Know Before You Go: 4 Tips for a Safe Paddle Trip

The Huron River National Water Trail winds through natural areas, traverses historic cities, and ends at Pointe Mouillee on Lake Erie. Paddlers of all skill levels can find a place to refresh themselves along its length, but remember to prepare before you go and be smart as you enjoy your trip.2018 Huron River Day, Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, by Karissa Brumley

Get to know the river before you go
Plan your trip in advance, tell others about your plan, and stick to the plan. For longer trips, plan for restroom breaks and stay within your group’s fitness limits. A safe estimate of travel speed on the Huron is walking speed—about 2-4 miles per hour. Scout the river as best you can before you go and consider paddling with someone more experienced. Be especially careful around dams and obstacles that can trap you against the current.

Know the conditions
Conditions on the Huron River can change rapidly. Pay attention to all safety warnings and check the weather before you go. River and weather conditions are available HERE, and it’s best to call the OUTFITTERS on the stretch of river you’ll be paddling. During fair weather weekends, stay visible and be prepared for high boat traffic on impounded lakes.

Bring the proper gear
Always wear a lifejacket. The Huron River is shallow in sections but people have been carried away by less than a foot of moving water or caught up in trees and vegetation. Just as when hiking into the wilderness, pack plenty of water, food, a flashlight, and a whistle. A sponge, bilge pump, or bailor can help you keep excessive water out of your boat. A paddle tether can keep you from drifting uncontrollably if you accidentally drop your paddle. Always carry a map. A waterproof Paddler’s Companion will give you detailed section maps of the entire water trail. You can purchase one HERE.

Be smart and courteous
Keep your craft under control. Give paddlers traveling upstream the right of way, and always ask other groups of paddlers before passing them on the river. Remember that anglers need plenty of space and that sound carries over water. Respect landowners along the river. Don’t trespass and use only designated restrooms.

For more information about staying safe on the Huron River National Water Trail, go to SAFETY & ETIQUETTE.