Learn why the Grand River made the area so grand. The Middle Grand River Heritage Water Trail app and companion booklet and webpages are intended to immerse you in an experience that merges the past with the present. Paddling information is provided to make planning a trip easy and enjoyable. Historical information is provided to inspire you to connect with the river and its heritage in a unique way. With the smartphone’s GPS feature on, the app provides you with your exact location on the river. As you near a site of historic importance, the screen will activate, providing you with an image and a brief description of the site. A link will allow you to get more detail, from a webpage. Website access is limited to members of Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds (MGROW), learn more about membership at http://www.mgrow.org.
The Middle Grand River Heritage Water Trail products were developed and published by MGROW, with assistance from the Michigan State University Institute of Water Research; Tri-County Regional Planning Commission; and the Michigan State University Department of Geography; and funded by the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability.
What You Should Know About River Paddling
Direction to Paddle: All of the river trip descriptions and maps describe waterways in a downstream direction. References to “Left” or “Right” refer to the side of the river while facing downstream.
Getting On and Off the River: The current on the Middle Grand is slow unless water levels are high after heavy rains or snowmelt. This makes it easy to launch, paddle upstream against the current, and float back down to your starting point. If you want to avoid paddling against the current, then you will need to “run shuttle” (also called “spotting”) and arrange to have a vehicle waiting to pick you up when you reach your take-out point. Some parts of the Middle Grand are also feasible for a bike shuttle.
Using the Maps to Avoid Hazards: The Middle Grand River has several hazards, primarily dams. These are extremely dangerous and should be portaged by carrying your boat around the obstacle. If the river map in this guidebook shows a red triangle indicating a hazard, do not proceed until you are certain you can do so safely. It is good practice to pull your boat up on shore and “scout” from a point where you have a clear view of the channel ahead.
Water Quality: The Grand River is considered safe for boating according to state water quality standards, except during and shortly following rainstorms. During these periods, direct contact with the river should be avoided.
Have Fun, Stay Safe
Safety is an important concern in all outdoor activities. No map can alert you to every hazard or anticipate the limitations of the trail user. The descriptions of the water trail are not a promise that a particular excursion or place will be safe for your party. When you follow the trail, you assume responsibility for your own safety. Pay attention to traffic, water, road, and trail conditions, weather, terrain, the capabilities of your party, and other factors. Keeping informed on the current conditions and exercising common sense are the keys to a safe, enjoyable outing.
Safe paddling requires preparation, proper equipment, and experience. Canoeing and kayaking can be dangerous. The river creates constantly changing conditions and hazards, such as strainers (brush piles and log jams that allow the river to flow through while holding on to you). Know whether and where hazards and mandatory portages exist. Choose a trip length appropriate for the time available, such as limited daylight in the fall and winter. Dress appropriately for weather and water conditions. Avoid hypothermia, and carry spare dry clothes. River footwear is advised, especially in swift-water sections. Know how to get help in case of an emergency, including escape trails and roads near the river.