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Paddle the Headwaters of the Clinton River

Waterford Township, Michigan


Added by Travis Smith

Paddle some of the most crystal-clear water you will find in Southeast Michigan in a remote, serene setting.

The total trip is approximately 2 miles, or 50-90 minutes. Your leisurely trip begins at the Waterford Clinton River Canoe Launch. While some paddlers go downstream and then back upstream to the start, I recommend staging a car or a bike where you end. The end point for this trip is the business parking lot that is found on the west side of the intersection of Cooley Lake Rd and Cass Elizabeth Rd.

The launch site here is beautiful with relatively flat grassy banks and a covered bridge. Since this stretch of river is part of a local livery’s routes, it is always well maintained. I have not encountered any portages or hazards, but, of course, they are still possible – especially early in the spring season or after a big storm. It is useful to check the USGS Clinton River gauges before your trip. While this stretch is not very shallow, I would still probably avoid it if river water levels are in the bottom 10% or 20% historically.

As you float, you will encounter sandy river bottoms and tall river grass. With only a few houses on this stretch, you should also see plenty of wildlife. If you’d like to lengthen this trip, one can float all the way into Cass Lake and then across the lake to Dodge Park #4. This adds about an hour to your trip. 


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Stand Up Paddle
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

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