Paddle Antrim Festival

Applications accepted for Spring Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program

Paddle Antrim is accepting applications for the Ripple Effect Mini Grant Program.  This competitive grant program funds projects that protect our waterways and connect people to them.  The program focuses on projects related to stewardship, education and increasing accessibility to our waterways.

“This is a great opportunity for non-profits and governmental entities to expand existing programs or help fund a new initiative that protects our water resources,” says Deana Jerdee, executive director.  “Last fall we awarded over $3,900 and look forward to funding other great projects in our region.”

Grants may be use for water resource stewardship projects such as controlling invasive species, education projects for boaters or the community, and improving public access sites for non-motorized boats.  Applicants must be a non-profit organization or governmental entity.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday May 13, 2016 to be considered in this round.  More information can be found online at


Paddle Antrim Awards over $3,900 in Grants for the Chain of Lakes Region

Paddle Antrim announced it will award over $3900 to four projects that will help benefit Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes region through education, water resources protection, and increasing access to the water.

The four awardees are:

Antrim County Emergency Management – To assist with water rescue training for all fire departments, Antrim County Emergency Management will purchase an adult CPR water rescue manikin ($925).

Grass River Natural Area, Inc. – Grass River will launch a “Links in the Chain Outreach Initiative” to educate residents and visitors on water and stream ecology, which will include an interactive stream table ($1,000).

Intermediate Lake Association – Intermediate Lake Association will continue their dissolved oxygen monitoring program in Intermediate Lake ($1,000).

Milton Township – Milton Township will install a universally accessible kayak launch and a water trail head at Kewadin Waterfront Park ($1,000).

“We are very pleased to be able to launch the Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program in Paddle Antrim’s first year,” says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim’s Executive Director.  “We received many excellent applications and are very excited to help fund four excellent projects for the region.”

Paddle Antrim’s Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program awards grants through a competitive review process to local non-profit and governmental organizations whose projects align with their mission to protect the water resources and enhance the economic vitality of the region through stewardship, education, improved water trail access and promotion of the waterways.  The next round of funding will be in the spring.  To learn more, visit our Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program.

Paddle Antrim Announces Mini-Grants Available for the Chain of Lakes Watershed

Paddle Antrim announced today that applications to request funding through their new Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program are now available.  Paddle Antrim is a nonprofit organization who uses paddle sports to educate the public about our precious water resources. This grant program focuses on helping protect the Chain of Lakes watershed through on the ground stewardship, education, and access improvements to the water trail.

“Collaboration and giving back to our communities is an important value of Paddle Antrim” says Deana Jerdee, Executive Director.  “We are excited to have the opportunity in our first year to give back to other groups whose values, goals, and desired impacts align with ours.”

Paddle Antrim’s Ripple Effect mini-grant program uses funds netted above their organizational costs so the total amount of the grants we award will vary from year to year. This year they have $6,000 available to award.  The Board will use its discretion to make modest and meaningful gifts of $500 – $5,000 to Michigan-based nonprofits who serve the Chain of Lakes community and units of government within the Chain of Lakes watershed. Each application will be evaluated on its merit and prudent use of funds.

Ripple Effect grants are awarded through a competitive application process and applications are due November 13, 2015 and May 13, 2016 for this year’s funding cycle.  More information and the application form can be found on Paddle Antrim’s website,

Because of Water – Elk Rapids Rotary Park

There’s a lot of great things that are happening in Northern Michigan related to water and one group is helping to tell a little of the story.

A dedicated group of individuals from Elk Rapids including the Rotary, Parks and Recreation Commission, Historical Society and local businesses are making history come to life by explaining the history of the area’s relationship with the waterways.  When headed south on  US-31 through Elk Rapids, the first thing you will notice in Rotary Park is the absolutely amazing map showing the region’s lakes which takes up the building’s entire north wall.  Storyboards have be installed in the pavilion’s interior and more are being installed on the outside.  They tell the stories of the river’s stumps, local shipwrecks, and more.  We are excited there is even one with Paddle Antrim Festival route.

In addition to the wonderful information and great pavilion for picnics or resting, there’s a great kayak launch with parking.  This is a great place for paddlers to learn about the area and launch for a trip through Elk Lake.  Next time you are in the area, make sure to stop by and check this great little spot out.

Paddle Antrim Lowers Registration

8894824250_87a021bb23_oPaddle Antrim announced they are lowing registration rates for their two-day non-competitive paddle event through Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes Water Trail on September 18th and 19th, recently named one of the top three water trails in Michigan.

“One of our goals is to have as many people as we can experience our amazing Chain of Lakes in a non-impactful way and build a personal connection with our precious resource,” stated Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director.  “Due to donations and our wonderful sponsors including Short’s Brewing Company, Imperial Beverage, and Green Carbon, Inc, we are able to lower registration rates so more individuals can experience the Chain of Lakes.”

Registration for one day is now $45 and $72 for both days.  Registration includes entry into the event, a participant number, custom event t-shirt, event sticker, and beer token.  Friday paddlers will receive a free lunch in Central Lake and be welcomed to Bellaire with a relaxed block party featuring music and refreshments.  The Festival will conclude with a final bash for the arriving paddlers in downtown Elk Rapids with Short’s beer, great local food and live music by The Sleeping Gypsies.  Registration ends September 4th.

This two day paddle begins in Ellsworth and meanders 15 peaceful miles through many small lakes to Bellaire.  The second day begins in Bellaire and travels through the Lower Chain of Lakes including the picturesque Torch Lake to Elk Rapids, for an additional 27-miles.  As a non-competitive event, paddlers are encouraged to choose their own adventure, and may select to paddle only one day or drop out at any of the checkpoints along the route either day.

Paddle Antrim Ready to Kick Off First Festival

Paddle Antrim is quickly gaining recognition for bringing awareness to the amazing treasures of Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes and the wonderful communities along the water trail.  This non-profit organization is hosting the first Paddle Antrim Festival September 18 & 19, 2015.  The event is highlighted by a two-day kayak paddle through Antrim County’s Chain of Lakes and five communities.

The two day paddle includes most of the Upper Chain of Lakes, beginning in Ellsworth.  The first day meanders 15 peaceful miles through many small lakes from Ellsworth to Bellaire, a must-see with waters calm enough for beginning kayakers to enjoy.  The second day is a 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, and may select to paddle only one day or drop out at any of the checkpoints along the route either day.  Registration, which ends August 30th, for the two days is $120 and one day registration is $75.

“The communities along the Chain of Lakes 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.  Each community along the route will roll out the red carpet for the event’s paddlers.  Friday paddlers will have breakfast in Ellsworth, followed by lunch in Central Lake’s Thurston Park.  Later in the day, paddlers will be welcomed to Bellaire with a relaxed block party featuring music and refreshments.  Saturday night will conclude with a final bash for the arriving paddlers in downtown Elk Rapids.  That evening Paddle Antrim’s two top sponsors, Short’s Brewing Company and Imperial Beverage, will serve  beer, while paddlers and friends can enjoy great local food and live music by The Sleeping Gypsies.

The Paddle Antrim Festival fundraiser will not only celebrate the waterways but also raise money for these communities.  Paddle Antrim is dedicated to giving back by providing funding for projects focused on water resources education, stewardship, and increasing access to the water for everyone.

“We are so excited about the level of enthusiasm we have received from the local communities, sponsors, and paddlers for our mission and this unique paddling event,” said Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director.  “We appreciate all of our sponsors and want to especially thank 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 the pristine waters and enjoying a wonderful paddle and local hospitality.”

For five years, Short’s Brewing Company hosted a paddle from their pub in Bellaire to their production plant in Elk Rapids, which was called the Short’s to Short’s Paddle.  That event had a goal of raising awareness about the precious water resources located in Antrim County, where all Short’s beer is produced.  “We’re excited that Paddle Antrim has taken our idea to the next level.  The Paddle Antrim Festival is going to be a fun and adventurous way to celebrate the unique beauty of our region while also giving back to all of our communities.  We look forward to participating and are proud to be the event’s major sponsor,” stated Short’s COO Matt Drake.

For registration or additional information, go online, email or call 231-492-0171.



Paddle Antrim Raffling off Kayak & Paddle Board

Win yourself a new kayak or paddle board!  We teamed up with Bellaire Rotary for a Kayak Raffle to raise money for our communities and precious waters here in Northern Michigan.

1st- 12′ Daggar Axis kayak with paddle and car accessories

2nd – 10′ Pelican paddle board and paddle

3rd – $250 cash

4th-10th – $50

We want to especially thank Backcountry North of Traverse City & Alden Marine & Sport for your support with the prizes.

Raffle tickets are available now at: Edward Jones (Bellaire), Paddles & Pedals (Bellaire) or Bellaire Chamber (Bellaire), Alden State Bank locations (Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake & Elk Rapids), Alden Outfitters (Alden & Bellaire) and more locations to come.

Paddle Antrim Offers Intro Kayaking Classes

Ever wanted to learn to kayak?  Maybe you have been out a few times in a kayak but want to feel more comfortable out on the water?

Paddle Antrim is offering half-day Introduction to Kayaking classes on August 16th, 17th, and 18th throughout Antrim County.  Participants will learn the basics to get them out on the water and off to the right start.  The class will go over the equipment, the fundamentals of moving these long boats around, and capsize recovery techniques.  This class is on the water so students will learn and practice basic paddling strokes, rescue techniques, and deep-water re-entry. This ACA-certified course is designed for beginning kayakers looking to get into the sport and give it a try.  Class sizes are limited to just five participants to ensure great interaction and instruction.


For registration or additional information, go online , email or call 231-492-0171.


Elk Rapids – A Paddle Antrim Festival Community

elk rapids rotary parkEmbraced by East Grand Traverse Bay to the west, Elk Lake to the east and Bass Lake to the north, Elk Rapids is one of the most charming of all the harbor towns in Northwest Lower Michigan. Comprised of one square mile, everything is within walking distance: public beaches, unique dining, quaint shops and an abundance of access points for boaters navigating the waters of Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay and Antrim Chain of Lakes. The centerpiece of this unparalleled level of access is our municipal harbor; one of the finest in the Great Lakes.

We’re a classic small Northern Michigan town, and we believe our fate is intrinsically tied to the earthly beauty of water and rural landscape that surrounds our community. Our style is simple and eclectic as we inject our simple cottage life with worldly influence brought about through visitors and sojourns. We are a bright, creative, outdoorsy, active, friendly, conscientious, courteous and beautiful town – and we can hardly wait to act as the final stopping point in the Paddle Antrim Festival. We look forward to celebrating the paddle with you.

Paddling Bellaire to Elk Rapids – Day 2

June 1, 2015 – Today’s the day we were paddling from Bellaire to Elk Rapids, Day 2 of the Paddle Antrim Festival kayak event and I could not wait.  After paddling Day 1 two weeks earlier, I was eager to take on the new challenge of 27 miles, longer than I have ever paddled in the past.  The crew included Paddle Antrim president/COO of Short’s Brewing Company Matt Drake, other great folks from Short’s and another paddling friend, most who had done the route numerous times.  While in September there will be plenty of safety boats to point the way paddlers on the route, I was happy to have a crew of who knew the route well to keep us on track.

We met at the Ohio Street launch in Bellaire and were on the water by 8:30.  The sun was shining, it was a comfortable 60 degrees and as we set out for our adventure.  We quickly paddled through the Intermediate River and entered Lake Bellaire where a pair of loons greeted us by popping up right in front of our kayaks.  We stopped paddling for a moment and watched in wonder, having never been that close to a loon before.  They seemed completely unbothered by us as they went on their way.  We continued across the calm lake to the entrance of the Grass River Natural Area, a great place to hike and just as amazing in the water.  In Grass River, we watched as three deer pranced through the wetland and took a quick break near the mouth of Cold Creek to enjoy the tranquility.

The waters continued to be calm as we headed out into Clam Lake where we were greeted by swans this time.  After 7 miles and about 2 ½ hours, we decided to stretch our legs at the Clam Lake’s DNR boat launch.  By 11 am, we passed the Dockside Restaurant, Checkpoint #1, and entered Torch Lake.  The crystal waters were beautiful and only small waves lapped at our boats as we made our way down the shore.  At a little after 12 pm, we stopped in Alden, Checkpoint #2, for a needed rest and some lunch.  After 14 miles at a good pace, it was a great paddle so far.

After a great break, we were all refreshed and ready to continue down Torch Lake.  As the winds were picking up slightly, we put our spray skirts on to keep us dry from any small splashes.  We enjoyed the open waters of the southern portion of Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake, ending in the shallow waters of the Torch Lake Sandbar.  At 2 pm, after another hour on the water, we passed the Torch River Bridge, Checkpoint #3, and the crystal waters continued into the Torch River.  The waters were calm as we chatted, enjoying the different docks and boats along the shore.  When we entered Lake Skegemog, we are once again alone in nature in the Lake Skegemog Wildlife Area.  We are careful to follow the boat channel as to not get stuck in the stumps as we made our way through.  We could feel the headwind picking up slightly as we make our way toward our last checkpoint.  As we did at every checkpoint, our group checked in to make sure we were all comfortable and ready for the next leg of the journey.  As an event to celebrate the water, our attitude is any day out on the water is an awesome day, whether you paddle 5 miles or 27 miles.  We were all still feeling good so at 3:30 we paused near the Chippewa Trail Extension boat launch, Checkpoint #4, to adjust our gear and stretch before the final six miles.  While we paused, we saw more amazing wildlife as a fawn peeked out through a tree and a swan with seven small cygnets swam by.

As we headed out onto Elk Lake, the winds and waves continued, making for a fun challenge.  We took our time and steadily make our way up the lake into Elk River.  At 6 pm, we make our way to the end in Elk Rapids.  As we stretched and loaded our boats in Elk Rapids, we are all tired but feeling good.  We talked about how each trip is such a different experience depending on conditions but every time amazing.  While tired, I was thrilled I was able to experience the entire route, each portion so different from the others.  Whether you are looking for a 5 mile or a 40 mile adventure, we look forward to sharing this amazing experience with you in September!

Deana, Executive Director