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Kayaking the Detroit River

Kayaking The Detroit River by David Witkowski

Kayak – check. PFD (Personal Floatation Device) – check. Paddle – check. Bilge pump – check. Digital camera – check. 2 other kayakers – check. Detroit River – check.

As I pulled my 10’ Walden  kayak off  the rack, gathered my gear and headed towards the abandoned ship building inlet next to the now demolished Medusa Cement factory, I thought…only in Detroit.

As we navigate down the broken cement rebar infected shoreline of  the shipbuilding inlet, we get a few bizarre looks from the local anglers on the pier at Tri- Centennial Park. Some smile and wave, some shake their heads and yell “You’re crazy!”

Detroit River

Moving out of the relatively calm water of the inlet and into the Detroit River, a sense of history, as well as a 10-15mile per hour current, surrounds us. We head upstream, against the current/headwind and start towards Belle Isle. We pass the old defunct Boblo Boat, Chene Park, a couple of 1,000 foot tankers, and get checked out by the U.S Coast Guard Homeland Security zodiac. I think, only in The D.

After and hour or so we reach the old lighthouse at the end of Belle Isle. We look out over lake St. Clair, and make the turn back towards downtown. Picking up the current we float under the MacArthur Bridge in no time. We pause and take in the view. As the Ren Cen and the Ambassador Bridge get closer, I can’t believe it’s October and it’s 87 degrees…only in The D.

We pull back into the shipbuilding inlet, avoiding the cast lines of the anglers. We end our paddle where we started, in the abandoned warehouse district of the city. Only in Detroit…

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  1. most people associate Detroit with industry and pollution, but the Detroit River is a HUGE evironmental sucess story.
    It’s amazing how much cleaner it is today than just a few decades ago.
    Last year I snuck into the ruins of the Detroit Boat Club and I was amazed at the wildlife that has taken over the grounds. I think I even saw a beaver (it had that flat sort of tail that beavers have). A beaver in Detroit? Well, it may have been a muskrat, but whatever it was, it was enjoying the clean water. And I saw a pair of foxes running along the shores of the river. Pretty cool.

    Posted by: Clayton | October 15, 2007
  2. I live in Windsor but also do a lot of paddling in the Detroit River. It’s a little bit further if your coming from the US side but Peche Island offers great paddling routes right in the middle of our two cities.

    Posted by: Johnny T | October 18, 2007
  3. You may have actually seen a beaver, as one was recently discovered at the Conners Creek power plant across from Belle Isle. The first in nearly a century! So keep your eyes peeled because there is a lot going on out there that we rarely catch sight of. Guerrilla wildlife, as it were…

    Posted by: MotorCityMe | May 13, 2009

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018