Do you ever carry something around the store only to put it back right before you leave? I am notorious for being an indecisive shopper. However, I am proud to say one of the best decisions my partner, Dan, and I ever made last year was purchasing a couple of inexpensive kayaks.
This area we call home is packed with hiking, biking and river adventures. Our inaugural kayak voyage had us floating down the Shiawassee River in downtown Fenton all the way to Lake Ponemah. It was peaceful and serene. We found ourselves winding through desolate areas and friendly neighborhoods, and I even snapped some photos of what remained of an old bridge still over the river.
The Shiawassee River from downtown Fenton was perfect for our first trip, but it still presented a bit of a challenge. It wasn’t due to fast-moving rapids or sharp turns. This section of river was very shallow in parts, so much so that your abs might ache the next day from the constant shimmying inside your kayak to get it moving after bottoming out. I would suggest always having a nice pair of water shoes on board.
If you want to get your vessel in the water but you don’t know where to start, Genesee County has a great group of folks who meet twice a week throughout the summer to explore our waterways. They are part of the Flint River Watershed Coalition. I met them last year by participating in the Flint River and Community Cleanup.
The coalition has made it their mission to change the perception of the Flint River, which is often blamed for the ongoing water crisis plaguing the city. However, it was a lack of corrosion control to treat the Flint River water that led to the tragedy.
Several species of animals, from bald eagles to several kinds of turtles, call the Flint River home. The river spans several counties and is picturesque in many spots. The coalition offers guided tours or a day of paddling with your friends, but with the security of being in a larger group. You can find an interactive map and schedule on the coalition’s website at flintriver.org.
We put a lot of mileage on our kayaks last summer. We kayaked the Platte River in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We “shot the tube” (floated through a culvert under a bridge) in the beautiful waters of the Crystal River in Leelanau County. We made memories with a large group on the Manistee. Yet, our favorite moments were the spontaneous trips where we threw the kayaks in the back of the truck and never ventured farther than 10 miles.
Our favorite moments were the spontaneous trips where we threw the kayaks in the back of the truck and never ventured farther than 10 miles.
If kayaking isn’t your thing, you can always break out your bike when you get the itch to be one with nature. You can make a day of it for you and your four-legged friend in Davison Township. The Black Creek Nature Trail is one of my favorites. The paved trail winds along a small creek where I’ve seen a plethora of wildlife. Near the trail is a great dog park to allow a little socializing for your pup. If your dog is shy, like my pug, Mona, the dog park also has areas where your dog can stretch its legs by running around in its own fenced-in area.
This trail ends in a great park with picnic tables, tennis courts, playground equipment and the Lake Callis Recreation Complex. This place is great for any age. You can even rent your own kayaks and paddleboards, as well as do a little fishing.
I encourage you to take advantage of all the parks, rivers and trails in Genesee County, but remember to take your shoes off just as you would in anyone else’s home. Our parks are beautiful only because of the people who volunteer their time to allow you to enjoy them. Don’t be indecisive. Start planning your day trips now. You won’t regret it. I’ll see you on the river soon!