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St. Mary's River in Michigan

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

If you are looking for a quick little paddle on your way to Lake Superior or the North Channel this is your place. The put in is at Rotary Park, which is right next to the Sugar Island Ferry. There are a series of small islands to the south along a dredged portion of the St. Mary's river between Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sugar Island. There 4 to 5 island that harbor lots of waterfowl and birds. One of the most spectacular aspects of this area is the large lake ships or freighters that pass just feet away. This is one of the narrowest points along the St. Mary's so it is possible to see them up close and personal.

WARNING: Freighters displace huge amounts of water and can make paddling very tricky, hence the moderate difficulty. They can reverse the current, which can reach speeds of 3ft/sec, in the small but deep channels between the islands. DO NOT get within 200 ft of the freighters. This is a wonderful place for a short paddle and to watch the birds and the boats and test your skills in the swift current between the islands.


There are bathrooms at the park with many restaurants and accommodation in the Soo.


No permits of fees required :)


Take I-75 north and get off on exit 394 (the last exit before toll). Lake Superior State University will be on your right. Take a left off the exit ramp go over I-75 then take a right on to Portage Ave and the first stop. Follow about 3-4 miles (very rough estimate) through downtown Sault Ste. Marie, pass the Soo Locks. Follow sign to the Sugar Island Ferry. When you see the Ferry take a left off of Portage towards the Ferry, there will be a gold course on the right side of the road. To the south of the Ferry you will find Rotary Park.


I would put in on the west side of the park so that you do not have to deal with the river current while launching.


Any road map should be enough with the Sault Ste. Marie Quadrangle being very helpful.

Trip Details

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

Trip Location