Trail Rules

While paddling the Jordan River on a bright summer afternoon, I heard an unexpected sound. Drowning out the birdsong and gently rippling water, Janet Jackson sang, “What have you done for me lately?”

Although the song had been a hit for Ms. Jackson in 1986, it wasn’t adding anything to a day of kayaking in 2022. I soon caught up with the Jackson fans—about 5 kayakers floating along and playing their favorite tunes, loud enough to scare away any nearby wildlife. I shortly left them behind, but it was a reminder that thoughtfulness while paddling and pedaling is extremely important.

It is the underlying theme behind the following biking and kayaking guidelines, recommendations that will help make your outdoor experience a success.

1. Be prepared. Know the equipment you are using, as well as your overall fitness and kayaking/biking aptitude. Keep your kayak and bike in good working order to avoid breakdowns or other problems. Bring safety and other supplies with you on all your trips. For biking and kayaking, this includes, at a minimum: life vest, water, food, extra paddle, dry bag(s) with change of clothes, helmet, hand pump, extra tube, tire irons, patch kit, maps, and cell phone. Also, it’s wise to lock your kayaks or bicycles to a tree or fencepost (etc.) while on the pedaling or paddling portion of your trip.

2. Be considerate. Keep your equipment under control. While pedaling, this means following the rules of the road. If on dirt trails, don’t trespass on private land. When passing others, whether biking or kayaking, be respectful by letting them know you are there and waiting until there’s room to pass. And, as the above example demonstrates, no one wants to listen to your music.

3. Don’t startle animals. Leave wildlife alone—watch from a distance but don’t approach. Animals are easily startled and can be unpredictable so it’s best to give them a wide berth.

4. Zero impact. Carry out everything that you brought with you. Do not bike on wet, muddy trails. In general, try to leave the river, road, or trail in the same condition as you found it.

Finally, never forget that biking and kayaking are activities that come with a certain amount of risk, so it’s vital that you recreate wisely. This means taking responsibility to be both physically and mentally prepared for whatever you might encounter on the trail.

Biking & Kayaking Across Northern Michigan

%d bloggers like this: