Day 5: Lower Huron Metropark to Lake Erie
6.5 hrs paddling
After another quiet and peaceful night camping, we’re up early for an 8 am start. Mike George arrives to accompany us as far as Oakwoods Metropark, and Jim Pershing, Superintendent for the Park arrives to bid us a Bon Voyage.
This next stretch of river is perhaps the best kept secret of the whole river. It’s surprisingly remote and mostly natural with few houses or intrusions; only negative is the constant noise of jet traffic overhead (choose a day with north winds if you can when paddling this stretch, as the jets will be taking off in the other direction). Herons, Kingfishers and Orioles escorted us along the banks. Sycamores, Catalpas and Redbuds provided the greenery. We didn’t glimpse the Paw Paw trees but knew they were there. Future Water Trail mile markers and sign posts will be a welcome addition as landmarks are few and far between. Highway and railroad bridges are soon passed and we enter the backwaters of the Flat Rock impoundment and Oakwoods Metropark, a wonderful stretch of oxbows and bayous.
Our weather karma wanes a little as the east wind gets funneled down the lake giving us a stiff headwind for the crossing. Mike George waves goodbye and heads for the Nature Center, and we set our sights on the right end of the Flat Rock Dam anticipating the portage and lunch stop ahead. Flat Rock Metals has graciously left the gate unlocked so the portage is surprisingly quick and easy, we move our gear to the bank below the low dam by the covered bridge and enjoy our well deserved lunch. Ten miles to go.
The current helps along for the next few miles and the woods gradually gives away to more open marsh and wetlands. A few more houses along the banks with some impressive metal breakwalls, and soon the Jefferson St bridge is in view. We pause to collect the group and marvel at the remains of the circa 1800 plank road [editor’s note: the road built for the War of 1812 known as Hull’s Trace] visible along the shoreline and ready for the last push across the river mouth to Pt. Mouillee. Kay, Klaus and Aileen are there to greet us with our shuttle vehicles await in the parking lot.
What a great adventure. I couldn’t have asked for better paddling companions and our shore support was wonderful. Once I get home and unpacked, notes and photos sorted, I’ll post a Trip Epilogue with more details and observations. Until then, thanks to all that made this adventure truly special.