The Top Places to Kayak in Ann Arbor

Canoes and Kayaks

Ann Arbor, a bustling university town west of Detroit, Michigan, is well-known as a great place to live and work. But some people don’t know it’s also a great place for kayakers. With numerous rivers and lakes in the area, there are plenty of places to paddle. Here are some of the best places to kayak in Ann Arbor.

kayak in Ann Arbor

Argo Park

Right in the heart of Ann Arbor, you can paddle the spectacular Huron River in many locations, none better than the still waters of Argo Pond. This area is trendy in the warmer months for kayakers, canoers, paddleboarders, rafters, and even tubers. There are several spots to launch from around Argo Pond with ample parking if you have your own kayak. These include Argo Park, Bandemer Park, and Huron Bridge Park.

However, if you don’t have your own craft, you can hire from the Argo Park Kayak and Canoe Livery just north of the Argo Dam at the southern end of Longshore Drive. From here, you have the option of still water paddling around the Argo Pond (being mindful to steer clear of the dam) or opt for a 1.5-hour river trip downstream to Gallup Park. This 3.7-mile section of the Huron River includes the dam bypass through the nine man-made rapid chutes of Argo Cascades. The cascades require a moderate degree of skill. After the cascades section, most of the river is slow flowing through scenic park areas down to Gallup Park.

Kayak Rental Argo Park

Single kayak trips cost $24, ($17 if you stay on the pond), which includes a van ride back to Argo Park from Gallup Park. Tandem Kayaks are $30 ($22 for still water). Canoes and rafts are also available for the river trip but are subject to water levels. You can rent a stand-up paddleboard for the Argo Pond for $23 for 2 hours; however, they must remain in the still water.

Tubing Argo Cascades

If you’re looking for some reprieve from the hot summer sun, why not cool off with a Tube Rental from Argo Park? For $10 you can hire a tube and ride the Argo Cascades for 2 hours. Then, after completing the cascade rapids, you can walk back along the path and repeat. You should be able to ride the cascades 2 to 3 times in the allotted time.
Remember that you will need shoes (not flip-flops) to participate in the tubing.

Gallup Park

Gallup Park is a kayaker’s paradise. The area of the Huron River around Gallup Park has minimal current, which makes kayaking and canoeing a breeze for beginners. Gallup Park is also the start location for the 5.7-mile Barton to Gallup Park river trips, where you are transported by van upstream and get to paddle with the current back to Gallup Park.

The Gallup Park Kayak and Canoe is on the north shore of the Huron River, just off Gallup Park Road. Turn left into Fuller Road if heading north on the Huron Parkway. From here, kayakers can launch kayaks and head out onto the lake-like water paddling the scenic 3.7-mile round trip to Dixboro Dam and back or maybe the 1.65 mile outside loop.

The Park also has a paved trail that runs alongside the river, making it easy for kayakers to explore the area at their own pace. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Gallup Park is the perfect place to enjoy a day on the water.

kayak in Ann Arbor Gallup Park map
Image Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor

Dexter Area

If you’re looking for a fun-filled kayaking adventure in the Ann Arbor area, look no further than Dexter. The Dexter area offers several paddling options, so there’s sure to be a perfect kayaking route for everyone. Skip’s Huron River Canoe and Outfitters is based near the entrance to Delhi Metropark and offers full-service canoe, kayak, and tubing trips between the Dexter-Huron Metropark to the west and Delhi Metropark. There’s also a more extended trip down the river beginning at Hudson Mills Metropark.

The Dexter Huron to Dehli Metrppark paddle trip is ideal for first-timers and an excellent option for families and couples, starting at $26 for a 1-2 hour tour in a single kayak and $33 for a tandem kayak or canoe.

For those looking for a more relaxing experience, try opting for a tube instead of a kayak. So close your eyes, relax and slowly drift your troubles away downstream to Delhi Metropark. This unique experience will set you back $20-$24, depending on your choice of the tube.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and family and head to Skips for an unforgettable kayaking experience.

Where can I launch my own kayak on the Huron River?

For those who want to bring their own kayaks, many spots along the Huron River around Ann Arbor and Dexter are suitable for launching. These include:

Gallup Park: There are several good launching spots along Gallup Park Road with ample car parking for kayaking on Gallup Pond.

Kayak Ann Arbor Gallup Park Launching Spots

Argo Park: This is kayak central for Ann Arbor. A great spot to launch a hire kayak from, but it gets jam-packed over summer, so parking could be an issue. 

Ann Arbor Rowing Club: Good kayak launching from a dock. Parking could be an issue when the rowing club is in full swing.

Bandemer Park (Next to the Bandemer Park Disc Golf Course): This location has good parking, about 100 yards from the water. Enter from the north side of the river through Huron Bridge Park off Barton Drive.

Huron Bridge Park: Limited car parking but only 100-200 feet from the water: 

Barton Nature Area: The Barton Nature Area Boat Launch is a good option for launching kayaks and canoes. However, the car park here is a bit further than most from the water at around 130 yards.

Dexter-Huron Metropark: This is probably one of the best launching sites in the area, with ample parking within close proximity to several beach areas.

Dehli Metropark: Just to the west of Skips Kayak & Canoe Livery, you can launch your boats a stone’s throw away from the car park at the western end of Delhi Ct. There is limited parking on the water’s edge but a much larger car park east of Water Street. Parking around this area requires a permit, costing $7 per day.

Hudson Mills Metropark: Some of the most beautiful spots on the Huron River are at Hudson Mills Metropark. A popular place for anglers, hikers, and paddlers alike to take in all that this natural environment has to offer. This is the start location for the Hudson Mills to Dehli Metropark trips. From here, it takes 3-4 hours of paddling to reach Dehli Metropark.

Dexter Area Kayaking Launching Locations

What to Wear/What to Bring to Kayak in Ann Arbor

  • Dress appropriately for the weather expecting to get wet. Bathers and quick-drying clothes are ideal.
  • Wear shoes that will protect your feet, not flip flops
  • Bring a dry bag to keep valuables in; otherwise, leave them in your vehicle.
  • No alcohol or glass bottles are permitted.
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat.

What are the lifejacket laws in Michigan?

Michigan Law requires kayakers to carry an approved PFD (Life Jacket) for all vessel occupants. In addition, all children under 6 must wear a life jacket on board any vessel underway.

All persons renting kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and tubes in Ann Arbor must wear a PFD as part of the terms of service.

Summing Up

If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in Ann Arbor, the Huron River is the spot for you. Whether a beginner or an experienced kayaker, the Huron River offers something to everyone who loves being on the water. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy some of the best kayaking that Michigan has to offer!

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About The Author 

Hi, my name is Andy and I am the creator and owner of Canoe-Kayaks.com. I’ve been into water sports for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than spending a day on the water with my family. This website is a way for me to share my passion with everyone, through providing some helpful guides and tips for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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