Category: Blog


Help us Open the Chain of Lakes Water Trail

When people have fun and positive experiences on the water, they fall in love with a place. It’s this sense of care that leads to a curiosity about what makes a place special and nurtures an instinct to protect it.

Paddle Antrim is currently leading and coordinating the development of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail. Your support for this effort will help to create a high quality and accessible experience for paddlers of all ages and ability levels with over 80 miles of lakes and rivers to explore through numerous communities. By creating and enhancing access, we can engage more people out on the water, connecting them with nature and improving opportunities for their health and well-being.

“Paddle Antrim was formed 5 years ago with a mission to promote stewardship of our waterways for future generations and engage people out on the water. The annual festival they now host was inspired by the Short’s to Short’s paddle which celebrated where we live and also honored our journey as a small business. Paddle Antrim’s leadership of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail is key to providing an incredible experience out on the water, connecting people to lakes and rivers they’re falling in love with and want to protect, and promoting the development of the trail as an asset to support the economic vitality of our small communities. I’m proud to be one of the earliest supporters of their work.”  Joe Short, Founder of Short’s Brewing Company 

To open the water trail for all users, we need your help raising $70,000 by December 31st. This is the final 25% of our capital campaign goal of $275,000. Over the past four years, we have worked to secure 81 access sites owned by 17 jurisdictions to open up over 80 miles of water trail to be explored. The State of Michigan recognized our efforts to date by designating us a State Water Trail; the only water trail in Northern Michigan and the only lake-system trail in the state. With your gift, in 2020, we will:

  • Install signs at each water trail access site where there is an approved agreement
  • Develop a waterproof guide for paddlers to use while out on the water
  • Update our website so people can plan their paddling experience
  • Share stewardship, safety and community information on signs, guides, and online

These outcomes will not be possible without your support. We look forward to opening the trail and continuing to work alongside our public and non-profit partners to protect the lakes and rivers you love for future generations. Please support this vision for an open and accessible water trail with a year-end 100% tax deductible donation.  Thank you for your consideration and continued support.

With Gratitude,

Deana

Paddle Antrim announces Public Phase of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail Capital Campaign

Paddle Antrim is pleased to announce the public phase of its capital campaign to open the Chain of Lakes Water Trail.  The water trail includes over 80 miles of trail through sixteen unique lakes and rivers. To date, Paddle Antrim has raised over $180,000, two-thirds of its $275,000 capital campaign goal. 

Through this campaign, Paddle Antrim will install the signage and develop materials needed for users to have a quality experience out on the water. The signs and materials will include practical information on the trail but also convey important messages such as stewardship, safety and highlight the local communities. Such information ensures paddlers will have a safe and enjoyable adventure but also be informed on how to be good stewards of our lakes, rivers, and wildlife.

“The water trail is about connecting people to our waterways and our communities in a low-impact manner,” says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim Executive Director. “The Chain of Lakes Water Trail will be a unique asset for the region. It is one of only eight state-designated water trails in Michigan, the only water trail in Northern Michigan.”

According to recent outdoor recreation studies, participation in all paddle sport industries are on the rise and water trails are a way to help those paddlers have a quality experience while out on the water. Water trails encourage healthy lifestyles, provide a sense of community and place, encourage preservation of waterways for future generations, and positively impact local businesses.

“The communities and businesses along the Chain of Lakes Water Trail are so fortunate to have this “ever-lasting gift” presented to them!” says Mary Faculak, CEO/President of the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce. “The economic impact of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail will be far-reaching and will only continue to grow and flourish over the years.”

“We are grateful for our generous supporters who have helped us reach this point in the campaign and depend on the support of the community and others who value protection of our waterways and access to nature to help us complete our goal,” says Jerdee.  Significant contributions have been made by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, The Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, Frey Foundation, and many of the local governments and non-profits who own and maintain the access sites on the water trail. 

Paddle Antrim is working to complete this campaign by the end of the year so that installation of signage and development of materials will be complete for the 2020 paddling season. For more information on the campaign and to donate, go online: www.paddleantrim.com or contact Deana Jerdee, executive director at 231-492-0171 or deana@paddleantrim.com.

Improvements planned for Elk Rapids Rotary Park

Paddle Antrim is working with the Village of Elk Rapids to design improvements to Rotary Park. This project will include identified improvements and provide opportunities for community input.  “Improvements to Rotary Park, including a kayak launch, were identified in the Village of Elk Rapids’ Recreation Survey in 2017,” says Caroline Kennedy, Elk Rapids Assistant Village Manager. “We appreciate Paddle Antrim’s support in securing the funding for this project and look forward to working with the entire community to better utilize this beautiful park.”

Paddle Antrim is leading the development of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail and Rotary Park is a key access site for the water trail. This water trail is one of eight state-designated water trails and the only one in Northern Michigan. Paddlers can explore over 80 miles of trail through sixteen different lakes and rivers, providing a variety of different paddling experiences for all levels. “The Village of Elk Rapids is a key community on the Chain of Lakes Water Trail and Rotary Park is the ideal location for paddlers to begin or end a quality paddling experience, “says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim Executive Director.  “We are excited to work with the Village and other partners to make improvements, including a universal kayak launch to assist those with varying levels of mobility be able to access the water.  This project would not be possible without the generous support of many organizations.” 

Generous funding for this project was provided by Elk Skegemog Lakes Association, Elk Rapids Rotary Club, Community Foundation, Village of Elk Rapids, Disability Network Northern Michigan, Gourdie-Frasier & Associates and individual Elk Rapids Rotarians. “Elk Skegemog Lakes Association is proud to support the improvement of access to our waterways.  We support Paddle Antrim’s water trail efforts and inclusion of stewardship of our resources as part of the trail,” says Mary Beth Kazanski, President of the Elk Skegemog Lakes Association. 

For more information on this project contact Paddle Antrim directly at info@paddleantrim.com or 231-492-0171 or go online at www.paddleantrim.com. 

Paddlers Take to the Chain of Lakes

Elk Rapids, MI – Paddle Antrim is ready to celebrate Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes at the Paddle Antrim Festival September 12-14th.  This event is highlighted by 170 paddlers embarking on a two-day paddle through the Chain of Lakes and includes community events all weekend long for the entire community. 

On Friday September 13th paddlers will launch from the Village of Ellsworth’s River Park and paddle up to 15 miles to the Village of Bellaire.  On Saturday, they will continue from Bellaire and paddle up to 27 miles to the Village of Elk Rapids.  “This event highlights the pristine and diverse waters and quaint communities that our area has to offer,” says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director. “Watching all of the paddlers launching in Ellsworth together is a pretty amazing sight.”

There will be community events all three days and Paddle Antrim encourages the entire community to come out and be a part.  The Paddle Antrim Festival starts with the Kick-off Party on the 12th from 5:30-8:00 pm at Ellsworth River Park (6625 Bridge St). There will be great live music from Holly Keller-Thompson as well as opportunities for great food from Miller’s Sweet Roasted Corn. The party continues Friday afternoon from 2-5pm in Bellaire’s Richardi Park with music by Leslee and Peter and outdoor games. 

The Festival concludes with a Final Bash Saturday afternoon from 3-9 at Short’s Brewing Company’s Production Facility (211 Industrial Park Dr. Elk Rapids).  This family friendly event features great food by Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, brews from Short’s Brewing Company, and live music by Olivia Mainville and Jakey Thomas. There will be outdoor games for everyone to enjoy. 

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

Paddle Antrim Awards nearly $3,000 to the Region

Paddle Antrim announced it will award $2,965 to five projects that benefit Northern Michigan’s waterways through its Ripple Effect Mini Grant Program.

“We are pleased to support and enhance these local projects that align with our mission, focusing on collaboration instead of duplication” says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim’s Executive Director. In the past four years, Paddle Antrim has awarded over $24,000 through this program.

Three projects focused on stewardship intiatives in the region. Antrim Conservation District was awarded $565 toward the installation of a rain garden in Ellsworth in conjunction with the school’s Lancer Leap program. The Boardman River Clean Sweep was awarded $400 for equipment to host a clean up on Torch River in August. The Au Sable Institute was awarded $500 toward installation of a greenhouse to grow their own plants for their REYS program which provides environmental education to 5th graders.

Two projects focused on improving access to local lakes. The Village of Bellaire was awarded $500 for continued development of a non-motorized boat launch at Richardi Park for the Chain of Lakes Water Trail.  Disability Network of Northern Michigan in collaboration with Leadership Charlevoix County was awarded $1,000 toward development of a non-motorized boat launch at Ferry Park in the City of Charlevoix.

Paddle Antrim’s Ripple Effect Mini-Grant Program awards grant 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 funding comes from revenue earned through classes and events. The next round of funding will be in October 2019. To learn more about Paddle Antrim, the Ripple Effect grant program or the Chain of Lakes Water Trail, please visit www.paddleantrim.com.

DNR recognizes designation of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail

Elk Rapids, MI – On Friday June 14, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance staff gathered with representatives and supporters of the non-profit group Paddle Antrim to recognize the Chain of Lakes Water Trail as one of eight state designated water trails at a designation ceremony in Ellsworth Michigan, the start of this 80+ mile water trail in the pristine waters of Northern Michigan.

“Michigan is in a great position to work with partners to create this new, statewide water trails program,” said Paul Yauk, DNR statewide trail coordinator. “By designating these lakes and rivers as official water trails, we will shine even more light on these incredible natural resources. The Chain of Lakes Water Trail is a perfect example of a water trail in Michigan that will encourage outdoor recreation, healthy lifestyles and will serve as a regional destination to advance the local economy.”

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail, planned, coordinated and led by Paddle Antrim, is an extensive trail with over 80 miles of routes through 14 stunning lakes and rivers. This water trail is a inter-jurisdictional and public-private collaborative effort, with 81 access sites owned/managed by 17 governmental jurisdictions and non-profit organizations that stretches through four counties in Northwest Michigan (Antrim, Charlevoix, Kalkaska, and Grand Traverse).

“Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is pleased to support the recent designation of the Chain of Lakes as one of the first officially designated inland water trails in Michigan,” said Bob Wilson, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance executive director. “It’s a well-deserved designation due to the important role played by volunteers, by Deana Jerdee, the Paddle Antrim organization and by the local units of government that have so successfully built this trail and welcomed paddlers from all parts of the state.”

From the small upper lakes to Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake, there is an incredible diversity of paddling opportunities, making it a destination for all paddlers. Paddler experiences include wildlife viewing, natural areas best explored paddle craft, sunken ships, island exploration, and great fishing opportunities. The communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, Alden and Elk Rapids are located along the trail and make great destinations for launching, exiting, or resting from a paddle while enjoying the towns’ dining, shopping, lodging, and other recreational experiences. 

“Water trails are a wonderful way to connect local residents and visitors to the amazing waters of Northern Michigan,” said Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim Executive Director. “This water trail will not only have a significant positive impact on our local economy but will get people out and active on the water. We believe when people are engaged on the water, they will work to protect our water quality as well as our native plants and animals.”

Paddle Antrim is dedicated to a quality experience for paddlers out on the water, providing more than just the logistics of the trail.  Whether it is information on where to stop for ice cream, how to remove invasive species from your boat, or what kind of gear should you have, all of those messages are important to have a positive experience. Paddle Antrim is working to install signs and develop the maps and tools paddlers need to have a safe and quality experience while out on the water. 

During the paddling season, Paddle Antrim offers community paddle events and classes to get people active, out on the water, and improving their skills.  They also host the annual Paddle Antrim Festival, a two-day non-competitive paddle through the water trail and local events in each of the communities.  For more information on Paddle Antrim and the Chain of Lakes Water Trail go to www.paddleantrim.com


Paddle Antrim Festival offers great way to experience Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes Water Trail

Registration is now open for the 2019 Paddle Antrim Festival, September 12th-14th. Now in its fifth year, the Paddle Antrim Festival is the best way to experience the Chain of Lakes Water Trail and the quaint lakeside communities that surround it.  This fun, non-competitive event provides opportunities for all levels of paddlers to participate one or two days with many distance options available. In addition to two great days of paddling, there are three days of live music, great food and drinks for paddlers and the entire community. 

This event highlights the wide-range of paddling opportunities that Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes provides. The first day begins with a series of small calm lakes which is a must-see, perfect for all paddlers. The second day you can explore up to five lakes and two rivers including the tranquil Grass River Natural Area and the crystal blue waters of larger lakes such as Torch Lake. Paddlers will enjoy the charming communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, Alden, and Elk Rapids as they make their way down the waterway. To make the weekend stress-free, meals and shuttle service can be added.

“We are excited to invite all levels of paddlers to grab their canoe, kayak or paddle board and experience the diversity of paddling available on our pristine waters”, says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director. “Over 150 paddlers come from all over the state and the country to experience the diversity of the pristine Chain of Lakes Water Trail and the wonderful hospitality each community has to offer.”

Beyond great paddling, the weekend kicks off Thursday night with live music and food available for the entire community. The Festival ends with a bang at the Final Bash Saturday night in Elk Rapids hosted by the Festival’s top sponsor, Short’s Brewing Company. This all-ages party is for paddlers and the entire community to come out and enjoy live music and great food and drinks. Short’s Brewing Company and sponsor Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, will be there serving up the most amazing food and finest brews for all to enjoy.

The Paddle Antrim Festival not only encourages folks to get out and enjoy the lakes and rivers but supports Paddle Antrim’s mission to protect the waterway by focusing on stewardship, education, and increasing access through development of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail.

For additional information on Paddle Antrim, the Chain of Lakes Water Trail or Paddle Antrim Festival, go online http://www.paddleantrim.com or contact Paddle Antrim at info@paddleantrim.com or 231-492-0171. 

Paddle Antrim receives funding for the Chain of Lakes Water Trail to promote regional tourism

Paddle Antrim is pleased to announce the Chain of Lakes Water Trail received a grant for $70,500 from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development toward development of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail. This grant includes funding for installation of signage, development of a paddler’s guide, and marketing for the water trail to improve the experience for paddlers while out on the water.

“This water trail is truly a regional effort that will have a significant positive impact on our local economy” says Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim executive director. “It brings together four counties and many small communities to promote the area together as one regional voice.”

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail is an extensive trail system, providing over 80 miles of routes through 14 pristine lakes and rivers in Antrim, Charlevoix, Kalkaska, and Grand Traverse counties. From the small upper lakes to Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake, there is an incredible diversity of routes, making it a destination for all levels of paddlers. Paddler experiences include encounters with wildlife, natural areas best explored on paddle crafts, sunken ships, island exploration, and great fishing opportunities. The four quaint lakeside villages provide great destinations for paddlers with the amenities they are looking for.

“This is a significant project for our region as trails bring dollars into places they serve,” says Caroline Kennedy, assistant village manager/clerk for the Village of Elk Rapids. “Trails like this attract visitors from near and far – who contribute to job growth in tourism-related opportunities such as our local restaurants, stores and lodging.”

Water trails are an important part of trails in the State of Michigan and the Chain of Lakes Water Trail is one of eight water trails recently designated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance’s executive director Bob Wilson supports the investment in trails by the State of Michigan.

“Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance congratulates Paddle Antrim on this significant grant to help support their efforts to continue to be a leader in water trails in Michigan, “says Bob Wilson. “This is just another important sign of the growing awareness of the benefits water trails can provide to all Michiganders.”

For more information on the Chain of Lakes Water Trail or paddling events/classes on the water trail, contact Paddle Antrim at 231-492-0171 or www.paddleantrim.com

The original MDARD Press release can be found at https://www.michigan.gov/som/0,4669,7-192-47796-490701–,00.html

Chain of Lakes Water Trail first designated water trail in Northern Michigan

Paddle Antrim is pleased to announce the Chain of Lakes Water Trail is the first designated water trail in Northern Michigan. The State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources recently designated eight water trails as part of its newly developed statewide water trail program. Water trails, a designated route along a river or lake designed for non-motorized watercraft like kayaks and canoes, positively impact the local economy, encourage healthy lifestyles, provide a sense of community and place, and encourage preservation of waterways.

“Water trails are a wonderful way to connect local residents and visitors to the amazing waters of Northern Michigan,” said Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim Executive Director. “This water trail will not only have a significant positive impact on our local economy but will get people out and active on the water. We believe when people are engaged on the water, they will work to protect our water quality as well as our native plants and animals.”

The Chain of Lakes Water Trail, led by Paddle Antrim, is an extensive trail with over 80 miles of routes through 14 pristine lakes and rivers. This water trail is a regional effort, with 81 access sites owned/managed by 17 governmental jurisdictions and non-profit organizations that stretches through four counties in Northwest Michigan (Antrim, Charlevoix, Kalkaska, and Grand Traverse).

From the small upper lakes to Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake, there is an incredible diversity of paddling opportunities, making it a destination for all paddlers. Paddler experiences include wildlife viewing, natural areas best explored paddle craft, sunken ships, island exploration, and great fishing opportunities. The communities of Ellsworth, Central Lake, Bellaire, Alden and Elk Rapids are located along the trail and make great destinations for launching, exiting, or just taking a break.

Paddle Antrim is dedicated to a quality experience for paddlers out on the water, providing more than just the logistics of the trail.  Whether it is information on where to stop for ice cream, how to remove invasive species from your boat, or what kind of gear should you have, all of those messages are important to have a positive experience. Paddle Antrim continues to work to improve the trail and was recently awarded a grant from Rotary Charities of Traverse City to continue this work.

During the paddling season, Paddle Antrim offers community paddle events and classes to get people active, out on the water, and improving their skills.  They also host the annual Paddle Antrim Festival, a two-day non-competitive paddle through the water trail and local events in each of the communities.  For more information on Paddle Antrim and the Chain of Lakes Water Trail go to www.paddleantrim.com

The original Michigan DNR Press Release (12/20/18) can be found at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDNR/bulletins/223bbe4?fbclid=IwAR0I0NN0LT6M0lZxRyIGNv33JxbHjiR4vpPcr4fyu5vJxXaiu3Q-yAhqOf4

Ripple Effect Grant Applications Due October 19th

Paddle Antrim is accepting applications for their bi-annual Ripple Effect Mini Grant Program. This competitive grant program funds projects that protect the waterways and connect people to them. Potential projects must focus on stewardship, education, or increasing accessibility to the lakes and rivers.

Since 2015, Paddle Antrim has awarded over $19,000 from income earned through their events.  Projects must be focused on the Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed or adjacent watersheds which impact Antrim County. Eligible applicants include Michigan-based non-profit organizations or governmental entities.

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday October 19, 2018 to be considered. More information can be found online at www.paddleantrim.com/ripple-effect.