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Best Places to Kayak in Michigan

Best Places to Kayak in Michigan

Kayaking is a much sought-after water sport and people from all walks of life indulge in it. In a state like Michigan, it is very popular and that is owing to the abundance of rivers and lakes. The freshwater coastline in the state spans over 3200 miles. You get plenty of quiet inland lakes, canals, water bodies, and sprawling rivers with stunning wildlife. In fact, 4 of the 5 Great Lakes flow through this state! The variety is amazing and the options are aplenty- both for those new to kayaking and seasoned users. What’s more, you can also pick from a wide range of agencies offering diverse kayaking tours in Michigan- all over the year.

When To Go Kayaking In Michigan?

In many kayaking destinations in Michigan, rentals are kept open yearlong. However, you may pick the time between May to September. Many prefer the summer months too.  You may also check the weather updates before venturing out for kayaking.

Best 16 Places to Kayak in Michigan

Listed below are some of the best destinations for Kayaking in Michigan:

Isle Royale

A major attraction in the Lake Superior, Isle Royale is preferred by seasoned kayaking lovers. Use the sit-on-top kayaks to explore this region. On the eastern side of the island, you can explore small lakes inside the lake, literally. The scenic beauty and wildlife are the bonus.

Pictured Rocks

Kayaking lovers in Michigan throng the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This is located at Lake Superior’s southern shore. There are plenty of things to explore and these include sea caves, arches. You may opt for guided kayaking tours too. However, do not expect serenity here most of the time. Be aware that Lake Superior has an unpredictable weather pattern. You may have to cope with chilling weather. The beaches are ideal for enjoying picnics with friends or you may just lie down after kayaking and get tanned! Visiting the place in spring is recommended owing to the blooming wildflowers.

Mackinac Island

This is for those adventure-seeking kayaking lovers who do not want to miss out on their amenities. You may paddle in the morning and then enjoy a lavish breakfast served at the Grand Hotel. You may also rent a bike to explore the pretty island.

Elk Rapids

This small-sized small village is located in Michigan’s Antrim County. On the north side of the village, there is the Elk River. Traverse City is there too. It is ideal when you want kayaking away from the city’s chaos and relaxes afterward. By a riverside, you will see tourists enjoying picnics.

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Area

This is ideal for nature lovers. The towering sandstone cliffs are replete with trees like birches, sugar maples, and pines. The paddling experience is fulfilling.

Sylvania Wilderness Area

Nearby the Wisconsin border, the pretty Sylvania Wilderness zone has a charm of its own. The wildlife is enticing and you will spot plenty of eagles hovering over and here are otters too. Sylvania’s lakes are ideal for paddling. The campsites are also quite nice and cozy.

Big Island Lakes Wilderness

Here you find almost 2 dozen lakes of varying size in a region spanning 5,800-acre. This is vast and largely uninhabited by humans. You will not have to pay any camping charges but maneuvering through the wilderness can be tough sometimes.

Huron river

It is quite natural for the veteran kayaking lovers to opt for the rivers rather than artificial lakes and reservoirs. The Huron River is what the Whitewater kayaking lovers choose. It is close to Ann Arbor a city bustling with life and with an impressive heritage. The vintage stores, coffee shops, and lush greenery will make you enthralled once you are done with paddling the waters. There are nice eateries to satiate your hunger pangs. The Huron River is preferred by Michigan residents who love kayaking simply because it’s easily accessible. It passes through important towns like Dexter, Flat Rock, and Ypsilanti. It also offers varying paddling conditions.

Manistee River

Are you one of those people who prefer paddling in quiet and serene locations rather than rivers and lakes thronged by the locals and tourists! If the answer is yes, then your kayaking destination in Michigan should be the Manistee River. It is 190 miles long and most of it is tranquil. If you are into angling too, this is a fishing Mecca! In the beginning, you get plenty of brook trout and downriver, it is the habitat of rainbow trout. For catching wild salmons, head to the Tippy Dam. You may just paddle until Lake Michigan and rest at the shoreline campsites in between. The Manistee River is wider than most rivers in Michigan and so sharing space with motorized vessels should not be a problem.

AuSable River

This is loved by those kayaking lovers who are also into angling activities. It is known for being a habitat of Trouts. You get 138 miles to paddle through. On the way, you can pick from so many campgrounds and bridges. So, you may pick this for long kayaking trips too. At the towns of Grayling and Milo, you get some Kayak rentals as well.

Manistique River

It is more than 60 miles long and you may spend 4-5 days kayaking the river. The north section flows through the beautiful and lush Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Needless to say, you get to see so many waterfowl species and plenty of fish species. It covers a couple of nice campgrounds in the south zone. The Merwin Creek State Forest Campground is popular. If you do not like camping opt for the Seney Wilderness Lodge.

Lansing River

It runs parallel to the Grand River and ends route at the Red Cedar River. You will spot so many events taking place along the river trail including international music festivals. This kayaking trail is not suited for serenity lovers. You will get many kayak rentals. It is also thronged by the angling lovers.

Platte River

Near the southern part of Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Platte River is thronged by the families more than the individual kayaking lovers. The water depth is shallow and the river bed is mostly sandy. It passes by Loon Lake. The journey ends at Lake Michigan. There are plenty of agencies offering kayak rentals.

Two Hearted River

While the majority of this river is not exactly suited for kayaking, you can try the mouth region.  The gorgeous coastlines and pebble laden beaches are amazing. It is one of the top trout streams in Michigan. A lot of people like this river for canoeing too. You should explore the place in spring.

Detroit Heritage River Water Trail

It can be a mixed bag. The beginning of this trail is wild but soon you get calm water and sail through one of the Great lakes while enjoying urban landscape! There are guided tour packages available too.

Island Loop Route National Water Trail

This loop offers something for every type of kayaking lovers. The Black River Canal, St. Clair River, and the Lake Huron- all have different settings and attractions.  The Black River is famous for flora and fauna. In the route, you see plenty of oaks, maple, and tiger lilies. Wildlife lovers will cherish the sight of rare Least bittern, great blue herons, and bald eagles.

Tips For Beginners In Kayaking In Michigan

Choosing The Location

In Michigan, the abundance of kayaking locations can leave you spoilt for choice. However, the beginners should opt for the rivers and lakes with calm water. Kayaking in seawater or canyons is not suited for those new in the sports. Whitewater kayaking will be downright risky for them.

Type Of Kayak

There are different sized kayaks you can buy. However, think of your body size and weight before choosing a model. The same logic is applicable when you opt for kayak rentals and guided tours in Michigan.

Taking Training

If you have never tried kayaking, it is better you take small training on it. There are agencies in Michigan offering weekend seasons on kayaking-which is suited for working professionals.

Carrying Required Accessories

Depending on where you indulge in Kayaking in Michigan, you may have to carry some accessories. This is required for both safety and convenience. These may include sunscreen, hat, wetsuit, small sticks to clear debris on water, etc. Carrying a lifejacket is a prerequisite.

Checking The Laws

If you are new to kayaking, it would be a good idea to check out the state laws on the subject.

Last modified: September 15, 2020
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