News & Events

We Did It! The Whole 23 Miles Are Open for Paddling

The so-called "Wilderness Section" of the Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail is "open for business". The hired chainsaw crews of: Daniel Greene and Mike Bean, made it through the entire 4 miles length. This section of river is located from the Horton Access Site on Cr. 687 Bangor Township down to Cr. 380. Prior to this it has been navigable only by the most flexible kayaking jack rabbits in the county! So finally the entire Heritage Water Trail is open for paddling!

A "minimalist approach" to "clean-up" will be made to preserve the "wilderness section" to maintain a "wilderness feel". It will still be a challenge for experienced paddlers with good skills and adequate preparation for a 3.5 to 4 hour paddle. "family friendly" will remain the goal for all other areas of the water trail.

Inaugural Paddling Adventure

After the chainsaw crews announced their successful work through the entire section late on Tuesday evening, July 16 a small group consisting of kayakers John Mitchell and Don Harrell, and canoeist Dave Marcelletti began their "paddling adventure" on Saturday July 20, 2013, which provided some unique surprises.

Within a few minutes the group was in the deep forest area with hardwood trees towering seventy feet or more and hemlock trees lining occasional high ridges. In the first mile the stream seemed to split with a wider path to the left. On exploration, a major tributary stream on the left narrowed and was impassable after about 100 yards. The pathway resumed through cuts in a log jam to the right.

Around another bend, the group came upon the upper third of a tree that had toppled into the river with 20 to 30 foot branches like giant fingers pointing into the water through which the paddlers were able to pass. Many more ridges of Hemlock trees and a few White Pines were evident. An occasional Willow tree also hugged low bank areas. Many Catalpa trees and Paw Paw trees were also intermixed with the hardwoods. Around one bend was heard "rushing of water" that was due to a diversion of the main stream at a right angle down a 3 foot wide course that descended 1 to 2 feet within 20 or so yards and re-entered the main stream about 150 yards later. About a quarter mile paddle around an oxbow was required to reach the re-entry point. We hope that flooding does not take this out because it is a very unique setting. Several areas of high clay bank were also present in the last half of the paddle with some shale-like formation intermixed with the clay.

In the second half of the paddle, on 5 occasions, gently trickling water was heard and found to be due to tiny tributary streams within a few feet of the river bank coursing over a log or a clay shelf to drop 6 to 8 inches as a little "waterfall." Besides twisting and turning and bending when paddling around and under obstructions, there were about 4 or 5 submerged logs spanning the whole expanse from bank to bank requiring a "wriggle and sand shake routine" to pass over without stepping out of the canoe or kayak. The current was light to moderated over a mostly sandy bottom with depths of two-three feet in most areas. In several areas, the river ran between wide banks with shallow water over sand which required using the paddle against the sand or stepping out of the canoe or kayak to pull it over the "sand-bar."

In the last half-mile of the paddle, a double log obstructing from bank to bank required a "portage" by stepping out on the obstruction to lift the boat over. However, John Mitchell gave in to temptation and un-sheathed his bow saw, making quick work of the small tree trunk and opening a path to squeeze under the larger log.

The group exited the river after about three and one-half hours of paddling at the Cr. 380 bridge. Climbing over steep rock cover, thoughts and comments were shared that the better, easier exit site would be downriver another 0.6 mile at the bridge adjacent to the river gauging station on Cr. 687 Geneva Township