your paddlesports destination

Galien River in Michigan

Trip Overview

This is the second time I have paddled the Galien River and recent environmental efforts that I have heard about seem to be working. The Galien makes for a nice day trip for those in the genral area of Chicago.

There is a canoe launch on Red Arrow Highway just a mile or so east of downtown New Buffalo. From this launch, you have two options and each has a unique character.

If you go downstream, the river winds through a beautiful marshland with the banks covered in purple flowers in mid-summer. The river in this stretch is plenty wide and will eventually take you into the busy New Buffalo harbor which is full of motor boats. If you pull up under the bridge in town and walk up the embankment, you will be right next to the popular Lazy Dog Cafe where you can have a drink and sandwich. You can also paddle through the harbor out to Lake Michigan and some nice beaches. It's about 3 hours down to the harbor and back.

Going upstream is completely different. Immediately, you are into a pretty woodland steam full of downed trees which will challenge your manuvering skills. On this trip, my friend, James and I were able to paddle about 2 hours up the river until we hit a huge logjam. It's possible, but difficult to get around it, so we turned around and headed back downstream on a solid but gentle current. It will only take an hour to go back down.

If you want to make a full day of it, go upstream first, float back down, and then keep going down to the harbor.

This would be a great trip in the fall when the trees are turning colors.


There is a place in downtown New Buffalo that rents kayaks.


Take US 12 to New Buffalo, just north of Michigan border. Pick up Red Arrow Highway east out of town to canoe launch which is about a mile east of town.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip