Detroit River Kayaking

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Detroit Michigan has a variety of resources for urban kayaking. In downtown Detroit, an interconnected park system operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) includes Belle Isle Park, William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, and the Outdoor Adventure Center.

Belle Isle Park

Situated on the Detroit River, Belle Isle Park has been a jewel of the Motor City since it was established in the late 1800s. The 985-acre island park is owned by the city of Detroit and is managed and operated by the DNR, under a long-term lease.

Belle Isle Park is known for its natural beauty, picnicking, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and many cultural and historical resources. Belle Isle Park drew over 3.8 million visitors in 2015.

“With open and renovated restrooms, expanded vendor services – offering food, beverages and rental options such as beach chairs, bicycles, kayaks, canoes and snowshoes, Belle Isle Park has increased its draw,” said Karis Floyd, manager of Belle Isle Park and Milliken State Park and Harbor.

The DNR and its many partners continue to revitalize the park and increase park offerings. For example, many island canals have been cleared and opened for kayaking and canoeing, activities that haven’t been available here for years.

A universally accessible kayak and canoe launch, with two access points, recently was completed near the beach. One launch point is located with access to the Detroit River, while the other connects to an island canal. A pavilion, to shield picnickers from inclement weather, was constructed near the launch.

In addition, a multi-year plan is now under way, initiated by the Friends of the Detroit River to connect the inland Lake Okonoka and the Detroit River. This will improve fish habitat and provide more fishing areas for anglers and additional kayaking and canoeing options.

“We’ve seen a large increase in the number of people interested in kayaking and canoeing in and around the island, and so we’ve responded by opening canals, adding more entry points, and offering kayaks and canoes for rent,” Floyd said.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

Situated along the Detroit River just a short distance from Belle Isle Park and only blocks from Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center Towers is William G. Milliken State Park.

The 31 acre park includes a portion of the Detroit RiverWalk. The park is home to hawks, pheasants, muskrats, foxes, and other wildlife.

Fishing is also popular with kayakers and shorebound visitors. The Detroit River contains yellow perch, bluegill, rock bass, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and other species.

source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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