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Types of Risks You Might Encounter

Remember that there are inherent risks in the sport of paddling, including injury, death, and even contracting serious illness from waterborne pathogens, that you assume when you engage in this rapidly growing pastime. Conditions that may be encountered include, but are not limited to: busy road traffic at some access sites; steep and/or slippery banks at access points and portages; absence of defined and/or maintained paths to river edge; rocks and/or concrete rip-rap, especially near bridges and access sites; exposed logs, fallen trees, and other obstacles that may require maneuvering or carrying around, over, or under; deep holes and undercut banks greater than 6 feet in depth; high water levels; fast currents; and fallen trees that completely block the river necessitating a portage.


ALWAYS wear an approved flotation device. You can drown in even shallow water if you slip on a log and hit your head. In addition, the current on the river can be deceptively strong and pull you under fallen trees. 


Check Water Levels, Flow and Weather

The recommendations as to Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced skill levels are advisory only and are simply an estimate of paddling skills required for canoes and kayaks at normal weather and water levels. You are the only judge of whether conditions on any particular day are appropriate for your skill level.


Please be sure to check the weather forecast and up-to-date river flow conditions on the USGS webpage.  Also check out the weather and safety information  on our partner's website.  


Respect Private Property 

Almost all of the land along the river is privately owned, so please be respectful of private property rights. Although you can paddle the river, the only time you can legally walk on the bank is to go around an obstacle in the river blocking passage of your boat.

Do Not Trash the River! Do Your Part!!

Most important, please help us keep our rivers beautiful and the forested floodplain ecosystem thriving. Pack out ALL your trash and consider taking along a trash bag and picking up any trash you encounter along the river.

Thanks and enjoy the rivers!

This page last updated on 5/15/2018.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
Phone: 269.925.1137  Fax: 269.925.0288  

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