Row, row your boat, canoe, raft or kayak--gently or otherwise--up the streams, rivers inland and Great lakes for a Pure Michigan paddling adventure. With 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline--more than any other state in the country--you can enjoy a quiet glide along a ribbon of water or follow a shoreline water trail on an inland sea. Don’t own a canoe or kayak? Rent gear from nearly 30 members of the Michigan Association of Paddlesports Providers so you won’t go up river without a paddle.
Newaygo Hosts National Championships
This year the winding waters of the Muskegon River will welcome paddlers age 5 and up for the annual United States Canoe Association’s National Canoe & Kayak Championships in Newaygo, August 9-14. The event attracts more than 500 paddlers from 30 states and Canadian provinces. There are sprint races and a 16- to 18-mile marathon that begins with a 6-mile circumnavigation of Croton Pond followed by a running portage around the 101-year old Croton Dam, launching into the Muskegon River below, and paddling 12 miles downstream to Henning Park at Newaygo.
The city of Newaygo is gearing up a huge volunteer effort to welcome participants and visitors to the event, which began in 1968; this is the fifth time Michigan has hosted the annual championship. Newaygo is located northeast of Muskegon, and sits on the edge of the Manistee National Forest. There are several options for camping, cottage rentals, resorts and motels. For all types of water sports, Newaygo County has 234 lakes and 356 miles of rivers. Take advantage of local canoe and kayak rentals, or fish for bass, trout, walleye and pike. The Muskegon River is ranked among the top 20 by Field & Stream magazine for fishing, and in the top 12 in National Geographic for recreation.
Michigan offers several water trails for coastline kayak and canoe trips. The Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trails is along Michigan’s Lake Huron’s shoreline. The Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail begins in Holly for a seven mile paddling trip. The Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail is a canoe and kayak trail encompassing 21 miles of the South Branch of the Black River between the cities of Bangor and South Haven. Not all of the water trail is completed as yet, so be sure to call ahead for information.
Located in the Upper Peninsula, the Hiawatha Water Trail runs 120 miles from Big Bay to Grand Marais with scenic paddling of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and more. The Keweenaw Water Trail can be covered by an average paddler in six to eight days with a mixture of uninhabited wilderness areas, intermittent parks and nature preserves and sheltered harbors.
More Canoe Adventures
Enjoy northern Michigan canoeing on the Platte River where you can choose the Lower Platte for a two-hour easy going trip, or the Upper Platte for a fast paddle best suited for experienced canoe and kayakers. Canoe rentals are available three miles away in Honor. Check out the Platte River State Forest Campground where there are 26 sites for tent and small trailers, available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eleven miles to the West is Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with over 30 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and spectacular sand dunes.
You are never more than an hour's drive from one of Michigan’s 98 state parks or recreation areas where canoeing, kayaking and fishing are favorite activities for families. Admission to the parks and boat launches requires the new Recreation Passport, which is $10 annually for residents, $8 per day or $29 annually for non-residents. The fee goes to preserve and protect local parks, trails and historic and cultural sites in state parks.
There are also several Huron-Clinton Metroparks in Southeast Michigan that offer canoeing and kayaking for the entire family. Visitors can rent canoes or kayaks and leisurely wind around a lake or river.