On Friday June 14, Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff gathered with representatives and supporters of the non-profit group Paddle Antrim to recognize the Chain of Lakes Water Trail as one of eight state designated water trails at a designation ceremony in Ellsworth, the start of this 80+ mile water trail in the pristine waters of Northern Michigan.
“Michigan is in a great position to work with partners to create this new, statewide water trails program,” said Paul Yauk, DNR statewide trail coordinator. “By designating these lakes and rivers as official water trails, we will shine even more light on these incredible natural resources. The Chain of Lakes Water Trail is a perfect example of a water trail in Michigan that will encourage outdoor recreation, healthy lifestyles and will serve as a regional destination to advance the local economy.”
The Chain of Lakes Water Trail, planned, coordinated and led by Paddle Antrim, is an extensive trail with over 80 miles of routes through 14 stunning lakes and rivers. This water trail is a inter-jurisdictional and public-private collaborative effort, with 81 access sites owned/managed by 17 governmental jurisdictions and non-profit organizations that stretches through four counties in Northwest Michigan (Antrim, Charlevoix, Kalkaska, and Grand Traverse).
“Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is pleased to support the recent designation of the Chain of Lakes as one of the first officially designated inland water trails in Michigan,” said Bob Wilson, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance executive director. “It’s a well-deserved designation due to the important role played by volunteers, by Deana Jerdee, the Paddle Antrim organization and by the local units of government that have so successfully built this trail and welcomed paddlers from all parts of the state.”
From the small upper lakes to Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake, there is an incredible diversity of paddling opportunities, making it a destination for all paddlers. Paddler experiences include wildlife viewing, natural areas best explored paddle craft, sunken ships, island exploration, and great fishing opportunities. The communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, Alden and Elk Rapids are located along the trail and make great destinations for launching, exiting, or resting from a paddle while enjoying the towns’ dining, shopping, lodging, and other recreational experiences.
“Water trails are a wonderful way to connect local residents and visitors to the amazing waters of Northern Michigan,” said Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim Executive Director. “This water trail will not only have a significant positive impact on our local economy but will get people out and active on the water. We believe when people are engaged on the water, they will work to protect our water quality as well as our native plants and animals.”
Paddle Antrim is dedicated to a quality experience for paddlers out on the water, providing more than just the logistics of the trail. Whether it is information on where to stop for ice cream, how to remove invasive species from your boat, or what kind of gear should you have, all of those messages are important to have a positive experience. Paddle Antrim is working to install signs and develop the maps and tools paddlers need to have a safe and quality experience while out on the water.
During the paddling season, Paddle Antrim offers community paddle events and classes to get people active, out on the water, and improving their skills. They also host the annual Paddle Antrim Festival, a two-day non-competitive paddle through the water trail and local events in each of the communities. For more information on Paddle Antrim and the Chain of Lakes Water Trail go to www.paddleantrim.com