Photo courtesy Riverside Kayak Connection.

Photo courtesy Riverside Kayak Connection.

Detroit Heritage River Water Trail

The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail serves up a Great Lake, freighters as long as football fields, international waters, the only international wildlife refuge in North America, and the wildlife to go along with it.

Mary Bohling, MSU Extension educator with Michigan Sea Grant, said, “One of the things I really think is great about the water trail is you can be paddling in downtown Detroit with skyscrapers on one side and thousand-foot long ships on the other. You’ll see beavers and bald eagles on other sections of the river. At the southern end of the river, it’s like you’re up north. The trail’s both urban and wild. It’s pretty incredible that you can have all that in a two-day paddle. You can also paddle with the U.S. on one side and Canada on the other side as it’s an international waterway.”

There’s also a bounty of launching sites.

Bohling said, “We have other 30 different access points. We’re adding to that every year. We have a couple that are ADA accessible. A couple have rollers and one is electric, which lowers you into the water while you’re in your boat, and we are adding to those too.”

The myriad launching sites let you find a section appropriate for your skills.

Tiffany VanDeHey, owner of Riverside Kayak, said: “There’s a lot of variation. You can tour at different skill levels. The lower section where it empties into Lake Erie is easy paddling with lots of backwaters. Downtown is more advanced. Everywhere, there are of lot of historical aspects.”

Riverside Kayak offers tours and rents boats too.

“We do tours up and down the river and are doing rentals on Belle Isle, which just became a state park.”

— Paddling maps can be viewed here and here.

More Rust Belt Paddling

Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Water Trail

70 miles of paddling along the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers


Chicago River Water Trails

From concrete canyons to wild backwaters


Milwaukee Urban Water Trail

Explore Wisconsin’s largest city from the water