The Michigan Department of Natural Resources  has announced the very first designations of 'water trails' around the state. Eight waterways, totaling 540-plus miles that flow through more than a dozen counties, have been selected. The DNR and the Office of the Great Lakes partnered on the effort to finalize this first round of designations.

They include:

  • Central River Raisin Water Trail, 11 miles in Monroe County.
  • Chain of Lakes Water Trail, more than 80 miles in Antrim and Kalkaska counties.
  • Huron River Water Trail, 104 miles in Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.
  • Island Loop Route, 10 miles in St. Clair County.
  • Flint River Trail, 72 miles in Genesee and Lapeer counties.
  • Middle Grand River Water Trail, 87 miles in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham and Ionia counties.
  • Shiawassee River Trail, 88 miles in Genesee, Oakland, Saginaw and Shiawassee counties.
  • Upper Grand River Water Trail, 91 miles in Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties.

You can view a map of the trails here: First state-designated water trails Dec 2018

A water trail is a designated route on a navigable waterway such as a lake, river, canal or bay, that is designed and managed to create a positive outdoor recreation experience for the user. Water trails feature well-developed access points, often are near significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest and often have nearby amenities like restaurants, hotels and campgrounds.

“Water trails naturally are an increasing trend in Michigan and throughout the country, as interest in paddle sports and other water-based recreation continues to grow. We are pleased to help advance these opportunities by recognizing model public water trails that set the standard for future of Michigan’s water trails program.” DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson

Ribbon cuttings for the newly designated water trails will take place during the 2019 paddling season. More information is expected to be provided early in 2019 on the application process for next year’s designations.