Paddle Antrim Festival


Paddling Ellsworth to Bellaire – Day 1

May 16, 2015 – As a kayaker who has spent the last five years doing short paddles with my two awesome future paddlers (ages 3 & 5), I was excited when we decided to “pre-paddle” the kayak event route for the Paddle Antrim Festival in September.  Today was the day to get out and do the 15+ miles of Day 1 which goes from Ellsworth to Bellaire.  Paddle Antrim’s president & COO of Short’s Brewing Company Matt Drake and I rounded up six other folks to join us.  It was a perfect mix of avid and recreational paddlers as well as friends and new faces.  We were all excited to enjoy a relaxing paddle as we headed out on our journey.

At just past 9:30, eight of us started our adventure on the sandy banks of River Park in Ellsworth.  I could already envision what the sea of colorful kayaks in September will look like as I got in my boat to begin.  The water was calm, temperatures in the 60s, and we all realized we were in for a perfect day of paddling.  We paddled slowly, enjoying the quiet waters and good company as we all got to know each other.  We meandered slowly the first 1 ½ miles through Ellsworth Lake in about 40 minutes as the clouds burned off leaving bright blue skies.  After passing under the bridge into Wilson Lake we passed a friendly fisherman but the only other company we had were some great blue herons fishing near the shore.

As we made our way through the narrow stretch between Wilson Lake and Ben-way we all quieted and enjoyed the wildlife around us.  On our left, we passed a goose perched on a large nest.  On our right, we paused from paddling to watch a beaver paddle around the shallow waters.  We counted thirteen turtles all sunning themselves on one small fallen log as we slowly passed by.

Paddling through the shallow narrow waters from Ben-way Lake into Hanley Lake, we carefully paddled around a swan who was swimming around in the water.  As we continued, we saw the first of many swans perched on nests, keeping eggs warm.  After two hours on the water, as we made our way into Hanley Lake, our pace quickened a bit in anticipation for our stop in Central Lake.

As we made our way into Central Lake, many friendly folks out enjoying the beautiful sunshine stopped and chatted with us from their docks.  After going under the Central Lake bridge, we paddled right and pulled our boats out on the sandy beach of Thurston Park to rest.  At almost the halfway point and after 3 hours in the water, it was a perfect spot to take a break and relax.  Still early in the day, we had plenty of time to enjoy the park.  With bathrooms and wonderful covered picnic pavilion, the park was a great spot to enjoy a nice snack and stretch before heading into Intermediate Lake.

As we headed into our last but longest lake of the day, we began to see a few motorboats out on the water but the water stayed calm as we picked up our pace energized from our rest.  Near the final turn before heading into the Intermediate River, the water shallowed and so clear we could see the fish swimming about.  Out in the middle of the narrow islands we saw more nesting swans enjoying the solitude.   As we headed into the Intermediate River, we knew our adventure was ending.  We slowed, enjoying the shallow waters and welcomed the current as it helped bring us to Bellaire’s Richardi Park in just under six hours.   And our day was only complete after we met  to enjoy a wonderful meal and beer at the Short’s Brewing Company pub.

As we talked, it was clear to me that this is the ideal day of kayaking for almost any paddler.  With smaller, calmer waters, a good length of time and distance on the water, and lots of beautiful nature, it is just about perfect.  As my husband and I drove home, he shared that 15 miles was a perfect paddle and he’d love to join me for the first half of the Paddle Antrim Festival Day 2 adventure.  As for myself, I was energized, and look forward to challenging myself to the full 27 miles of Day 2 from Bellaire to Elk Rapids.

Happy Paddling!
Deana, Executive Director

Paddle Antrim Festival Kayak Event Registration Opens

Paddle Antrim announced that registration is now open for the inaugural Paddle Antrim Festival kayak event which will be September 18 & 19, 2015.  This two-day, 40-mile kayak paddle through most of Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes, from Ellsworth to Elk Rapids, is a one-of-a-kind experience.

The first day meanders 16 peaceful miles through many small lakes from Ellsworth to Bellaire.  The second day is a more challenging 27 mile paddle from Bellaire through the Lower Chain of Lakes including the picturesque Torch Lake to Elk Rapids.  As a non-competitive event, paddlers are encouraged to choose their own adventure.  Early registration for the two days will be $100 and one day registration for $65 per day will begin June 1st.

“We are very excited about the level of enthusiasm we have received from the local communities, sponsors, and paddlers for this unique paddling event,” said Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director.  “We appreciate all of our sponsors and want to especially thank our main sponsor, Short’s Brewing Company for all their support as we carry on a tradition they began with their Short’s to Short’s paddle.  We look forward to celebrating these pristine waters and enjoying a wonderful paddle and local hospitality.”

Local communities are hosting great events as well that weekend for everyone to enjoy.  Ellsworth will kick off the festival Friday and Saturday mornings with breakfast, while paddlers and visitors can stop in Central Lake’s Thurston Park Friday afternoon.  Bellaire welcomes all for Friday night festivities.  Saturday along the route the Dockside Restaurant, Alden and Torch River welcome folks as well.  The festival will conclude with a wonderful party for everyone in downtown Elk Rapids Saturday night.

For registration or additional information, go online http://www.paddleantrim.com, email info@paddleantrim.com or call 231-492-0171.

Central Lake – A Paddle Antrim Festival Community

WELCOME! The Village of Central Lake is located in Antrim County, in the heart of Northwest Michigan’s “Chain Of  Lakes.” We have the beautiful waterways, friendly businesses, and a country life style offering a wide range of recreational activities. As a year-round vacation location, we welcome golfers, skiers, campers, hunters, snowmobilers, fishermen, and anyone looking for a peaceful get-a-way.

Summer events in Central Lake include art festivals, craft fairs, and the largest Fourth of July Parade for miles around. In addition to the parade, the Chamber sponsors music, a chicken barbecue, bazaar, and a strawberry shortcake extravaganza. Fireworks top off these activities making for a fun-filled family day.

Yes, Central Lake is a great place to vacation, to live, or to grow a business! We hope you will come see for yourself! It’s not always the destination, but the journey that matters. When you travel through our community, you will discover the beauty we have to offer. We have a framework blending our unique “Turn of the Century” charm for tourism and a place to call home.

Start your journey here…..in the beautiful Chain of Lakes..
Beware it’s a journey that could last a lifetime marked by people, places, and memories you choose to create here.

The Central Lake Area Chamber of Commerce office, a log cabin at the north end of the business district, is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

The Paddle Experience

Paddle Antrim Map 2015The first day begins on the sandy beaches at the Village of Ellsworth’s beautiful Ellsworth River Park.  In the first couple hours, paddlers cut through the calm waters of four small lakes before passing under the bridge into Intermediate Lake in the Village of Central Lake.  Thurston Park is a perfect spot to pull out and stretch with park amenities and restaurants and shops a quick walk up.  The paddle continues through the long, yet narrow, Intermediate Lake before passing under the picturesque pedestrian bridge as you enter Richardi Park in the Village of Bellaire.  The closeness of the shores throughout the paddle create a wonderful opportunity to really see the landscape and wildlife as you pass by.  In September, the trees are changing and the views are breathtaking.  Because this paddle is slightly shorter, 16 miles, and offers smaller lakes, it is also a great experience for paddlers looking for a calmer waters.

The second day begins at the Ohio Street boat launch in Bellaire on the Intermediate River before entering Lake Bellaire.  Paddlers continue through the scenic and incredibly important Grass River Natural Area  and Clam Lake before coming to the first checkpoint (9 miles) at the entrance to Torch Lake.  The crystal blue waters of Michigan’s second largest inland lake are amazing and paddlers may choose to stop halfway through in Alden at the second checkpoint (13 miles) where there are restaurants and supplies.  The final four miles of Torch Lake brings paddlers to the third checkpoint (17 miles) at the beginning of the Torch River.  Torch River flows into Lake Skegemog where paddlers enjoy the northern portion of the lake.  Paddlers will pass their fourth checkpoint (21 miles) before the final stretch through Elk Lake, ending at the Elk Rapids Chamber of Commerce kayak boat launch (26 miles).  This paddle is more technical and offers the open waters of the larger lakes, and yet is just as amazing as the upper portion of the Chain of Lakes.

Ellsworth – A Paddle Antrim Festival Community

Activity and enthusiasm share the stage in the Village of Ellsworth. Located at the north end of the Chain-of-Lakes, this community boasts strong agricultural and lumbering roots. It remains a solid agricultural region with many dairy and beef farms, orchards, vineyards and farm markets. Ellsworth is very involved in local and Chamber of Commerce events, programs and activities. One of the area’s signature events, the Pig Roast, is celebrated and produced each year the third weekend in June by an all-volunteer committee.  The Village of Ellsworth continues to be an active member of the Breezeway Task Force. The community leaders are constantly exploring ways to enhance and promote its many natural recreational and business amenities as well as improving the resident’s and visitor’s quality of life.

With its’ excellent location on the Chain-of-Lakes, Ellsworth offers a multitude of recreational opportunities for all ages including; kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing, boating, hiking, hunting, birding, photography or painting. The Wooden Shoe Campground, which is owned and operated by the village, is a great destination for campers. It features an up north setting and includes many family-oriented amenities. A stop at the Ellsworth Labyrinth (one of the largest in the Northern Midwest) located on the shores of Ellsworth Lake allows a chance to relax, meditate and contemplate. The Ellsworth Community Park offers an elevated archery range, covered pavilion, multi-purpose building, restrooms, playground area, day boat dock, walking paths, observation deck, sledding hill and a paved parking area.

A perfect adventure and a chance to escape to your inner spirit awaits you in Ellsworth. Celebrate and explore the natural beauty and tranquility that is offered here year round. Nature and art in perfect harmony, along with restoration and advancement, abound and grow throughout the entire region!

For more information on local events, business offerings and opportunities, check out the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce or the Village of Ellsworth.

– East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce

Bellaire – A Paddle Antrim Festival Community

As you will see, the lovely Village of Bellaire has much to offer its visitors as well as its residents. It’s a wonderful place to visit, live, raise a family or retire.  The community is looking forward to being a part of the Paddle Antrim Festival.

Water is the backdrop of life in Bellaire, the county seat. Swimming, boating, fishing and beach-combing are summer activities that give way in the fall to driving tours along some of Michigan’s most scenic back roads. In the winter, snowmobile trails, sledding spots and Shanty Creek’s ski slopes provide plenty of fun. Golf swings into action in the spring as the area heats up again. Bellaire is an outdoor enthusiast paradise with endless hiking & biking trails, mushroom hunting, and more.

The Village’s 1,200 residents know how to throw a party. Each August the town has a fabulous Annual Rubber Ducky Festival downtown with food, arts, crafts, a parade and a Rubber Ducky Race. Other annual activities include Paddle Antrim, September’s Harvest Festival & Scarecrow Extravaganza, a Holiday Gift Fair, Light Up The Night, Parade, Soup Cook-Off and much more.

Get to know Bellaire by visiting our unique gift, clothing and art shops as well as great places to eat and drink, plus a traditional movie theater make Bellaire a day-into-evening destination. Bellaire has numerous accommodations including Award winning Bed & Breakfasts, Motels, Inns, Resorts, cabins as well as parks and campgrounds.

We look forward to your visit to Bellaire!  The Bellaire Chamber of Commerce

Paddle Antrim Festival Dates Announced

For Immediate Release

Paddle Antrim Festival Dates Announced

Bellaire, MI – Paddle Antrim will present the first Paddle Antrim Festival on September 18 & 19, 2015.  The Paddle Antrim Festival includes a two-day kayak paddle through Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes.  The first day begins in Ellsworth continuing through Central Lake to Bellaire, meandering through numerous small lakes.   The second day will continue from Bellaire, ending in Elk Rapids, passing through Torch Lake, Michigan’s longest inland lake.  This 40+ mile paddle event highlights the wonderful natural resources-based activities available in Northern Michigan.

Along the route, local communities including Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, and Elk Rapids will host other events, illustrating what wonderful opportunities the communities have to offer.  “The communities along the Chain of Lakes Water Trail are very excited and honored to be able to showcase their many amenities and attractions for participants and their guests of the Paddle Antrim event,” says Mary Faculak, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce President.  “It is the wish of the many individuals, businesses, clubs and organizations involved with this new event and organization that many new paddlers will be introduced to our area and that they will continue to utilize this spectacular water trail for years to come. The event and organization is a tremendous economic boost for the entire Chain of Lakes and surrounding communities. I see it only growing and quickly becoming one of Antrim County’s signature events.”

Short’s Brewing Company has agreed to be a major sponsor of the Paddle Antrim Festival. The Festival will conclude with a celebration at Short’s Brewing Company’s Production Facility in Elk Rapids.  For five years (2009-2013), Short’s hosted a similar paddle from Bellaire to Elk Rapids known as the Short’s to Short’s Paddle.  Short’s COO Matt Drake stated, “Short’s is proud to support the Paddle Antrim Festival. Though it became impractical for us to continue to hold a major paddling event, we were thrilled that our community rallied behind the concept and that it will live on by supporting Paddle Antrim’s effort to bring awareness to the waterways in Northern Michigan.”

More information on Paddle Antrim and the Festival is available at www.paddleantrim.com.

About Paddle Antrim

Paddle Antrim is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization created to support efforts to maintain water quality in the rivers, lakes, and streams in Antrim County Michigan. We support investments in water trail infrastructures that facilitate public access to the waterways in Antrim County. We educate the public and promote public awareness of the waterways in Antrim County and the need to preserve and protect these natural resources.