Safety  Best Practices

Paddling Skill Level…

Beginner/Novice: Little or no paddling experience. Have not learned, or have the comfort level, to handle the required paddling basics.  Note: we recommend taking a paddling course.
Intermediate: moderate paddler experience.  Familiar with fundamental strokes, comfortable with a wet exit, and can perform a basic rescue and re-entry.
Advanced: experienced paddler with solid skills, can handle rough conditions, and water related emergencies.

Safety rules…

-Always get an updated marine weather report.
-Always have proper paddling safety gear.  Follow manufacture’s boat and equipment recommendations and/or  warnings.
-Pay attention to boat wakes, reverse currents, and type of boating traffic.
-Leave a float plan

 Note: local summer water temps range between 50-60 degrees and will cause exhaustion and/or unconsciousness in 1  to 2 hrs.

Paddling Conditions …

Beginner: Coastal paddling in a protected bay, inlet, small lake, gentle river.  Conditions should be less than one foot wave height, less than 10 mph winds, stay close to shore. Never paddle alone.
Intermediate: Open water environments with plenty of options to get to safe coastal protected areas.  Conditions should not exceed two foot waves, 15 mph winds, or a reasonable distance from shore.
Advanced: Open water environments with safe coastal landing options.  Conditions should not exceed the boat/equipment recommendations for wind, waves, water temperature, etc.

Safety and Rescue Courses…

For open and closed boaters who are just learning to paddle we recommend to learn how to rescue yourself and others, how to identify and avoid river hazards, safely swim through rapids, outfit your boat for whitewater, dress to avoid hypothermia, learn what you can do to assist your rescuer and do simple boat recovery. This type of course is strongly recommended for all paddlers and satisfies the safety requirement for a Class 2 rating. Check online locations for basic training classes in your area or area you plan to paddle in.




Financial assistance for this project was provided, in part, by the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Environmental Quality, under the National Coastal Zone Management Program, through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Please Note:
By using this website you certify that you understand, accept and agree to the "Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails Safety Statement."