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Paddle the Huron River in the Island Lake Recreation Area

Island Lake Pathway, Michigan


Added by Travis Smith

Just as scenic as most rivers up north but right in Southeast Michigan!

Park at the Island Lake Picnic Grounds, also known as the Kent Lake parking lot.  Look for a spot on the west end of the parking lot and carry your kayak down to the river – but don’t worry, they have installed a nice little kayak slide to assist you as you walk down the river bank!  Simply, place your kayak onto the slide and walk it down with you to the water.

Once in the water, your paddle westward begins with beautiful clear, sandy water and moderate current. The scenery is beautiful here – comparable to the finest stretches of rivers I’ve kayaked in northern Michigan!  The only negative is the noise of the shooting range when it’s open.  Best bet – plan your trip when the shooting range is closed: Tuesdays, or before 10am.

As you float, the river stays clear with lots of trees and wildlife. Thanks to the park and the local liveries, you should not have any obstacles or portages the entire way, so sit back and relax!  Keep an eye out for fish and lots of wildlife found on the riverbanks.

There are two major access sites downstream.  The first is called Riverbends (off Sutherland Rd), and you will come to that 3.6 miles into your paddle: approximately 1-2 hours.  The second is called Placeway (off Placeway Bridge Rd), and you will come to that 5.4 miles into your paddle: approximately 2-3 hours.

The most beautiful stretch of the river is the beginning to Riverbends.  After the Riverbends site, the river gets a little less clear and a little slower.  It’s still a really nice paddle, just not quite as nice as the first 3.6 miles!

The easiest bet kayaking a river is to plan ahead and put a car where you will finish.  But the good news here is that the paddlers are served by a local livery.  I’ve never had trouble contacting the livery and having them transport me back to my car for a small fee.  They usually, however, will not transport your kayak too.

When you get back to your car, you can swim in Kent Lake or hike one of the trails that start right where you first parked.  My personal favorite: drive to Spring Mill Pond and find the hiking trailhead on the northeast side of the parking lot.  Hike to a swimmable secluded lake or continue hiking the trails east to find some impressive 60 foot sand dunes!  

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