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Thornapple River in Michigan

Trip Overview

Sat, Apr 30, 2011 1:58 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Thornapple River - Middleville to Cascade Dam

Distance: 19.35 mi
Time: 3:18:18
Avg Speed: 5.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 6.2 mph
Max Speed: 10.9 mph

Max speed 10.9 with average moving speed 5.9 SE wind at mt back with flood stage water. Never a dull moment with shifting currents and wind bursts. The Alaska, MI water shoot recorded 10.9 mph on my Garmin and it was my first time with the 15.5'Seaward going through at that speed. Some nose drop and took on water but had a 1/2 skirt on that helped shed the major splash. Next time in flood water I will have a full skirt.

The railroad tressel at the house by the gargoyle had a water level that did not allow for me to go under and was able to spot it soon enough that I could easily portage to the right before the curve without getting slammed by the current into the bridge. Portage was successful but slow as there was no trail, steep hill and lots of briars to navigate through.

The 84th street dam was also very high water but the portage was actually easier because the rock area that usually makes it difficult was under water and I was able to use the chain fence to draw my boat out into an acceptable entry point.

All in all a great trip for experienced kayaker with right craft. Not a time for inexperienced and plastic boat.

In non-flood stage, this is a wonderful river for most kayakers.


see Launch Map Link:

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

Locations on this Trip