Paddle Antrim is leading the effort to create and market a new non-motorized water trail through the Chain of Lakes. A water trail is a designated route along a river, lake, or bay specifically designed for people using small, non-motorized boats like kayaks, canoes, single sailboats or rowboats. These trails are the aquatic equivalent to a hiking trail. Water trails typically feature well-developed access and launch points, are near significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest, and often include nearby amenities such as restaurants, hotels and campgrounds.
Paddle Antrim’s role leading the development of the water trail includes working with a long list of public and private sector partners. Units of government throughout the Chain from Ellsworth to Elk Rapids, along with Chambers of Commerce in Ellsworth, Bellaire, Central Lake, and Elk Rapids, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Antrim Conservation District and Short’s Brewing Company are part of a growing list of supporters who are involved in trail planning in their area.
Many significant shore lands have already been protected as parks and natural areas within the Chain of Lakes which are great assets for a water trail. In 2014, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy developed an inventory of potential access points for the water trail. We appreciate being able to use this information as a foundation to continue moving the project forward.
Paddle Antrim is currently developing a water trail plan that will identify all of the different access points and a variety of potential routes throughout the watershed. The plan will include a list of recommended future improvements which may include better parking areas, universally accessible kayak and canoe sites, enhanced restroom facilities, signage, and places to clean watercraft to discourage the spread of invasive species. We look forward to sharing this plan by the end of the year with local units of government and other project partners for their consideration.
Paddle Antrim is deeply committed to the stewardship of the waterways. We are excited about the opportunity to integrate information about water quality protection and stewardship into the planning and marketing effort for the water trail. With the support of many partner organizations, we will prioritize information on invasive species and other concerns into our marketing materials. We hope to develop and install some modest signage at strategic access points along the route that provides information about ways that recreational users can support and sustain on-going efforts to preserve and manage lands and shorelines to maintain high water quality. This includes sharing information on leaving no trace and paddler ethics as well as about the on-going efforts and leadership of local watershed groups, lake associations, and others and their important water quality monitoring and protection work.