Highlights: The Boardman never fails to delight from clouds of dragonflies soaring overhead to fly fishermen wading near the shore to gentle riffles pulling you along. This short paddle is an easy introduction to an enchanting river, and combined with the North Country Trail’s ribbon of singletrack, makes for a very accessible adventure.
Distance: Bike: About 3.5 miles (Brown Bridge Road) or 8 miles (North Country Trail). Paddle: About 4.3 miles.
Difficulty: The kayaking is simply fun, no challenges, except possible deadfall or shallow water. The biking can be easy if you simply backtrack on Brown Bridge Road or more difficult on the singletrack North Country Trail.
Location: Leave kayaks at the Forks Forest Campground/Access Site on Brown Bridge Road, just off Supply Road, southeast of Traverse City. Continue on Brown Bridge Road for another 3.5 miles to Scheck’s Place State Forest Campground (do not be confused by Scheck’s Place Trail Camp, which comes up first). Turn left into the campground and continue back to the boat launch. Park here.
Route finding: Biking: From the parking area, cycle back to Brown Bridge Road, turn right, and retrace your tracks to Forks Forest Campground. For the North Country Trail return, look for the NCT signs almost immediately on your left as you turn onto Brown Bridge Road. Follow the blue blazes as the NCT rolls up and down hills on a narrow singletrack. Cross over Supply Road and continue for about another 3 miles. Turn right onto Broomhead Road and follow it back to Supply Road. Turn right onto Supply (use caution as this road can be very busy) for about a quarter-mile and turn left onto Brown Bridge Road and back to your kayaks. Kayaking: Nothing to worry about here; just make sure you’ll recognize the takeout at Scheck’s as it comes up quick. If you reach a bridge, then you’ve missed the takeout.
Websites and maps: Click here for a PDF map, and for more information about the Boardman, visit Grand Traverse Conservation District’s guide. Maps for the NCT can be found here (Northwest Lower Michigan, maps 115 and 116).
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