The Clinton River
The Clinton River is one of the nation’s best urban paddling rivers.
The middle river, from downtown Utica to Rotary Park in Sterling Heights, is a wonderful stretch that is easily accessible and provides great opportunities to have a moderate paddle for the beginner to advanced (conditions vary).
The lower river, particularly from Budd Park in Clinton Township to Mount Clemens, is the best stretch for beginners. A section from Utica to Sterling Heights is being improved for access and will become a key area for beginner and intermediate paddlers.
Anyone wanting to paddle the Clinton River should understand that sections can be challenging and the water can run very fast and high, especially after a rain event. You should always check the streamflow gage nearest to the area you are paddling to assess if the river is running high.
Clinton River Launch Sites
Dequindre Road and 23 Mile Road, Shelby Township
Riverbends Park – Landing
5700 22 Mile Road at Ryan Road, Shelby Township
Downtown Utica – at Auburn Road
7530 Auburn Rd, Utica
Heritage Park (ADA accessible)
44505 Van Dyke, Utica
North Clinton River Park (ADA accessible)
8600 Riverland Drive, Sterling Heights
19000 Clinton River Road, Clinton Township
Rotary Park (ADA accessible)
37328 Utica Rd, Sterling Heights
Shadyside Park – Mount Clemens
155 Shadyside, Mount Clemens
Downtown Mount Clemens/MacArthur Park (ADA accessible)
96 North River Road, Mount Clemens
Harley Ensign Memorial Park
32995 S River Road, Harrison Township
Individuals interested in kayaking or canoeing will love Macomb County’s 32 mile stretch of the Clinton River water trail. With clean, clear and cool water, it is an ideal location for outdoor activities. And with several local outfitters to choose from, getting out on this waterway is an easy, affordable and fun thing to do. All participants are at their own risk.
But as we all know, changing conditions can turn an enjoyable activity into something dangerous. So before you head out, please consider the following water safety guidelines:
- ALWAYS PADDLE WITH THE PROPER EQUIPMENT. Always wear a life jacket. Other safety equipment should be considered as well, including a helmet, footwear, a spare change of clothes, a whistle and a cell phone packed in a water-proof case. It is also important to bring clean drinking water that will help you stay hydrated.
- NEVER PADDLE ALONE. Always paddle with at least one other person and do not become separated.
- BE AWARE OF THE STREAM FLOW. Check the stream flow at the USGS gauge nearest your intended trip (ww.crwc.org/paddling). Visually check stream flow before you embark— if the river is too fast for your comfort level, wait until it recedes.
- BE AWARE OF THE WATER TEMPERATURE. Cold water is extremely dangerous. Learn about protecting yourself from hypothermia.
- BE AWARE OF THE WEATHER. Conditions can change rapidly. Be aware of forecasts and do not go out during thunderstorms or other adverse weather events. Stay alert to changing weather conditions.
- BE AWARE OF THE DAYLIGHT. Make sure you leave enough daylight to comfortably finish your trip.
- BRING A SPARE CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN A DRY BAG. It is very likely you will get wet. Bring a spare change of clothes in a dry bag to avoid hypothermia.
- WEAR RIVER FOOTWEAR. Protect your feet from sharp river rocks—always wear footwear that is secured to your feet. Flip flops are not recommended.
- KNOW HOW TO SWIM. Make sure you know how to swim before embarking on a river trip.
- KNOW HOW TO GET HELP. To get help, dial 911. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and can communicate your position (take note of safety signage) to emergency responders.
- NEVER CLIMB ON A LOG JAM. Log jams may be encountered when paddling due to the flashy nature of our river and the numerous amount of dead trees in the system. These jams can be unstable and can pose a risk with deeper waters below and dangerous currents.
For more information about paddling the Clinton River Water Trail and to check current stream conditions and weather, visit: http://www.crwc.org/paddling/.