Paddle Antrim wants you to have the best paddling experience on the Chain of Lakes Water Trail. Below you will find information about potential experiences. These trail experiences can be used individually or combined to create the perfect paddle experience for you and your group. While experiences are given as if travelling downstream, paddlers can travel in either direction. Mileage is based on following close to shore, so can vary depending on path paddled. Times can vary significantly based on paddler ability, path taken, and conditions. Estimated times are based on the following speeds: Beginner segments=2.0 miles per hour (mph), Intermediate segments=2.5 mph, and Advanced segments=3.0 mph
Routes are categorized by skill level. This recommended skill level is based on the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Water Trail Handbook (2018).
Beginner – Routes with minimum hazards suitable for new paddlers with new to basic skills. These routes are in small inland lakes with little or no current, no portages required, and normally limited waves. Access sites are typically every 3-4 miles.
Intermediate – Routes suitable for paddlers with some boat control skills, self-recovery skills and stamina. Paddlers should have the expectation of moderate waves when windy. Portages may be required. Access sites are typically every 3-8 miles.
Advanced – Routes suitable with paddlers whose skills include advance paddling, self-rescue, risk management, navigation, and stamina. Routes may include open water crossings and areas where landing is dangerous due to shoreline conditions. There is potential for high waves from wind and encountering motorized boat traffic. Portages may be required. Access sites may be up to twelve miles apart, with only emergency access sites and rest stops available within those twelve miles.
Travel through the narrow waters of Six Mile Lake and St. Clair Lake, with over a mile of protected shoreline to the Village of Ellsworth. During high water, a portage is required at the culvert between St. Clair Lake and Ellsworth Lake.
Travel through the narrow lakes of Benway and Hanley Lakes, ending in the Village of Central Lake.
Travel through Clam Lake and along the southeast shore of Torch Lake, near the sandbar. Multiple access sites with amenities along the route. Consider using Cedar St or Birch St instead of Torch River Bridge DNR Access on peak weekends.
Travel through Torch River, the stumps of Lake Skegemog and up the eastern shore of Elk Lake. Consider using Cedar St, Birch St or Torch River DNR Access instead of Torch River Bridge DNR Access on peak weekends.
Paddle the eastern shore of Torch Lake, Michigan’s second largest inland lake. Access and amenities are very limited. From north to south, access is available at the following access sites, mileage provided: Forest Home Family Park (6.4), Pinnell Rd (11.7), Old Torch Lake Rd (13), Valleau Landing/Alden (17.9), Alden Ball Park (19.2), Birch St (20.2), and Cedar St (20.8).
Paddle along the protected eastern shoreline of the Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area. Beware: the shore line is swampy making it not easily accessible and the route includes a .2-mile lake crossing. Alternate access is available at the Torch River DNR Access, which increases the route 1.5 miles in each direction.
Travel the eastern and southern shores of Elk Lake. Paddle past the protected shoreline of Battle Creek Natural Area at the southern end of Elk Lake. There is a .2 mile crossing at the Elk/Skegemog Narrows.