Best Water Trails in Metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and Beyond

Kayaking and canoeing are great summer sports for the whole family.

Summer is the time to be outdoors and make some great memories with your family and friends. If you love water sports, or just like being outside and having an adventure, try going to one of these water trails in metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and beyond.

Many of the water trails have places nearby to rent canoes or kayaks – or you can bring your own. Float on down the trails to see all the nature surrounding some trails, or paddle around the city and experience the quiet in the metro Detroit area.

They’re great for vacations or just a summer day trip, so pack up the sunblock and the bathing suits and get paddling.

Blueways of St. Clair

With 16 paddling routes in nine different bodies of water, the Blueways of St. Clair offers a great opportunity to spend a weekend on the water. The website offers an itinerary-builder, with details on all of the nearby places to eat, shop or just relax on the banks. It’s located along the St. Clair River corridor, from Anchor Bay to the northern border of St. Clair County along Lake Huron.

Clinton River Water Trail

The Clinton River water trail runs from Lake Huron to Waterford Township, passing through Utica and Pontiac, blending the natural views with the urban settings.

Detroit Heritage River Water Trail

This huge water trail takes you through every setting imaginable. View downtown Detroit and the International Wildlife Refuge all from the comfort of your kayak. With four different paddling segments and 12 different routes to take, spend the day out on the Detroit River and make your way down to Lake Erie.

Detroit River and Belle Isle Lagoon Tours

Detroit River Sports and Riverside Kayak Connection offer Detroit canal and Belle Isle kayaking tours. Depending on the tour, you’ll be able to paddle along Detroit Yacht Club, through historic channels and even into the Belle Isle’s Blue Heron Lagoon. Try something new and enjoy the sites of the Detroit from the river. Tours typically last two to three hours. Spaces are limited.

Huron River Water Trail

Running from the Proud Lake State Recreation area in Commerce Charter Township to the mouth of the Detroit River, the Huron River Water Trail offers a ton of inland water sports and surrounding lands with plenty of places to relax for break time. This trail is 104 miles and is the place for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

Lake St. Clair Water Trail

Experience Lake St. Clair from the water instead of the shore. Travel all along Anchor Bay and follow the trail down to the start of the Detroit River. With all kinds of boat launches and points of interest to explore along the way, Lake St. Clair is a great place to bring family and friends for a day of adventure and excitement. Check out all of the recreational activities along the shoreline as well.

Monroe County Water Trails

Check out all six of the trails in Monroe County along the shores of Lake Erie and throughout the River Raisin. The scenic views of Brest Bay and even Maumee Bay are visible from these trails, even dipping down into Ohio, if you’re feeling adventurous enough.

Rouge River Water Trail

Fully inland, beautiful, wooded lands, as well as some urban environments surround the Rouge River Water Trail, located on the Rouge River from Ford Road to Garfield Road. What’s more Michigan than a day on the water? Take this trail right under Michigan Avenue. Paddle by the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, the Henry Ford Museum, and even the Ford Motor Company building. Spend one of our great summer days here in the Mitten on this water trail.

Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

This trail is a bit further north for those in the metro Detroit area, but the views along the banks make it worth the trip. Running from Byron Mill Pond all the way to Water Works Park in Holly, this historic trail lets people experience a bit of Old Michigan. See the old Water Works building while paddling the river and look out for Michigan wildlife in the beautiful forested banks.

What’s your favorite water trail? Got an addition for this list? Comment below!

This post was originally published in 2016 and is updated regularly.

Follow Metro Parent on Instagram.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -


50 Exciting Activities to Keep Kids Engaged This Summer

Plan a balanced, engaging summer with these kid-friendly activities, from outdoor adventure to indoor creativity.

Calm and Connected: Coaching Coping Skills in Your Children

Join Metro Parent on June 5 for this free ParentEd Talk with mental health counselor and author Janine Halloran, LMHC.

Family Guide to Rochester Hills: 7 Fun Things to Do with Kids

Explore Rochester Hills with your family and discover parks, festivals, and kid-friendly dining in this vibrant community.

Free Train Rides Roll Back into Metro Detroit with Great Lakes Live Steamers

Kiddos can enjoy free, miniature train rides at these locations throughout 2024.

- Advertisement -