The Clinton River
Individuals interested in kayaking or canoeing will love Macomb County’s 42 mile stretch of the Clinton River. With clean, clear and cool water, it is an ideal location for outdoor activities. And with several local outfitters to choose from, getting out on this waterway is an easy, affordable and fun thing to do.
But as we all know, changing conditions can turn an enjoyable activity into something dangerous. So before you head out, please consider the following water safety guidelines:
- Never drink alcohol and paddle.
- Always wear a life jacket. Other safety equipment should be considered as well, including a helmet, footwear, a spare change of clothes, a whistle and a cell phone packed in a water-proof case. It is also important to bring clean drinking water that will help you stay hydrated.
- Study your planned route and be knowledgeable about recommended skill levels, as well as points where you can safely get ashore along the way.
- Unless you are an experienced kayaker and a strong swimmer, stay close enough to shore to swim if necessary.
- Practice re-entering your kayak from the water before heading out. You want to be sure you can get back in if you tip.
- Dress for the weather. Going over in cold water can become life-threatening within minutes.
- Kayak with a buddy. It is safer and more fun.
- File a float plan with a trusted friend or family member – let people know when you are leaving, where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Check weather conditions and water levels before heading out: This step is extremely important, as when the water runs high after heavy rain, the river can become impassable due to fallen trees and limbs.
And please be forewarned – some stretches of the Clinton River are NOT for beginners! Several sections, particularly between Dequindre Road in Rochester Hills and Van Dyke in Utica, should be paddled only by experienced kayakers. The lower river, from Budd Park in Clinton Township downstream to Mt. Clemens, is the best stretch for beginners.
For more information about paddling the Clinton River Water Trail and to check current stream conditions and weather, visit: .
The Clinton River is one of the nation’s best urban paddling rivers.
The middle river, from downtown Utica to Rotary Park in Sterling Heights, is a wonderful stretch that is easily accessible and provides great opportunities to have a moderate paddle for the beginner to advanced (conditions vary).
The lower river, particularly from Budd Park in Clinton Township to Mount Clemens, is the best stretch for beginners. A section from Utica to Sterling Heights is being improved for access and will become a key area for beginner and intermediate paddlers.
Anyone wanting to paddle the Clinton River should understand that sections can be challenging and the water can run very fast and high, especially after a rain event. You should always check the streamflow gage nearest to the area you are paddling to assess if the river is running high.
Dequindre Road and 23 Mile Road
Riverbends Park – Landing
5700 22 Mile Road at Ryan Road
Downtown Utica – at Auburn Road
Heritage Park (ADA accessible)
44505 Van Dyke
North Clinton River Park
8600 Riverland Drive
Budd Park – Clinton Township
19000 Clinton River Road
Rotary Park – Sterling Heights
37328 Utica Rd
Shadyside Park – Mount Clemens
Downtown Mount Clemens/MacArthur Park (ADA accessible)
96 North River Road
Harley Ensign Memorial Park
32995 S River Road
Waterfront Parks and Nearby Hike/Bike Trails
This hike and bike path is a 24-mile linear park that starts at 24 Mile Road and Dequindre in Shelby Township and travels northeast to the city of Richmond. It connects with Stony Creek Metropark, Bloomer Park and the Clinton River Trail.
This large park on Lake St. Clair offers a variety of activities, including a sandy swimming beach, marina and boat launching sites.
This expansive park offers a wide variety or year-round activities including swimming beaches, boating, hiking, golfing, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.
Downtown Mount Clemens River District
Once known for its mineral baths, today, Mount Clemens is the unique combination of city living and pastoral ambiance. Residents and visitors can boat or kayak along the scenic Clinton River, dock at the riverfront park and head inland to enjoy everything that charming downtown Mount Clemens has to offer. It has a thriving restaurant row, specialty shops and many options to enjoy the pub and nightlife scene. The city also offers top-notch special events that include riverfront concerts, parades, festivals and the area’s premier firework event.
Utica boasts a vibrant business district offering a wonderful variety of restaurants, quaint shops and hotels. In 2016, Jimmy John’s Field opened on Auburn Road adjacent to M-59 in downtown Utica. This state-of-the-art ballpark offers fun for the whole family. Utica is known for its beautiful park system and abundant opportunities to get outdoors and play – by picnicking, biking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and more.