What flows for 104 miles and draws more than 2.5 million people each year? Southeast Michigan’s own Huron River! For kayaking, canoeing, fishing on a fly, and other freshwater pursuits, the Huron River Water Trail is a Michigan treasure worth exploring.

Meet the Huron River Water Trail--104 miles of inland paddling and five Trail Towns to welcome you - designated a National Water Trail by the Park Service. From rapids to placid flat water, from small town to city, a variety of adventures await. In fact, Ann Arbor has been called one of North America’s (Next) Best Paddling Towns by Canoe & Kayak Magazine.

With summer nearly here, paddlers will take to the Huron River for trips both short and long. Whether considering a three-hour tour or a through paddle of the 104-mile trail, this list provides ideas and references for river-based getaways.

To get the most out of the Huron River Water Trail (HRWT) and its Trail Towns, consider the following.

1. Study the Trip Planner

The HRWT’s Trip Planner is an online resource that shows the entire trail through five counties in Southeast Michigan. Interactive maps allow for zooming into each section and studying the services along the route. There are several recommended trips for upper, middle and lower sections of the river under the “Trips” tab. Look at the whole river under “Explore.” www.huronriverwatertrail.org

2. Get guidebooks and maps

The waterproof Paddler’s Companion is a flip book containing rich, full-color maps of the trail with 3-5 river miles per page. The book is loaded with details including boat rental locations, safety tips, and amenities in the five largest Trail Towns. Purchase one for $15 at huronriverwatertrail.org or at one of the participating retailers and communities.

3. Seek advice from other paddlers

HRWT’s online “Comments Map” under the “Explore” tab on the website provides a place to chat with others who have paddled part or all of the trail. Post specific questions and read past conversations. HRWC monitors the site and also posts trail updates here.

4. Hone those paddling and route-finding skills

To be ready for a longer paddle you need to be physically fit, gain experience and comfort paddling a canoe or kayak in a variety of water and weather conditions, and gain navigation skills. Paddling instruction is offered throughout Southeast Michigan; local clubs offer both on-the-water and pool sessions depending on the time of year. Teach yourself how to use a map and compass, or attend a workshop through a hiking club, scout group, or outdoor recreational store.

5. Review trail updates

River conditions, weather forecasts, and trail updates all can be found at huronriverwatertrail.org. This online resource provides the most current information available to anyone navigating the trail.

Want to learn more? View short videos about Fly Fishing the Huron, Paddling the Huron River Water Trail, and more to learn about the places and people on the river.