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Cedar Island Lake (White Lake Twp, MI

Trip Overview

On out meetup page we posted this trip as "Bring Your Beginner". I've never been to this lake before, but on the map it looked very beginners friendly: like a set of small lakes, islands, bays and canals piled together. Indeed, your beginner can turn back at any time when they had enough, and it would be a short and safe trip back to the starting point. Unfortunately, beginners did not show up. Well, we just went ahead to explore the new water in all the details. The parking lot of the DNR access is described as "Paved Parking for approx 4 Trailers & Vehicle". Hmm... paved? When we landed there, the only car on the lot, it felt like we filled the whole thing. When we returned after paddling the lake, 4 more cars were sharing the tiny place in a friendly manner. Just FYI, if you plan on a bigger party perhaps you'd need to look for parking spaces around. See the street view from Google Maps below. That's a very beautiful lake! It's shallow with rather steep banks, the water is clean and, even in the windy weather, not too rough. Nowhere you would be more than 1000 ft from the shore, so except the very central part it feels like paddling a wide creek. Small however it is, the shore line is whimsical, and if you just follow it religiously the length of your trip could be 5 miles and more. See the map of our route (and I can't believe that we still missed 2 canal systems!). Moving clockwise we passed under the bridge under Cedar Shores Dr., with this funny "Tunnel Rules" sign: "Sing a Song", "Make a Wish". The narrow lagoon on the left after the bridge was, perhaps, my favorite part of the lake because of some special beauty of gardens and landscaping on the shore. Pete was very reluctant to enter the narrow canal that opened next. He kept hanging out at its entrance, informing me: "I'm not going there", "I'm sure there is nothing there", "You're going to get stuck soon", and so on, until, from around the corner, I promised him that it gets better. I knew from the map that there should be a creek snaking for a couple of miles before running into (or out of?) Oxbow Lake, and it's a large private lake to which this might be the only access from the outside. We followed the creek for about 1/2 mile before turning back. The water was very low and dense with weeds making it really hard to move on. However, the houses scattered around had pontoon or motor boats docked by their side which was suggesting that this water can be much easier to pass, perhaps in early summer. I do plan to return to this lake next year and try to go all the way to Oxbow Lake. Back to the Lake, we found it much more animated with scooters and pontoons. I guess this is another attractive feature of this lake: because of it's modest size and shallow waters it's the best suitable for pontoons - which makes us, paddlers, only too happy. After about 3.5 of circling the lake and its canals, I still had one thing to explore. The map suggests that, right by the access site, there is a connector to another creek which goes all the way to Brendel Lake. The connector (it can be seen on the Google photo, on the left) looked inviting, and I was sure that was can walk and drag boards through it until, on the other side, it could be paddled. This time Pete, ever cautious, won: he insisted on taking a look at the other side of the road (the exit is also seen on the Google photo, on the right). Upon taking a look I had to agree that foamy muddy water did not look pretty enough to go there on a board. Maybe, again, next year in early summer!
  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Stand Up Paddling
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Number of Portages: 1

Locations on this Trip