Best places to kayak
Lake Michigan Water Trail
New Buffalo to South Haven: 50 miles of coastline that offers some of the most amazing scenery — magnificent dunes, lighthouses, wilderness, beach towns where you can shop and catch a bite to eat and stunning sunsets. Popular places to launch are New Buffalo Beach, Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Weko Beach in Bridgman, Lions Park/Silver Beach/Tiscornia Beach in St. Joseph, Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor and Deerlick Creek Park in South Haven.
The waves on this freshwater sea can change quickly from mirror-smooth to dangerously wild. Always check the weather and wind conditions before paddling; wear a properly fitting life jacket; and if you are a beginner, stay close to the shoreline.
Galien River Marsh Trail
Approximately a six-mile stretch on the river that starts at Glassman Park in New Buffalo Township and ends at the City of New Buffalo’s boat launch. This is an easy river to paddle upstream and downstream. The best viewing of wildlife is in the early morning and evening.
Sister Lakes Area
Dowagiac & Edwardsburg: The calm inland waters in the Sister Lakes area are ideal for stand-up paddle boarding. You can paddle from sunrise to sunset on Magician Lake, Dewey Lake, Indian Lake, Pipestone Lake, Cable Lake, Big Crooked Lake, Little Crooked Lake and Round Lake. But one of our favorite paddles is starting at the Christiana Creek Paddling Launch near Edwardsburg and then doing one, two or all three of the interconnected lakes — Juno Lake, Christiana Lake and Painter Lake.
Where to launch kayaks
We have several kayak launches throughout Southwest Michigan. Some of them are a little more established than others, while a few are simply right off the sand of our beaches. Here are a few popular spots:
Galien River Access: Red Arrow Highway, East of New Buffalo
Paw Paw River Riverside Access: On Coloma Road, this launch is handicap accessible with a mechanism to help slide into the kayak and lower into and out of the water!
St. Joseph River access: Niles Boat Ramp – Niles
Where to rent kayaks
Doe-Wah-Jack's Canoe Rental
Doe-Wah-Jack's Canoe Rental in Dowagiac lets you explore the beautiful and historic Dowagiac River.
Scooter Joe’s Wheel and Water Rentals
Scooter Joe’s Wheel and Water Rentals in St. Joseph is your downtown source for kayaks and canoes, pontoon and jet ski rentals to get you on the water. Paddlers can launch from the Inn at Harbor Shores location on the inner harbor or have your group take the free shuttle to a launch site up the Paw Paw River.
Third Coast Paddling
Third Coast Paddling offers single and two-person kayaks and stand-up paddleboard rentals so you can explore Lake Michigan and the Paw Paw River in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph and the Galien River in New Buffalo. If you want to take surfing or sandboarding lessons, check out their class schedule and rentals at Third Coast Surf Shop.
Find more kayaking locations and launches
Plan your paddling route with our Southwest Michigan Paddling Guide below! Organized by body of water, you can find out where the launches are for where you hope to kayak. Have fun!