Paddling along Michigan’s Thumb

Extending 110 miles around the geographical Thumb of Michigan, the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail’s diverse ecosystems and landscapes will satisfy all paddlers and accommodate all skill levels.

The west side of the Thumb, from Quanicassee to Sand Point, is a wildlife wonderland. The shore is mostly undeveloped wetlands, the water is shallow, islands create protected harbors and the bird species are too numerous to name. In the spring and fall this area is a stop over for migratory waterfowl.

From Sand Point to Port Austin the shore transforms from wetlands to sandy beaches. Port Crescent State Park hosts the largest sand dunes on the east side of the State and the tastiest wild blueberries. The resort towns of Caseville and Port Austin have wonderful restaurants and shops.

Rounding the Tip of the Thumb and entering Lake Huron, the landscape dramatically changes to some of the most picturesque rock formations in the Great Lakes. Receding glaciers left behind huge boulders, cliffs, sea caves and sea stacks. The shoreline has the feel of a mini Pictured Rocks (but much safer to paddle).

The east side of the thumb is rugged, quiet and natural. It is common to see eagles overhead and deer and raccoons along the shore. Historical lighthouses in Port Austin, Port Hope and Harbor Beach are an added bonus to the trip.

The entire trail is dotted with campgrounds for those that want to paddle for more than a day. The small towns along the shore are interesting, fun and hospitable. In the first weekend of June, the town of Port Austin hosts a kayak festival and transforms its shoreline into a huge rustic campground for paddlers. Kayakers come from all around the Midwest come to paddle the trail.

Chris Boyle, member and former Vice President of the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail. Chris is currently paddling the entire trail compiling an inventory. He has completed ¾ of the trail as of this date. He also owns a kayak rental shop in Port Austin that services the trail.

Great Resources:

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