Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails

Considering that you can’t go more than five miles without finding a river, lake or stream, there are MANY opportunities to paddle throughout Michigan. From tubing down a calm river, stand-up paddleboarding across an inland lake, canoeing a multi-day wilderness river, hitting the whitewater or exploring the great lakes coastline, Michigan has it all.

Although there is not an official state-designated water trails program, Michigan's rivers and lakes have been used as trails for thousands of years. It dates all the way back to when Native Americans used the waterways for transportation.

Many of Michigan’s premier paddling rivers, such as the Au Sable, Manistee or Huron, offer outstanding paddling opportunities and have a series of public campgrounds and access sites. 

River Trips

If there is a navigable river, there is usually a local livery available. For more information, contact local liveries for paddling and rental information.

Many of the DNR’s state forest campgrounds are situated on rivers and can be used as a base for water-based recreation. 

For National Wild and Scenic River information (rivers in national forests), visit the U.S. Forest Service at www.fs.usda.gov.

Great Lakes Water Trails

There has been great initiatives to develop water trails for the Great Lakes and the DNR is working in partnership with neighboring states to further these efforts. Information on access sites along the Great Lakes shoreline and many inland rivers can be found at www.michiganwatertrails.org.