News

Connecting Northern Michigan’s Waterways and Communities – One Paddle at a Time

Paddle Antrim is pleased to announce that the Chain of Lakes Water Trail in Northwest Michigan is officially open to the public.

In 2014, efforts began to create a 100+ mile water trail – making paddling the Chain of Lakes accessible and navigable for paddlers. Now in 2021, this goal has become a reality as the non-profit organization celebrated the Chain of Lakes Water Trail Ribbon Cutting on Wednesday, May 26th in Ellsworth, MI.

Water trails are the aquatic equivalent to a hiking trail, designed for people using non-motorized boats such as kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards. “While the lakes have always existed, the water trail provides infrastructure and information paddlers need to make decisions and have a quality experience on the water,” said Deana Jerdee, Executive Director of Paddle Antrim, host of the water trail. “This project is a culmination of a region coming together to inspire people to be active and safe on the water, educate individuals on how to be good stewards of our water resources, and provide avenues for economic development.”

Paddle Antrim is very grateful to the Consumers Energy Foundation, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Rosso Family Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, The Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, Frey Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, and many other donors, partners, and supporters who helped make this project a success.

“Consumers Energy is dedicated to ensuring Michigan has thriving communities with world-class natural resources and recreational opportunities,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We are thrilled to support Paddle Antrim and the Chain of Lakes Trail because it will enhance Northern Michigan’s economic vitality while protecting our waters for today and for generations to come.”

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail exemplifies a region working together. The trail, which spans four counties, is hosted by Paddle Antrim and supported by 19 governmental and nonprofit entities who own the 84 access sites along the trail. The Chain of Lakes Water Trail offers paddlers access to quaint communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, and Elk Rapids. These towns all have access points that allow paddlers to easily walk into town to enjoy the plentiful amenities including restaurants, retail stores, outfitters, art galleries and more. The water trail is best suited to day-trips and provides a diverse range of paddling opportunities for all skill levels.

Recently installed signs were located near the water’s edge at each access site, so paddlers can identify where to exit from the water. Additional information on stewardship, safety, paddling experiences, and more is found on kiosks along the trail.

To help paddlers create the right paddling experience, Paddle Antrim recently released several great resources for navigating the Chain of Lakes. The Chain of Lakes Paddler’s Guide, a 30-page waterproof guidebook provides information to help paddlers plan a safe and worthwhile trip. A digital map is also available that can be downloaded through Avenza Maps. All this and more can be found on their website, www.chainoflakeswatertrail.org, that serves as a one-stop shop for anyone planning a paddling adventure on the water trail.

About Paddle Antrim

Paddle Antrim is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization who uses paddle sports to educate the public about our precious water resources. We support and promote investments in water trail infrastructures that facilitate public access to the waterways. Paddle Antrim believes education, increased access, and promotion of our waterways will increase protection as well as enhance the economic vitality of Northern Michigan.

About the Chain of Lakes Water Trail

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail, in northwest Michigan, is a 100+ mile inland water trail made up of 12 lakes and interconnected rivers which flow into the East Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. The Chain of Lakes is divided into the Upper Chain and Lower Chain, separated by a dam in the Village of Bellaire. This water trail is diverse with both small and large lakes, connected by meandering rivers, creating opportunities for all levels of paddlers to enjoy. The water trail connects people to the natural environment as well as vibrant communities. Whether kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding or fishing, there are opportunities for all to explore.