Michigan’s water trails scene has experienced explosive growth in recent years, fueled by a growing number of paddlesports enthusiasts and a push to develop Michigan’s reputation as a prime trail destination on both land and water.
New opportunities to kayak, canoe, and paddleboard have been a boon to paddlers. However, this rapid growth has also resulted in varied levels of trail development and management as communities independently work to create recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.
To assist communities in trail development, the Office of the Great Lakes’ Coastal Management Program, with the Department of Natural Resources and conservation partner LIAA, collaborated to create a Michigan Water Trails Manual.
Development was informed by a committee of local, state, and national water trail experts. The step-by-step manual will serve as a blueprint of best practices for establishing water trails. The manual will help communities provide consistency and ensure high-quality user experiences with the understanding that each trail will be unique.
The Michigan Water Trails Manual is ready to be incorporated into trail plans as the summer paddling season begins. View and download the manual at www.michiganwatertrails.org/manual.
Harry Burkholder, Executive Director of LIAA, said,”The recent growth and interest in water trails has been tremendous. The Water Trail Manual provides local officials, water advocacy organizations, and paddlers with the resources and tools to develop water trails in their communities.”
This tool will assist Michigan communities in providing healthy recreational opportunities for residents and gaining economic traction by attracting visitors to a quality outdoor experience. Expanding water trails furthers Coastal Management Program goals to increase public access to Michigan’s water resources. The Coastal Zone Management Program has incorporated trail corridors into coastal planning efforts and provided funding, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for universally-accessible kayak launches.
Explore how the Coastal Management Program works to enhance Michigan’s connection to Great Lakes coastal resources by visiting www.michigan.gov/coastalmanagement.