View Grand River – McNamera to Burchfeld Park in a larger map
I paddled a beautiful stretch of the Grand River today from the McNamera Canoe Landing to Burchfield park. It’s 3 miles cut through a rural area south of Lansing. Completely lined with trees, they were just beginning to change color. In another 2-3 weeks, Autumn will be in full bloom and this area will look spectacular. It’s primarily shallow, broad, and weedless. The water is clear with a rocky bottom and dotted with a many tree fells, rocks, and deep channels that should have been fish havens. Unfortunately, today’s catch consisted of only one smallmouth bass, but it was a nice size(20″), and a rusty brown color. Other than that, fish spotting was few and far between.
This segment is undoubtedly a favorite canoe trip for the livery at Bruchfield park, which may ferry canoeists to McNamera and collect them 3 miles later back at Bruchfield. Because of this, this stretch is completely clear of log jams with no need for portage whatsoever. There is one large tree fell, right at the red barn shown on the map, but there’s plenty of room for boats to paddle through easily.
The current along this stretch is relatively slow, and can easily be paddled upstream for even novice paddlers. My partner and I floated downstream, and the 3 mile trip took a little over 2 hours, with plenty of time for fishing.
On the map, McNamera Landing is labeled with a yellow access marker. This put-in is a wooden stairway leading to a drop-off to the water, which can be deep at times of high water. The pic below shows only the top of 8 stairs to the water, and the river is too deep to stand in while getting into your yak, so this is essentially a dock entry situation. This can be difficult for novice paddlers or anyone not used to getting in and out of a yak without a firm grasp on land, but it can be done. Always remember to keep your butt low. A low center of gravity is key to not tipping.
Bruchfield Park is, by contrast to the put-in at McNamera, a low sandy slope and labeled in green on the map above for it’s universal accessibility. The only downside of taking out here is the 200 yard portage to the parking lot to the South. Still, I will absolutely return to this segment again, and I recommend it to anyone who’s never paddled the Grand River as a good place to start.
Bruchfield park is an Ingham county park, so buy a pass for the year or be prepared to pay a $5 entry fee if you’re a non-resident.