The Best Places To Kayak In Michigan

“Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice”

"If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

best places to kayak in michigan

Michigan is a Midwestern state that only has two peninsulas. It borders 4 out of the 5 great lakes, and is home to over 11000 inland lakes spread across its upper and lower peninsula.

With all that water, it isn't any wonder why Michigan is such a great destination for kayaking!

Michigan is truly one of the most favorite, and greatest destinations for kayakers. With all of its wondrous and natural scenery, and it's abundance of lakes, kayaking is a must for Michigan.

Michigan is a land of great splendors. It's full of natural beauty, and historical importance. It has a population of nearly 10 million people.

Its largest city Detroit, famed as the auto industry of America, contains about half of its population.

Also known as The Wolverine State, Michigan’s locals (Michiganians, Michiganders, and Michiganites) enjoy over 3200 miles of coastline. Sandy beaches and rocky shores, rest along this coastline, dotted with more than 100 public beaches and 2 National Lakeshores.

Michigan is a great place for kayak fishing, and has numerous places to camp and discover inbetween. Along with canoeing, rafting and an number of other water activities, kayaking is very popular in Michigan.

Michigan is home of the WMCKA (The West Michigan Coastal Kayakers’ Association). The purpose of the WMCKA is to promote the sport of kayaking through educational clinics, recreational events, symposia on safe kayaking and paddling techniques and through the publication of a periodic newsletter.

Kayaking can be a very thrilling and astonishing experience. So to help your experience and hopefully make it even more enjoyable, we've decided to bring you a list of the best places to kayak in Michigan.

Best Places To Kayak In Michigan​

The Muskegon River

The Muskegon River is 216 miles and passes through Muskegon, Newaygo, Croton Township, Big Rapids, and Evart.

Michigan’s second largest river the Muskegon is a great place to fish. This rivers reputation has seen an increase due to boasts of its large migratory steel head, brown trout, and planted Pacific salmon.

muskegon river

The Muskegon is great for a weekend trip with friends, as you can leisurely float down at an easy pace. There are also various locations at which to stop and depart allowing you to lengthen or shorten the trip to your liking.

This river offers some mild and easily navigated waters making it perfect for those lacking in experience and confidence. Those who have been kayaking for a while will also find it contains more challenging areas as well.

There are lots of trails and camping along the Muskegon. You'll have many opportunities to take advantage of the beautiful scenery.

A number of cabins and inns are also available for stay and there is even hunting in nearby public hunting land if that's something you're interested in.

No matter your skill level you'll find this river holds something for you to enjoy.

The Sturgeon River

With some areas having an 80% tip over rate and rapidly dropping 14’ per mile, the Sturgeon River is a place where even experienced kayakers can find a challenge.

The Sturgeon River is the fastest river in the lower peninsula of Michigan. That doesn't mean it's only for pros. If you're a beginner you'll still be able to venture this river.

The Sturgeon River

Keeping in mind if lacking the experience, you are strongly suggested not to attempt doing it without a professional guide. We want you to enjoy yourself and to do that you should always remember that safety is your top priority!

You can check out the Indian River Campground (pristinely clean and quiet). Bike trails go to Mackinaw City. Boating the Indian River is available in this area too.

This is certainly one of the best places to kayak in Michigan!

The Manistee River

One of, if not the most amazing river in Michigan. The Manistee River stands as one of the best places to kayak in Michigan. Compares to some Alaskan rivers in beauty and abundance. Packed with different fish at all seasons. Great for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Lined with Petosky stones.

The Manistee River

Wildlife packs the shores and surrounding woods. There are places to stop and rest and islands to get out on to eat lunch. Also great for boating. If you enjoy the recreation that rivers offer, you definitely want to spend some time in, on, and around the Manistee River.

If you like Fishing or canoeing this is the river for you. Steelhead, Coho, Brown Trout. An avid fisherman could not ask for anything better. Tippy Dam has been the place to fish for many from all over the world.

Take a nice trip down from Tippy Dam in Wellston, Or Rainbow Bend or High Bridge. This is a beautiful pristine River and if you are quiet you will experience a lot of wildlife. Deer, Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Beavers, Muskrats, Ducks, Geese... and an occasional Black Bear. It will be a beautiful experience for everyone.

Whether you like hiking, fishing, canoeing, tubing or just enjoy site seeing, The Manistee River is the place to go. With 193 miles of pure flowing water you can't go wrong. There's a spot called "res bridge" that's a really nice access point to the river.

Along with a couple of the most beautiful hiking trails ever, the entrances are just a few feet away from the bridge itself. There's also plenty of business that can guide you up and down the river, and places that rent out boating and tubing equipment.

Great for kayaking especially for beginners, because the river is wide and the snags are not hard to avoid. There are a number of camping sites and hiking trails in the area. You will not have any trouble finding a kayak in Michigan.

Hiking along a river can be such an amazing experience. You will see marshy areas, woody areas, and beautiful little streams back in the woods.

The Jordan River

The Jordan River

The Jordan River is located in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The mainstream is 33 miles in length with headwaters in northwestern Antrim County, it empties into the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix at the Village of East Jordan. The river has two major tributaries, the Green River and Deer Creek with numerous minor tributaries to both the mainstream and Deer Creek.

It was the first river in Michigan to be Federally designated as a wild and scenic river. The water is crystal clear and is one of the best streams for trout fishing in Michigan.

The Jordan River is a place you can go that the whole family will not only enjoy, but have an unforgettable experience.

Kayaking on the Jordan River is a wonderful adventure filled with amazing beauty and surrounds you with incredible wildlife scenery.

An array of areas in which to pull in and set up for a meal. Great hiking and camping along the river. This river is a fun even flowing river with bends and turns.

It does have some overgrowth along the river banks. That is to be expected in a natural area such as the Jordan Valley! The water is very cold but can be a welcoming thing on a hot day.

The Lansing River

The Lansing River is a great place to go for kayakers. The river is perfect for beginning paddlers as it has routes that are wide and slow.

The Lansing River

You can expect to see numerous turtles and waterfowl as you wind through the historic industrial center of Lansing.

There are several excellent locations to put your kayak or canoe in and start or stop your ride. And with all the amazing activities to check out nearby there is no chance of getting bored.

Lansing River Trail stretches all the way from Waverly Road to Old Town. You can also catch it from Potter Park into MSU

Altogether, over 20 miles of paved trail pass through numerous parks and natural areas, as well as Downtown Lansing.

Throughout out the seasons the area is littered with festivals and special events going on. The Lansing River Trail is also a great resource for bird enthusiasts and casual observers.

Bike riding is very fun and popular activity on the trail. If you can't find something to do here then you're just not trying!

Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

A wilderness of forests, lakes and waterways. Isle Royale National Park is a remote island cluster near Michigan’s border with Canada. It has some of the best kayaking in Michigan.

Experienced kayakers go here to take in a long ride. While many people go here to enjoy its scenery that encompasses moose and even wolves.

Isle Royale National Park has a vast number of camping opportunities to take advantage of. Considered a must by many is Scoville Point.

Scoville Point has some incredible views. You're definitely going to want to be sure to bring your camera. The best scenery is all along the hike, all the way out to the final point. It's an easy hike and you don't need any experience as a hiker to be successful at completing it.

Its roughly 4 miles, the elevation change is very minimal, and the Stoll Path largely follows the shoreline to the point. It's about 2 miles from Rock Harbor and is easily reachable in a 3 hour round trip - at a leisurely pace. Bring some lunch and have a picnic at this very scenic spot.

There are always businesses that offer rental and guided tour services.

Final thoughts

What makes all these places great is more than just their offering of waters to suit kayakers of varying skill.

All of the destinations on our list allow kayakers to experience a myriad of different activities. Also in turn they allow those who come for other activities to expand their horizons with kayaking.

You’ll undoubtedly have lots to enjoy while exploring the beautiful and thrilling environment around you.

No matter what your reasons were for seeking out these locations!!

We hope our splash, rapidly leads to your solution!

Steven Conte

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