Highlights: Melding the rural with the urban, this route travels through nature preserves thick with trees and past rolling meadows, but it also provides glimpses of railroad tracks and ends at busy Beitner Road. Along the way, kayakers paddle beneath many private and public bridges, while floating past cozy cottages and grand homes. The biking portion offers an easy road option or a more rugged pedal along the Boardman River Trail, and there are several opportunities to shorten or extend the outing, biking the North Country Trail or paddling the Keystone and Sabin rapids. As with many Michigan paddles, it’s best to avoid kayaking on summer weekends/holidays.
Distance: Bike: Roads: about 7 miles. Boardman River Trail: About 11 miles. Paddle: About 11 miles.
Difficulty: Biking: The road route is easy, but the Boardman River Trail is moderate to difficult. Fat-tire bikes are recommended (see route finding below). Kayaking: Mostly easy with a steady current and a few light rapids. The only challenge might be the distance.
Location: Leave your boats at the Brown Bridge Canoe Launch, just off Brown Bridge Road, about 12 mile southeast of Traverse City. Continue west on Brown Bridge Road as it turns into River Road and follow the round-about onto Beitner Road. Beitner Park Landing, the takeout, will be in a short distance on the left. Leave your vehicle here and begin the bike ride.
Route finding: Biking: Option 1: Bike back the way you drove. Option 2: Turn left out of the parking area and follow the signs for the Boardman River Trail (BRT). Fat-tire bikes are recommended as the trail can be rugged and follows a sandy ORV/Snowmobile trail for a few miles. Signage at times is sporadic and it’s easy to lose the trail. FOR BOTH OPTIONS: USE CAUTION ON BUSY BEITNER ROAD. Kayaking: This is a mostly easy and extremely pleasant, quintessential Michigan paddle with no route-finding challenges. By taking out at Shumsky Landing, the trip can be shortened by 4.4 miles or extend it another 3.5 miles by putting in upstream at Scheck’s Campground. This takes paddlers through an open area that was once home to the Brown Bridge Dam Pond before the dam was removed in 2012. Take a look at the other two Boardman biyaking trips on this site (here and here) for other route options.
Maps and websites: Find the PDF map here. Click here for Boardman River access sites and directions and here for information about the Boardman River Trail.