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Flat River in Michigan

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Put in at Colby Rd, took out at my home near Gowen General Store on Sidney Rd. We had just had quite a bit of rain and the river was flooded over the banks. It looked so different. I kayak this stretch often in the spring when water levels are high, but not when it has been so far above flood stage. It made me think... "This is what this River looked like 100 years ago".

I did not have to portage around any tree fall, just found paths thru the woods. The water was running pretty fast in places. A couple times I had a hard time determining where the river was, the current would take right into the woods. I got under Sidney Rd. Bridge with no problem, but had I needed to go under Colby bridge or Twin bridges, I don't think I would have made it.

I took the creek up to School Section Lake with no problem, there was plenty of water. The Girlscout Camp hadn't put out there dock yet, so I was able to get onto the lake without having to portage.

It was a very enjoyable trip. I just love this river. It's quiet, you rarely see anyone else on the river.

On this stretch of the Flat River you must be prepared to portage around tree fall. You don't always have to... depending on water level, but you just never know when a new tree has fallen. Early this spring (2009) someone did go through and cut a path. The water was high then, when it drops below that level, portage will be required again. I would not recommend this stretch of the Flat River to the novice or faint of heart. My kayak shows signs of abuse from this stretch of river, but I love it!


Hotels in Greenville, MI (6-miles)




From Grand Rapids: Take 131 North to Greenville exit, go east on M57 to Lincoln Lake Rd, go North on Lincoln Lake Rd to Johnson Rd, go north on Johnson to Colby Rd, go east on Colby to river.


Mapquest has good satellite images of the river in Gowen, MI.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location