Sunset on the Huron River from the Maple Road Bridge, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sunset on the Huron River Water Trail, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Huron River Water Trail was designated as one of the first State Water Trails by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the Office of the Great Lakes. The program recognizes communities that connect people to outdoor recreation and empower environmental stewardship.

To be designated as a State Water Trail, HRWC demonstrated that the trail had strong local support, was well-maintained and was accessible to paddlers of all skill levels. The water trail was already designated as the 18th National Water Trail, and now carries both state and national recognition.

The Huron River is one of Michigan’s treasures and the water trail proves to anyone that paddles its course that Michigan is best explored from the water. The trail flows, winds, and rushes 104 miles through pristine natural environments, historic Trail Towns, and past some of the best places to grab a bite or a brew in Michigan. Kayakers, canoeists, and anglers of all skill levels can drift leisurely or paddle with purpose all the way from Proud Lake in Milford to Point Mouillee on Lake Erie. It can be explored in sections, taking advantage of accessible launches along its entire length, or the adventurous can paddle through over several days, camping right near the shore as they go.

I especially enjoy kayaking the Huron for many reasons. It’s always possible to find a section of river that fits my mood. If I want to paddle for exercise and don’t want organize transportation for a one-way trip, I paddle one of the gentler sections above Barton Pond or between Island Lake and Kensington. If I’m in the mood to spot wildlife, I can paddle from Flat Rock to Lake Erie or in Natural River District below the Chain of Lakes.

I also like the paddling the Huron for the peaceful escape it provides without having to travel more than a few miles. The river features areas as untouched as any in Southeast Michigan. It’s a way to see the Pure Michigan of old, with strutting Great Blue Herons, jumping fish, and uninterrupted wetlands. Many say it’s easy to forget you’re in southeast Michigan when you’re on the river, that it provides the Up North experience close to home. That’s true. But I prefer to think of it as an example of how inspiring any part of Michigan can be when we protect our natural resources and provide public access for all to enjoy.

Canoeists on the Huron River Water Trail
Canoeists on the Huron River Water Trail

As we look ahead to a new year and a new paddling season, I encourage all of you to find your favorite spot on the Huron River National and State Water Trail. You can learn more at

We’ll see you on the river!