Canoeing Lower Mi

I will be coming to Grand Rapids for a table tennis tournament the first few days in July. Afterwards I would like to get in a week or so of paddling. I will be paddling a Wenonah Argosy solo caneo which I both single and double-blade as conditions warrant.

My requirements for picking destinations

  1. Out and back trips only since I am solo and too cheap to pay for shuttles. I don’t mind paddling upstream against 1-2 mph currents so some river trips would be possible.
  2. Primarily day trips although overnight trip is also reasonable.
  3. As much wilderness as I can get within the limits of the first 2 requirements.
  4. Minimal (or none) open water crossings since I am solo.
  5. Flatwater paddles only.
  6. First choice would be lower Mi, but I am willing to drive up to the UP for an exceptional destination.

    Thanks for any suggestions and information you can give me.


welcome to
Michigan & all its beautiful paddling venues.

How far (miles, hours) are you willing to travel for paddling once you’re in Grand Rapids? That would help w. suggestions as there as dozens and dozens of rivers in both peninsulas.

For example, the stately Grand River, the longest in Michigan, flows as far southeast as Jackson Center and empties into the big Lake (Lake Michigan) at Grand Haven. It flows thru Grand Rapids. Class I &II, easy to paddle in both directions, a variety of portages easy to PITA:

There are so many incredible rivers to the north and west of G.R. many passing thru large national forests w. superb campgrounds - private & federal, primitive to all the comforts, that are a kayaker’s or canoeist’s paradise if you do decide to squeeze in an overnight you will be richly rewarded w. peace and natural beauty.

A little background:

First two weeks in July is plant shutdown for the auto companies, their Tier 1 suppliers & many other suppliers in the food chain. So campsites, etc. will be very full as of Friday July 2.

Due to that & also that it’s high season for paddling, the most popular western rivers like the Pine, the Manistee & the main fork of the Au Sable, will be heavily used. Although much of the really bad behavior (ramming other boats, pissing mindlessly, males exposing themselves to women & children) by drunken dork floatillas has been curbed in the last 5 years ago it’s not the ideal experience for wilderness and solitude.

Those rivers are best done on the weekdays. The Pine requires a permit, which is free at specified MDNR locations. Advance is better as choice weekend and holidays fill up, and only a certain number of people are allowed any given day to give people a better river experience (& curb said dorkage).

Choose less travelled rivers. Michigan is chock full of them, I can’t list all of them. Let us help you after you tell us how far you’ll drive to get to one.

An outstanding softcover book: Canoeing Michigan Rivers, covers 45 of them in both peninsulas:

Lastly, re shuttling, some of the best venues really are more doable w. a shuttle… or you can pay a company like Michigan Trailspotters to pick you up after you car spot:

or local folks will car spot also, for less than the traditional shuttle service .Liveries will know of the locals, and Trailspotters has a useful website with lots of info, and online reservations w. PayPal.

The owner is a great guy, a paddler and runs a first class operation. He has extensive river knowledge. You might contact him beforehand for suggestions then book accordingly.

Not affiliated w. it, just a very satisfied customer.

Michigan waterways
Basically Michigan breaks down as such :–Where-to-Kayak-in-Metro-Detroit

the link above by

– Last Updated: Jun-10-10 6:00 PM EST –

the Examiner blogger guy is useful mainly for the clicks he hopes to get, it really is not on point in answering your query.

Mark *you* are going to be in *Grand Rapids* in the middle of *western MI* & those blog links are for rivers in and north of *metro Detroit*.

Grand Rapids is a 3 hour drive from Ann Arbor - I know, I drive it - and 4 hours plus from the Detroit, 5 from Oakland County.

if you like, email me direct (after Monday when I'm back) for some good beta. There's also a yahoo group, Paddle Michiana, which does trips in lower southwestern and middle western MI - their trip reports are often good. Join, you can see them, and ask the members questions. There are some very well informed folks there who have kayaked & canoed western MI rivers many times.

This'll be my last post before I finish loading up for the South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous, so
have a great weekend all, hopefully nicely seasoned w. paddling :D

The AuSable Dam Ponds
Some of the ponds on the Ausable are good flat water, out and back paddling (these are lakes). My favorite is Cooke Pond with 3 choices for a put in, some high sand banks to check out, quite a few islands and Iargo springs on the west end. It’s about 8 miles long and mostly national forest with many campsites that can be reserved on line here or at the Lumberman’s Monument visitor center on the south shore of Cooke Pond. Foote pond is about the same size but more developed, still beautiful. Upstream, Loud pond and Five Channels pond offer a more peaceful setting. Great area, several days worth of good flat water paddling if that’s what you are looking for. It is about 200 miles from GR to the Visitor Center on Cooke Pond.

One more, Matiny Lake

– Last Updated: Jun-14-10 6:42 PM EST –

*Martiny Lake*, misspelled above
This is a state game area near Mecosta, not too far north of Grand Rapids. This is a circular chain of lakes with a lot of state land and wildlife. I've only paddled it in early spring so I don't know how much traffic it gets in the summer, but week day mornings can be pretty peaceful most places in MI. You can make it through the whole chain of lakes and end up back to your put in if you just keep poking around the shore line of each lake until you find your way into the next lake. Fun place to explore and it offers at least 6 miles of paddling. I put in at the boat launch on the west side of Lower Evans Lake, 17 Mile Rd. north of Mecosta.

Martiny Lake
hi Sharon- u meant Martiny Lake, right?

I’ve been meaning to explore that one. Someone had a good post about it last year. Plus the name is fetching


missed you at SBI :frowning:

Thanks for the suggestions
Looks like I will be trying out Martiny Lakes, Croton and Hardy Ponds and the Muskegon River below Croton damn. I found a relatively cheap car spotting service for the river trip so I can do at least one downriver trip. Also considering Tippy Dam Pond if time permits.

Thanks again for the ideas.