One of our family’s favorite trips on the Huron takes us through the Huron’s Natural River District, a designation recognizing the natural and scenic beauty of the river as it flows between Kent Lake and the western boundary of Ann Arbor.
We like to load kayaks as well as bicycles for a “paddle-down-cycle-up trip,” but you can of course also use two cars for a shuttle trip. We start just above Mile 69 on the Water Trail (page 10 on HRWC’s Paddler’s Companion) at the DNR launch site off McGregor Road in Dexter Township after dropping the bikes (or other car) off at Dexter-Huron Metropark (you will need a Metropark pass).
We launch the kayaks into Portage Lake, but quickly need to get out again to portage the Flook Dam. After the portage, we float into a seeming wilderness, with crystal waters clear down to the sand and gravel bottom, where we can watch fish torpedo by. My husband commences counting turtles sunning themselves on logs. I zig-zag from shore to shore, doing some float-by botany of the cardinal flowers, bluebells, and other flora.
The 8 mile trip takes us through Hudson Mills Metropark as well as the City of Dexter, where you can take a short side trip up Mill Creek (if flow conditions permit), take out at Mill Creek Park, and enjoy the beautiful trails the city has constructed along the restored creek. You can taste baked goods from the Dexter Bakery or have lunch at one of the many restaurants, or an ice cream cone at the Dairy Queen.
We take out at Dexter-Huron Metropark, where we jump on our bikes and head back up to the car along the Border-to-Border Trail, a non-motorized pathway that, when completed, will run all the way from Washtenaw County’s border with Wayne County (down by Ford Lake) to its border with Livingston County (back at Portage Lake). The B2B Trail takes us back upstream along asphalt and boardwalks along the river and through wooded swamps and wetlands. We get another chance for a snack as we bike through Dexter and up to Mill Creek Park. Then the B2B takes us through Hudson Mills Metropark, where it ends, and we need to complete the trip along North Territorial and up Dexter-Pinckney Road to get back to our car at the DNR boat launch. The road is passable, but it will sure be nice when the county completes this section of the B2B, and we can make our entire trip free of auto traffic.
Have fun, stay safe with these TIPS from the Trail!
Join HRWC for Huron River Appreciation Day, Sunday July 10! Come along on a guided trip of the Huron River Water Trail in Dexter, paddle the Lower Huron from Flat Rock or paddle to Milford from Proud Lake, hear a talk on paddling safety and get a free life jacket, hear a river history talk or learn to fly fish!
Huron River Appreciation Day is sponsored by TOYOTA.