Intermediate River Route: Richardi Park out and back along Intermediate River

Route Overview:

  • Beginner level
  • 3 miles
  • 1.5 hours estimated time

By Ellie Kirkpatrick, Marketing and Outreach Specialist 

Deana and I recently went out for an evening kayak on an easy but delightful paddle through the Intermediate River out to Intermediate Lake and back. This 3-mile paddle takes about 1.5 hours and is an easy trip to do with a group or family. I intend to take my husband and kids out next summer when my kids are a little bit older.

This paddle starts in Richardi Park which is a lovely park with lots of amenities. Restrooms, potable water, a covered pavilion with picnic tables, a swimming area, and a really cool play structure that my kiddos LOVE. It’s also walking distance from downtown Bellaire and has a walking/biking trail and pedestrian bridge over the river. Bellaire has a lot to offer in terms of food and beverage and retail. It’s one of the cutest and more lively towns in the Chain of Lakes region. The town also has a great paddle sport rental shop less than a mile away called Paddles and Pedals. The owner, Patrick, is fantastic and will make sure you are hooked up with the right gear. 

Another perk to this location is its proximity to Glacial Hill Trails which has some of the best mountain biking in Northern Michigan which can also be used for hiking. So if you paddle and pedal you can experience both within just a few miles of each other. Just another reason we love the Bellaire area.

Back to our paddle – we launched our kayak from the sandy swimming beach area in the park. The sign is located where the Village of Bellaire is planning  an accessible kayak launch, so in the future that will be a great option. After launching you go under the cute pedestrian bridge and then make your way through the narrow river. Stay left to stay in the channel. When the water is low you do have to be careful about getting stuck in the sand/muck as it gets pretty shallow. The water doesn’t have much of a current, so it is easy to paddle up and even easier to paddle back allowing you the ability to get lost in the beauty of the area and do some wildlife spotting.

The paddle up the river was very peaceful and we didn’t see any other boaters or kayakers on the water. We were there on a weekday evening, so it was a very quiet time on the water. Most of the shoreline to the east of the river is owned by the Antrim County Airport. They have left a greenbelt between the airport and the river,  so the shoreline is a very natural area.

Once we got to Intermediate Lake, we paddle out just a little bit to get a better view of the island, just further north in the middle of the lake. We then  paddled back, ensuring we got back before dark and the 10 pm park closing. 

This is a great route to take and an easy one for beginners, families or someone just looking for a relaxing time on the water without shuttling. But don’t take my word for it. Get out there and try it yourself! You can also visit our Water Trail Experience page to check out some other recommended routes. Enjoy!