Beaver Island Water Trail Grows Paddling and Ecotourism Opportunities

The Takeaway: New destination for paddlers burnishes Michigan’s reputation as “The Trails State.”

A new water trail circling Beaver Island adds another jewel to the state’s 540-mile crown of water trails, which wind through more than a dozen counties. The Beaver Island trail builds upon the Michigan Coastal Management Program’s nearly $2 million investment in water trails since 2012. It also supports the fast-growing paddle sports industry, part of a Great Lakes tourism and recreation economy that in 2015 represented $1.7 Billion of Michigan’s gross domestic product.

This 42-mile water trail connects paddlers to Beaver Island’s hiking, biking, and birding pathways. A trail map identifies 18 safe landing points, and future plans include rustic campsites.

Water trails capitalize on a wave of national interest in paddle sports, as shown in a 2017 survey of more than 24,000 online interviewees by the Outdoor Industry Association. In that report, stand-up paddle boarding grew 18 percent over three years. Kayak fishing grew 10 percent over three years, and kayaking grew 8 percent in just one year.

Water trails form one part of Michigan’s 12,500-mile trail network that hosts bicyclists, hikers, cross-country skiers, horseback and snowmobile riders, and many others.

The water trail was made possible by a partnership among local communities and Livable Ideas for Sustainable Communities (LIAA), a nonprofit based in Traverse City. It was supported by Michigan’s Coastal Management Program and Department of Natural Resources. (2019)

More Information: Michigan Water Trails

Partners: LIAA, Michigan’s Coastal Management Program and Department of Natural Resources