Huron River Kayaking

Are you looking for exercise, serenity, a chance to explore, and a feeling of being at one with nature? Perhaps all of these are at your own back door in Southeast Michigan with the Huron River.

My area is the chain of lakes in Livingston and Washtenaw county.  There is also good Kayaking North and South of me on the Huron River,  Although South of Ann Arbor is not as kayak friendly as the portages have not been designed to be river trip friendly.

The Huron is considered to be flat-water kayaking. There are a couple short stretches South of the chain of lakes with white water that can be avoided if you desire.  The problem with power boats is that in no time at all, the entire body of water has been traversed.  Some people enjoy this, considering it as just travel time to get to their destination to fish, duck hunt, swim, or just relax. I want to be able to appreciate the journey. Perhaps I’m more journey oriented than destination oriented when it comes to enjoying the water.   That is why I enjoy flat water kayaking so much even in less than perfect weather.

The chain of lakes and river  that can be negotiated in a powerboat end to end in a little over one hour, is a full day’s adventure for the paddler. The degree of exercise depends on how hard one paddles.  It is up to you.  For me, as I start such a journey, initially I found myself approaching it with the same rush as in my weekday life. Then the rhythm of the paddling takes over.

The rush to get somewhere disappears and the journey becomes that which is important.  The steady rhythm of the padding melts away the tensions of the week, plus the excess calories, the relaxation that follows allows me to take in the beauty of the slowly passing scenery around me. It is peaceful and yet exciting.

My experience is such that paddling has become automatic. Paddling a kayak involves the entire body, not just the paddle.  I have a sense of being one with the boat, you become the boat, and the boat puts me so close to the water, that I soon feel to be a part of it as well.  I have watched the great blue heron eye me as it decides when to take flight, or stay frozen like a decoy. I have had deer run across streams in front of me, and watch me from the shore.  I have paddled by wary turtles sitting on floating logs on the shore. Because of the slow pace of the kayak or canoe, otherwise small bodies of water become potential sources of adventure and there are more lakes and rivers nearby that I can visit and explore.

Southeast Michigan Lakes and Rivers for kayaking map

The Huron River is a highly accessible river and is a  favorite getaway for families throughout the Detroit metro area. It winds through expensive lakeside developments of northwestern Oakland County and peaceful farm country around the villages of Hamburg, Dexter, the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to the busy industrial communities downriver from Detroit. The river still has a rural remote feel despite its proximity to development with numerous small towns and larger cities.

So if you have never been kayaking, even now in the late fall there are still some opportunities to paddle.  Now is also the time to take some training indoors to get into kayaking the right way and the safe way.  There are introductory classes available, and more advance classes as well which I’m planning on this winter.  There are many resources to find instruction, people I would recommend just from having personal contact with them are the following links:

Expanding Horizons
Black Parrot Paddling
Kayak Corral

Audio Podcast

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  1. Michael

     /  April 29, 2014

    Came across your website, one of the few it seems out there about places to kayak in Southeast Michigan. I just bought a kayak and all the gear I need so I’m looking for some places to start out if you don’t mind sharing? I live right at Pontiac Trail and Beck Road right where Wixom and Novi meet, with Walled Lake right down the street. I’m thinking about starting off there?

  2. You did not state the type of kayak, Walled Lake is fine to start, stay close to shore until your skills improve and you take some lessons. I would suggest you go to a kayak symposium for lessons or check out RKC downriver.

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