If you ever wanted to know How to Kayak the Detroit River In A Day, the information in this article can be very helpful to you.
The Detroit River divides Detroit, Michigan and Windsor Ontario and is a great destination for the Urban Paddler that ranks with New York and Chicago. The entire 30 mile or 50 kilometer trip can be completed in 5 to 8 hours depending on how often and long you stop for rest and sight seeing.
There are three sections to the river. The UPPER, MIDDLE, and LOWER.
The upper is from Lake St. Clair to the Ambassador Bridge. The Middle is from The Ambassador Bridge to the town of La Salle.The Lower is from La Salle to Lake Erie.
Th upper section of the river flows from east to west. If you are on the Windsor side you look due north to Detroit. The prevailing westerly winds blow opposite the current and can build some impressive waves for surf kayakers.
Kayak Cove is located at Sandpoint Park on Riverside Dr just east of Lakeview Marina and is the best place to access the mouth of the river from the Canadian side. There is free public parking across the street from the park.
Just across from Kayak Cove is Peche Island nature park. There is a small creek that goes under a bridge that will take you into the interior of the island. The island is the home to nesting Great Horned Owl and a pair of Bald Eagles.
Just down stream is Belle Island on the American side. American Paddlers can access the river at this point.
There is channel that will take you to the west side of Belle Island where you can see the Detroit Yacht Club and the Detroit Boat Club.
If you stay on the west side of the Island and come around the bottom of the island to the east side you can paddle back up stream and then cut across to the International Peace Fountain a beautiful floating fountain on the Canadian side for a refreshing shower on hot days.
From here you can paddle back to Kayak Cove along the shore, out of the main flow.This is a great day trip if you just have one vehicle.
If you are continuing on down to the Ambassador Bridge, there is a river exit just down stream from the Hiram Walker Distillery and the large white grain elevators.
This section of the river can have erratic conditions down to the Ambassador Bridge as the river opens up and there are prevailing winds.
There is a take out at Chewitt Beach parking at McKee Park just past the Ambassador Bridge on the Canadian side. This is a good place to have a second vehicle if you are not doing the whole river.
If you are doing the whole river this a good place to stop and rest before doing the middle section.
The middle section the river is not recommended unless you plane to go to at least La Salle. The river bends and flows south at this point.This section is home to Detroit’s steel mills and factories.Also on the American side is Old Fort Wayne were Yankee troops gathered to fight the south during the Civil War. The area is also where the Underground Railroad ended for slaves escaping to Canada.
The middle section, is about 10 kilometers long and because of the factories and steel mills there is steel sea wall along the river. Finding a place to rest may be difficult until you past them.
The lower section starts in La Salle. There is put in at the foot of Laurier Drive across from the top of Fighting Island.
At Fighting Island the one time battle ground between Canada and the U.S. you have a choice of channels. The main seaway channel is the west side. There are also two eastern channels running past many private marinas, sailing clubs and the Windsor Crew Rowing Club.
Below Fighting Island and Turkey Island, the Detroit River opens up to look like a lake with natural wet lands.
There is a access point just up the Canard River at The Walter K. Ranta Marina. On the American side you have Grosse Ile the river’s largest island and an up scale Detroit suburb. It has two swing bridges on the American side.
As you near Amherstburg you past Fort Malden on the Canadian side.This was a strategic post to control the mouth of this river for the British during the war of 1812.
The island off of Amherstburg is one of the most historic islands in all of the Great Lakes. Named Bois Blanc Island by French explores in 1670, is more commonly named Bob-lo Island.
The bottom of Bob-lo Island points out into Lake Erie at this point you are almost out of the Detroit River and you have just paddled between two of the Great Lakes and along the border of two countries.
If you paddle back up to Duffy’s Motor Inn and Tavern there is a town ramp. If you are staying at the Inn you can park your vehicle in their lot. If not you may have to park on a side street
There is also Holiday Beach Conservation Area if you are into camping.
I recommend staying at the Inn and see if you can get a staff member to run you up to Kayak Cove along Riverside Dr, or taking your kayaks up in one vehicle and having a second at the put out spot of your choice.
If you are going out for just a few hours or are going to run the whole river, it is a great paddle and I highly recommend it.