May 27 2015

Barton Dam Boat Slide

boat slide barton damThank the maker! Apparently, someone thought that the 900 ft portage around Barton Dam on the Huron River was just too much and decided to make things a little easier. See photo for a slide that will carry your boat for you down and around the dam to the put-in below. I have not been to the site to see it yet, but I imagine that it is to the right of the damn, and not “over the dam” as stated in the article <link>.

It was also mentioned, “We all imagined that there must be an easier way to get boats down the long, steep slope of the dam. However, no examples could be found.”  Well, they must not do much canoeing or kayaking, because I can think of half a dozen examples right off the top of my head.  Unfortunately, not many of them are in Michigan.  This is the first all steel example I have ever seen, though, and it looks like it will be a zero-maintenance slide that should last darn near forever.

Check out our MAP OF BARTON DAM on the Huron River and see the portage around the dam.  You’ll be thanking the RiverUp! folks too when you get the chance to use it.

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Sep 14 2014

Crego Park, Lansing

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Had a great time exploring a new park in Lansing this week.  It’s called Crego Park and it North of E. Mt St. Hope Avenue, just East of Aurelius Rd. It’s just a scooch from the Aurelius Rd. put-in on the Red Cedar River.

It’s a great place to get your feet wet kayaking. Actually, you don’t have to get your feet wet at all because they have a nifty kayak launch area made especially for special needs.  Not shown in the satellite view yet is a new, paved parking lot, new pier and handicapped accessible kayak ramp with rollers, and pull bars.  It’s designed for a completely dry entry and specifically for those who need help getting into or out of a kayak or canoe.

 There’s also a brand new toll booth here, so expect to be charged an entry fee in the future, usually on the order of $5 per day for residents.

Oh, yeah, they have fish too!  Only caught one largemouth bass, but there are reportedly more fish than the one I happened to catch on the hottest day of the week.


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Apr 03 2014

A Modest Proposal – #MIClintonrivercheck

twitter largeimageI’ve been reading about Kayak/Canoe safety lately and came across the article from last June about the drowning of a kayaker on the Clinton River again.   Some of the notable topics in the article mentioned how fickle the river can be and how dangerous and turbulent it is after a hard rain.  The most important quote was from the Shelby Township Fire Chief:

“We’d like to come up with something that has information on the depth and current conditions up and down the entire river, and links to interpret the information,” Swinkowski said. “That might help the public and how people approach going out on kayaks and canoes.”

And while that seems like a nice, easy solution, let’s think about the reality of setting up such a dedicated website for this purpose.    I can only imagine the cost multiplication associated with some branch of the government handling this task.  For example, should there be single person hired to run this website, or page, dedicated to monitoring the conditions on the Clinton? That’s not going to happen with city and county budgets supposedly in arrears in today’s economy.   So, the task will be added to the workload of some underling who’s already overworked and underpaid tying up loose ends of all the important government administrators.   What we’ll likely get is a half-hearted approach to monitoring river conditions.   Next, add-in laggy response time, lack of interest, or neglect of this website leading to another tragedy.  Anyone trying to navigate the State Of Michigan DNR site or most any other government run websites knows what I mean by this.  Trying to find information is, sometimes, like playing the Lotto.  Then, it occurred to me that we already have an infrastructure in place – it’s called Twitter.    And, if we all participate, we can provide this information to the paddling community more accurately, more consistently, and for free.

No need to make and monitor inputs to a page on a county or local municipality website.   Using a hashtag (#) on twitter would allow any boater to instantly lookup river conditions on ANY river in Michigan.   Instead of devoting an entire infrastructure and development costs to run a website for river monitoring, we could all take some responsibility to monitor the rivers for our fellow kayakers and canoeists on a real-time basis.   Since almost all major rivers are served by a livery or two, they can be the backbone of the system by tweeting conditions of their respective runs on a daily basis during paddling seasons.   The rest of us could fill in the details at put-ins and take-outs not serviced by the liveries.  It would be a small contribution from everyone and result in a large value for the community at large.  And not only the Clinton, but ALL rivers in Michigan (or in any state, for that matter) could be updated on a consistent basis without the need for government to throw a pittance of pence at the problem and come up with a less than stellar solution.

So, I’m proposing a format for tweets like this:

# (hashtag, for those new to twitter) <“MI”> (for Michigan) <NAME> (insert name of river) <“RiverCheck”>  

And then immediately followed by info related to the <Date> <Location> <Conditions>.

For a resulting tweet that reads like this:

#MIClintonRiverCheck 4/3/14 High, swift water above Yates Dam from rain yesterday *CAUTION*

or this:

#MIHuronRiverCheck 4/2/14 low water level above Placeway Picnic Site – too many portages !!

You can then, without even logging into Twitter, go to the website and look up conditions on any river that’s been tweeted about.  TRY IT – CLICK TO GO TO TWITTER.   Then type in #MIHuronRiverCheck.  You should see the test post.  Websites could easily add a twitter post rfeed to an already existing website.   If we can get the hundred or so liveries on board, it will be a great start for this system.  And, it’s free.  

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Mar 25 2014

It’s Coming…

KentLakeFrozenIt really is.  Spring, that is.   This is Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark about a week ago, still frozen over but slowly melting.    Unfortunately, it’s going back down to 10 or below tonight but Sunday will break the 50 degree mark.   Soon, soon we will be able to paddle the running water of the Huron.


But, in the meantime, check out our MAPS section for some newly marked areas such as the Au Sable River and the Grand River.    And there’s more to come soon.   I’ve seen a lot of other competing sites and publications lately, but none have the accuracy of our marked maps.   If you’d like to contribute, or correct an error, just email us at  or comment on the map page.

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Sep 27 2013

The Grand River – McNamera Canoe Landing to Burchfield Park

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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.

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