The rivers present different challenges for kayakers and canoeists in Midland County

Looking down the Midland Tridge that straddles the Chippewa and Tittabawassee rivers from the Farmer’s Market, Glenn Isenhart, owner of Mobile Kayak Rentals from Ike of Midland, recently voiced a thought that was on the tip of many tongues in mid-Michigan in July.
Glenn Isenhart is the owner of Ike’s Mobile Kayak Rentals.

“That’s the lowest I’ve seen in 13 years since I got back from California,” he said as he adjusted the kayaks from his trailer. He loaded them up when the kayakers had already returned from their trip on a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 70s. A perfect day for kayaking, make it an afternoon today.

In the morning, the weather was overcast and it was raining, replenishing the dry ground. Later in the day, when Isenhart provided canoes and assistance for the LEAP program at Lake Kiwassee in Stratford Woods Park on the east side of Midland, he noted that the showers that night “were not in the picture. ‘itinerary”. The participants continued to row, and so did Isenhart. “It fills my heart,” he says.

At the Tittabawassee River it was a mottled midsummer pattern – light brown where the sun’s rays hit the bottom and reflected the color of the mud upwards, a bit darker where it was deeper when they couldn’t reach the bottom, and a dark brown where the shadows hung over the banks. The nearby US Coast Guard’s depth reading averaged 9 ½ feet, a bit lower than normal due to the lack of recent rain.

Midland’s Tridge is a landmark to reach after an afternoon on the rivers.
Isenhart smiles during the conversation, an optimistic smile, because most of his rentals aren’t for people who crave the adrenaline rush that whitewater brings in many mountain rivers.

Ike’s and other companies that help provide individual and group forays on central Michigan’s rivers that flow in tandem with the seasons, rely on families and business groups to survive, beginners and those less experienced , those who want to be with friends for a good afternoon or more. Stacie Scherman is the owner of Nor’ East Outdoors.

Northeast outside owner Stacie Scherman of Midland agrees. Now in its second year here, and third overall after buying Indian River Brasswind Landing Adventure and Paddlesports, two hours north, said there was a lot of interest here.

In the summer, she said, many of Midland’s customers are “first-time paddlers or young people learning” through family, friends and colleagues.
Later in the fall, those will be looking for a river’s ability to provide a calmer, colorful visit.

Jenn Kirts, director of programs for the Chippewa Nature Centersaid the colors appear brighter along the banks of the rivers and the slower flowing waters contribute to a beautiful fall experience.
Jenn Kirts is the Programs Director of the Chippewa Nature Center.
And the infrastructure here, especially lately, allows those of any ability to try out the experience, Ike’s and Nor’east Outdoors use those facilities. The town of Midland offers a websitewhich gives addresses and information on accessible launches, at the Tridge, Nature Center and Sanford Lake.

Upon completion of the structures ten years ago, the city posted this entry: “Three recently completed kayak/canoe launches, located at Tridge in downtown Midland, Chippewa Nature Center and Sanford Lake Park, will enable universal access to our local waterways. .All three launches will be open from May 1 to October 15 each year (weather permitting), with site-specific opening hours.
Wheelchair users can access the kayaks through accessible launches.
Wheelchair users, those limited by hip and knee replacements, back injuries, limited carrying capacity, balance issues, difficulty getting in and out of a boat, and even those who would simply appreciate an easier and smoother access point, rather than trying to enter from a steep incline.

Rental companies can access the rivers through the sites mentioned and at the boat ramps along the Tittabawassee at Riverside/Golfside Park, or at the Caldwell boat ramp on South Saginaw Road.

Other private launches exist throughout the county, Scherman said, but some are limited to those who can access them. The former Homer Township Fire Department property has a nice parking lot, but the walk down to the river is tricky. Kirts said the CNC site is accessible and updated.

Kayakers and canoeists need to be flexible with the seasons, Kirts said, clothes that wick away wick quickly, an extra set in the dry compartment and a light jacket might then be what’s needed.

Isenhart says the region’s rivers are great all season for learning, and there are plenty of websites for information, including the best color information. Kirts said the CNC has programs that use their own canoes, and Ike’s Mobile and Nor’east Outdoors use the Chippewa-based launch.

The companies and the CNC offer training for beginners in canoeing and other paddle sports. Additionally, Ike’s and Nor’east will pick up kayakers at the end of the trip and return them to the drop-off location.