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

The original Michigan DNR Press Release (12/20/18) can be found at

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