to some of the most picturesque rock formations in the Great Lakes.  Receding glaciers left behind huge boulders, cliffs, sea caves and sea stacks.  The shoreline has the feel of a mini Pictured Rocks (but much safer to paddle).    

 The east side of the thumb is rugged, quiet and natural.  It is common to see eagles overhead and deer and raccoons along the shore.  Historical lighthouses in Port Austin, Port Hope and Harbor Beach are an added bonus to the trip. 

 The entire trail is dotted with campgrounds for those that want to paddle for more than a day.  The small towns along the shore are interesting, Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail pic 4fun and hospitable.  In the first weekend of June, the town of Port Austin hosts a kayak festival and transforms its shoreline into a huge rustic campground for paddlers.  Kayakers come from all around the Midwest come to paddle the trail. 

Chris Boyle, member and former Vice President of the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail.   Chris is currently paddling the entire trail compiling an inventory.  He has completed ¾ of the trail as of this date.  He also owns a kayak rental shop in Port Austin that services the trail.

Great Resources:

http://thumbtrails.com/

http://www.thumbkayak.com/blogger.html

http://www.huroncountyparks.com/

http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=486&type=SPRK

http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?type=SPRK&id=494

http://www.huronnaturecenter.org/