Getting to Turnip Rock: One Amazing Adventure
A trip to Port Austin is a fun one. This area is known for its spectacular Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, Port Crescent State Park (where you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights), Turnip Rock and so much more. To help you plan your trip, read on for Awesome Mitten's experience kayaking to one of Michigan's greatest natural wonders.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, I had the lucky charge of heading to Port Austin to learn more about the “tip of the thumb.” The only way to get to the rock and its friends is by the water since the area surrounding is private property, and the best means is by kayak.
Although the Fourth of July weekend was an exciting one to be in the area (the Farmer’s Market and fireworks were great), I wanted my experience with the beautiful limestone structures to be a little more private than what a holiday weekend might elicit. In order to avoid the crowds, I rose early on Sunday morning to enjoy the trip in the morning calm. This brilliant idea wouldn’t have been possible without the excellent guidance of the folks at Port Austin Kayak who not only supplied all of the equipment for my escapades, but they were also generous with some sound advice about other things I needed to see and do while in their beloved village.
After signing up from the kayaks and getting a quick rundown of the journey I was about to take on, I made my way to the launch area. Port Austin Kayak’s launch site is right behind their building and is the closest place to get in the water for the trek to the rock formations. If you rent from them, they are gracious enough to let your friends with their own kayaks launch from their spot, too. There was a quick lesson on how to use the equipment, and the paddling was in full effect.
Leaving from this spot, I was able to acclimate to my morning adventure in a small river leading to the Port Austin Marina and the harbor area that is protected by the Port Austin Breakwater. This calm beginning was just a precursor to the picture-perfect paddle toward the rock and tree formations that I was working toward. Along the coast, I was amazed by the clear-blue shallow water and the trees seemingly jutting out of the water in tiny strip-like islands. It was like being transported to another time and place that was quieter than the one we all deal with day to day.
Around every bend, I kept anticipating the huge rock formation to emerge from the water in front of me, but it kept evading me. I will admit, I might have paddled a little faster than necessary in anticipation. Believe me, it was well worth it when I finally made it around that bend after some intriguing sea caves. Turnip Rock is even better in person, and I started joining the other kayakers in taking photos and celebrating that I made it to a place I had only been dreaming about.
After drifting around a bit and discovering other beautiful sights around Pointe aux Barques and Alaska Bay, I started my journey back to Port Austin Kayak. I didn’t rest because I was hungry for a hearty breakfast on the mainland (The Lighthouse Cafe is a good choice).
Port Austin Kayak doesn’t rent out tandem kayaks for this particular trip because the waters get shallow, but the paddle isn’t too much work and it equates to about six miles round trip. I think it might be fun to try on a stand-up paddle board, but you should probably be pretty proficient at that as well. I’m not sure how much fun the adventure would be by any other means because the waters are shallow on the way to the rock, and getting close is half the fun. This experience alone was worth the trip to Port Austin, but my other adventures were awesome as well.
Joanna Dueweke lives and works in Detroit. When she’s not writing for The Awesome Mitten, or attending any number of events in Detroit, Joanna enjoys visiting other places in the state, sampling Michigan’s fine wines and craft beers, and getting in the water as much as the summer will allow.