We started at the White Lake public boat access site, located here:
(the access is in Highland Charter Twp, but that's because the lake touches this border of two townships).
The parking lot is ample and free (R-passport required), and the lake and the launch area are across a rather busy Lakeside Highway. Two boats can be launched at a time, and the other are waiting in line at the lot. The boards can be dropped by the water before you park, or, as my brave friend Pete did, carried across the highway.
The lake is large, and, IMO, one can go around it in one trip only if you paddle like you're racing, but that was not our goal, so we decided right away, that this time we do only one half. It took us about 3 hours at our usual leisurely pace, and we covered 5.3 miles.
We started clock-wise keeping to the shore, and our first check-point was a little canal system on the left, appropriately called Venice. I hoped to find a path under Tes Drive, so we could enter one canal and exit another, but no, there was none, so we just returned same way back to the lake.
I was prepared to go all the way to the tip of what I thought was a peninsula, but unexpectedly the metal bridge at the entrance to Seven Harbors area showed up and changed our plans.
We entered the canal with me thinking it's perhaps a short pass like the one we just were at. It lead to a very calm and shallow bay with the houses jammed around and boats slowly appearing from nowhere. Every time I would say something: no way this boat would come here through that channel. Apparently I kept to a delusion that it's just another inner small body of water, and not a part of the main lake for almost as long as Columbus thought he discovered India and not Americas :)
Eventually, while we were moving along the shore on the left, we saw the large opening, and the mystery of large boats was solved.
The shore is very beautiful, and, a nice surprise, there is a little store (called... you got it, The Little Store), accessible from the water! I wish there was one on every lake! Even though on a September Sunday afternoon the store was closed, I still admire the fact that it was there.
When we turned around the corner we saw another bridge on the left, and we entered another maze of picturesque canals, with two more bridges. Under one of them we passed twice. White Lake is certainly a leader in the number of bridges! I should have taken picture of each of them, but we didn't want to slow down. After all, we hadn't yet really been to the main lake - just in its bays and canals.
And finally we made it to Dawson Island! We made a stop there to bask in the shallow and very clean water.
A building opposite of this point looked like a restaurant with several boat docks. Later we found that it was, indeed, a restaurant called "White Lake Inn" praised very much on several web sites for its food, entertainment, and most of all for the great setting and lake views. Just another thing to check next time we're here :)
Dawson Island is shaped a little like a stingray, and a smaller unnamed (?) island next to it - like a small dolphin :). The boats were coming often through the narrow path between the two islands. That was fun to watch, and even to listen, because the path is very shallow, and if they don't slow down they risk to get stuck (which, judging from the sounds, happened to some). The waves from motor boats were forming beautiful patterns on the shallow water.
Having made around and between the islands we headed to the starting point. Apparently we left the whole southern half unexplored, including Hubbels Island and several lovely bays and peninsulas. Cannot wait to return to this lake to explore it all! Perhaps it might be very busy during the summer days, but in the end of September it was just perfect for paddle-boarding!
Stand Up Paddling
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