High water on the Paw Paw river

I spent yesterday afternoon on the Paw Paw in SW Michigan. In general it’s a friendly little river and paddling upstream is pretty easy. Yesterday it was flowing 1150 cfs against a norm of 600 for this time of year. It’s usually around 300 in the summer.


It’s pretty when you can’t really tell where the river is.

I love poking around flooded areas.

With all the sunken trees plus the current you do have to pay attention. I think its safer going upstream where you can pick the best line and change your mind if needed.

Going downstream you need to be cautious and prepared to backpaddle hard.


I passed about a half dozen spots where the river was just spilling over, like the headwaters of a creek. The one below was the only one that was small and gentle enough to approach for a pic. The strongest one I passed felt like it was pulling the whole river towards it, and almost spun my boat as I passed. Amazing (and a little spooky) to see and feel lots of water just spilling down some incline.

All in all a fine day. Sorry Rookie.

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I like paddling when the river gets up in the trees, but I’m not big on paddling upstream - shuttle trips for me :wink: You definitely need to be careful of the current.

Looks a lot like the Huron where I put in most of my miles. Dodgem trees is a lot easier to play going upstream. When the water gets too high some of the bridges are too low to pass under. And… when it floods like that in summer each trunk is slathered with stranded insects.

I take one of these along, helpful getting by some of the downed trees. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Corona-RazorTOOTH-7-in-High-Carbon-Steel-Blade-with-Ergonomic-Non-Slip-Handle-Folding-Pruning-Saw-RS-7245/202343683

Pretty area but I’d be a bit wary about those waterlogged leaning trees.

Looks like a great day! I paddled on the Silver River last year when the water was over the banks on the lower part of the river. Fun to paddle through the trees in an 18’ sea kayak!

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Looks like any river in Florida two weeks into the monsoon season.

Going upstream in it gives you lots of insight into your paddle technique.

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Also like upstream on the Grand above Onondaga. My friend and I call it “Michigan Jungle Boating”.

Sometimes you find that you are paddling on a “Water Trail”

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Ahh, I miss flooded rivers. My favorite during flood stage was the southern end of the Rum River before it met the mississippi. Many fun days dodging trees when flooded.

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I have lots of fond memories of paddling the Huron. I also carry a small folding saw.