New water trail offers paddlers an island adventure

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The tip of an orange kayak cuts into the Lake Michigan waters of the Beaver Island water trail

Sept. 4, 2018

Beaver Island water trail opens opportunity for adventure paddling

With more than 1,000 miles of the national North Country Scenic Trail, continuing development along the Detroit-to-Ironwood Iron Belle Trail, and a 12,500-mile system of state-designated trails enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all types, Michigan is cementing its reputation as the nation’s Trails State.

We’re boosting our trails resumé on the water, too, as paddleboarding and other paddlesports take the lead as the fastest-growing form of outdoor recreation. A newly opened water trail – the Beaver Island water trail in northern Michigan – offers the unique experience of paddling around an island. The water trail wraps 42 miles around the island in Lake Michigan, sitting about 30 miles off the coast near Charlevoix.

“The island contains an extensive system of hiking, biking and birding trails, making it a great destination for adventurous visitors,” said Jon Allan, Office of the Great Lakes director.

Allan said the water trail plan was developed by Traverse City-based LIAA and the local community, with the support of Michigan’s Coastal Management Program and the DNR.

“Safe landing points were identified in 18 places for paddlers circumnavigating the island, and local officials are working with the DNR to add rustic campsites at some of them,” he said. 

Cover image for Beaver Island Water Trail paddling guide

Plan your trip with the Beaver Island Paddling Guide

The local community formed the Beaver Island Archipelago Trails Association to increase paddling opportunities, craft promotional materials, perform maintenance and add signage. Interpretive signage and programming along the water trail will highlight the island’s unique history, relationship to the Great Lakes and natural resources.

Michigan’s Coastal Management Program has invested nearly $2 million in its water trails initiative since 2012. Connect with the Coastal Management Program online or contact program manager Ronda Wuycheck.

Celebrating 40 years in 2018, Michigan’s Coastal Management Program works in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which supports a network of state-federal partnerships protecting America’s coasts.

The Office of the Great Lakes works in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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