State of Michigan DNR announced on December 20, 2018, the first
Michigan waterways to be designated as State Water Trails. The
Shiawassee River Trail, starting in Holly, Michigan and extending 88
miles downstream, is on the list of those first eight designated trails. The
Shiawassee River Water Trail Coalition has been working to achieve this
goal and has also applied for National Water Trail designation.
That application has been held up in Washington with the
applications of other organizations due to the Trump administration.
Trails has received a grant of $10,000.00 from Saginaw Bay WIN to be
used as match money toward a grant proposal to build a launch at Fish
Lake Road, on the Shiawassee River, in Holly Township.
Passport Grant proposal to the DNR was turned down. Many groups
applied for money this year and we did not make the cut.
Headwaters Trails is now working on other sources of funding to
build the Fish Lake Road Launch.
link below lists all the events put on by both Headwaters Trails and
the Keepers of the Shiawassee in 2018 as well as other events on the
river that we are aware of.. There is a handy printable map
included. 2019 Schedule of Events
Woody Debris Management Class Thursday May 16, 2019 6:00 PM
Headwaters Trails members will be offering a class in Woody Debris Management in preparation for the Shiawassee River Cleanup on Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, 2019 that
goes from Holly to Byron. This class is open to anyone interested
in learning about Woody Debris management. We will review the
material found in our Best Practices page and bring tools for
demonstration. Safety and what to wear will be discussed.
Getting out of the water and moving along the river in a boat can
get quite cold if not properly dressed. We will also briefly
discuss beaver dams and how
to live peacefully with them. The class will be held at the
Gazebo off of Leroy Street, in Bush Park, in Fenton, Michigan.
Pizza will be provided for all that attend. It is our goal
to teach the techniques needed to do river cleanups that meet with the
approval of the Michigan DEQ, that may be used on any rivers in
Michigan but specifically to train people to clean up the Shiawassee
River responsibly. We are particularly interested in involving
people in the Shiawassee River Coalition who have cleanups
that are in other sections of the river, later in the year. This
session will assign volunteers to work with leaders of the river
We will be dividing the river cleanup into sections with leaders
leading the cleanup in those sections. We will discuss who will
meet where and at what time, avoiding having us all meet at one place
and then move out from there.
Shiawassee River Cleanup from Holly to Byron (and maybe beyond if we have enough volunteers)
On Saturday May 18, 2019 and Sunday May 19, 2019,
we will be doing a river cleanup of the Shiawassee River where we will
manage woody debris, but also pick up trash and trim low hanging
branches that make it difficult to paddle. We welcome anyone
willing to help in this adventure. You do need a boat to get down
the river. If you do not have one and are willing to help someone
with a canoe or rowboat, contact Chuck Julian (contact info below).
He will work on
getting people who need rides assigned to boats that have extra room.
We will be cutting woody debris, so a chainsaw is always a plus.
You do not need a chainsaw to work on the river. As debris
is cut, a big job is placing and anchoring the cut wood along the banks
of the river to protect the shore and maintain habitat for fish in the
river. Every year, we have pulled a huge amount of trash out of
the river, ranging from plastic bottles, and food wrappers to old tires
and chunks of styrofoam. We always seem to find old fishing lures
and bobbers, with fishing line that needs to be removed from the river.
If you want to go down the river in a kayak, that works,
though canoes and rowboats are best for hauling trash that we pick out
of the river. If you have grabbers that can be used to reach out
and grab bottles and cups out of the river, those are useful for
reaching under brush and into log jams. It is helpful to bring
trash bags for the trash. Lopping shears are also needed for
clipping those face slapping branches that hang over the river.
If you are using a rowboat, we recommend that you have a trolling
motor to help you down the river. After the cleanup, we will be
eating together at a place to be announced during the training
session on May 16th. This is always a fun event with like minded
people working together to get the river ready for the new season of
paddling then relaxing together to enjoy each other's company.
Adventure Paddle Saturday June 8, 2019
Trails will hold its annual Adventure Paddle on the Shiawassee River on
Saturday June 8, 2019, with Sunday as an alternate, should there be
lightening predicted or heavy rain on Saturday. Registration
begins at Water Works Park in Holly, at 690 S. Broad Street, at 11:00
am. The official start will be at noon, where we will have
volunteers along the river at the railroad tubes, the Academy foot
bridge, the beaver dam and at Strom Park, to help you if needed.,
but if you want to go early, that is OK. At 2:00, we will launch
the sweep boat to make sure that everyone who started gets off the
river OK. This event is free to members, but we charge $10.00 to
non-members for shuttling of cars and $5.00 for members. We ask
that you renew your membership at this event or become a member if not
already, to support the goals of Headwaters Trails.
is a great time of the year to paddle the Shiawassee. Few people
get to see an active beaver dam yet there is one on the Shiawassee that
we will cut a notch through for the paddle. Don't worry, the
beavers will have it repaired in a couple of days. It is at a
time when spring migration is bringing back the Sandhill cranes, yellow
warblers, kingfishers and other birds that enrich the environment.
Many flowers are in bloom, giving the air a lovely scent that we
associate with spring. Sometimes you can see fish spawning in the
shallows, spot the deer on the banks and see the returning Monarch
butterflies. Patches of wild rice exist along the banks that
provide food for the birds and helped sustain the native americans that
used the river as a highway
Quiet Water Symposium
Trails in conjunction with the Shiawassee River Coalition, will be
displaying at the Quiet Water Symposium, March 2, 2019, from 9 AM
to 5:30 PM. This event is at 4301 Farm Lane, Michigan State
University, East Lansing, MI. It is an event where people display
information on places to paddle, along with a a lot of equipment you
may want, from kayaks and canoes to camping gear. Included in the
Expo, are speakers who cover a variety of topics related to paddling.
For more info, go to https://quietwatersociety.org/
Owl Walk, Presentation of Live Owls and Pot Luck Dinner
Saturday January 26, 2019
Free Owl Walk, Live Owl Talk & Pot Luck Dinner
Saturday January 26, 2019
Event was a great event with live owls and a bald eagle shown by the
Howell Nature Center. 92 people attended the event with plenty of
food available and a large number of door prizes. Afterward, we
watched the movie, "Owl Power". The walk itself was cancelled on
the recommendation of the park manager at Seven Lakes State Park, due
to icy conditions on the roads in the park. You can see pictures
of the event on the Headwaters Trails Facebook page.
Who We Are
Headwaters Trails Inc.
is a non-profit 501(c3) group whose mission is to facilitate and promote the
cooperation of local governments in Southeast Michigan with specific emphasis
on Holly, Rose, Groveland, Springfield, Fenton and Argentine Townships, the
Village of Holly, the City of Fenton, the City of Linden and Oakland County Parks to create new
recreational opportunities including the creation of a network of trails for
the area residents and visitors. Those trails include both water and land trails.
The Foundation Trail at Holly High School
Foundation Trails is a Mountain Bike Trail created at Holly High
School. There is a link to a map of the trail on our Trail
The Sorenson Park 5K Trail is a walking
and jogging trail constructed by Headwaters Trails within the confines
of Sorenson Park in Holly, Michigan. The trail was cleared,
leveled and then wood chipped to make a walking surface. Along
the edges of the trail, large amounts of the invasive tree, autumn
olive, were removed and chipped for use on the trail.
The Trail gets used in all weather.
River Heritage Water Trail is our major accomplishment over the last several
years.For the last several years we
have sponsored "The Adventure Paddle", a pleasure paddle down the river in June and "Canoeing in Color" a Color Paddle in
October. Both go from Water Works Park in Holly to Strom Park in Fenton. The River Heritage Water Trail starts in Holly and
goes to Saginaw Bay.The Keepers of the
Shiawassee have joined us as have the Friends of the Shiawassee in maintaining the river and the river
is now open and mostly free of portages and trash, for canoers and kayakers to enjoy from Holly to Saginaw,
except for the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, where portages are
still necessary.Our Volunteers paddle
the river regularly to remove downed trees and trash.We
are always looking for additional
volunteers to help keep the river open and free of trash. We use
Best Practices for River Cleanups. These have been reviewed by
the MDNR. Contact
Chuck Julian if you are interested in joining us for river cleanups.
We started out, removing trash,
then rebuilding a bridge and constructed a new bridge where we had built a temporary bridge along the river.
Works Park is the start of the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail.
We did a lot of work to improve the appearance of that park and
the river, with help from the Village of Holly, the Holly DDA, The
Harding Mott Foundation, Saginaw Valley WIN, REI, Haddon Nursery, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy and a
host of dedicated volunteers.
Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail is
one of lower Michigan's treasures. We view it as an "UP North"
experience down here in SE Michigan. Along the river you will see
very few houses, mostly, open fields, trees and wet lands.
Wildlife is abundant. The Shiawassee has beavers who have
built a dam. This might be your first time to have ever seen a
beaver dam or glimpse a beaver, since most have been killed for their
fur. The river has abundant fish and birds attracted by the fish
and the plants along the river. Deer graze along the shore.
Blue Heron are common as are kingfishers, king birds, and ducks.
Endangered Blandings Turtles nest along the river. The
fields and wetlands along the river provide habitat for the endangered
Powersheik Skiperling and Karner Blue butterfly as well as rare and
endangered native flowers. Nature presents itself in all its
glory as you glide down the
waters of the river. Water quality monitoring shows the
Shiawassee to be a healthy river, accounting for all the wild life.
We believe that when people can see and enjoy this treasure, they
will also become advocates for its protection.
Blandings Turtles on a log
Good sport fishing on the river
has also helped promote equestrian activities in the Northwest corner of OaklandCounty.They co-sponsored with Rose Oaks Equine
Adventurers several "Ride the Rose" events which acquainted the
equestrians with trails opened for horses in Rose Oaks County Parks.They are also working with OaklandCounty and the Highland Equestrian Conservancy on a connection from
Highland Oaks up to Rose Oaks, including working to open, the unmaintained, Water
as a trail. We have encouraged Oakland County Parks to create
horse friendly trails in both Highland Oaks County Park and Rose Oaks
County Park, and they have done so.
are held the first Wednesday of each month, , at the Holly Village Council Chambers, 315 S. Broad Street, Holly Michigan.Anyone interested in building trails, supporting trails or trail
maintenance is welcome.
cleanups are held from May to September with others added if the weather
is good.Volunteers are always
welcome.You need to provide us
with a phone number or an email address if you wish to be contacted for
these events.It is not necessary
to own a chain saw or a boat to participate.Once
logs are cut, it take several people to move them to the banks and
anchor them. We have pulled a tremendous amount of junk out of
the river that had accumulated over many years, including tires, a
wheel chair, a trailer, home heating oil tanks, shipping containers as
well as bottles, cans, food wrappers, styrofoam, old docks, toys,
fishing gear and a variety of miscellaneous stuff. You just need
a willingness to get wet and a desire to help out. We generally
try to eat at someone's house afterward and enjoy each other's company
in a non-work setting.
Adventure Paddle is held the second Sunday in June.You
may attend the event as a participant or volunteer to help with the
organization of the event.
in Color is a fall adventure paddling the Shiawassee to see the color
changes.It is held the first
Saturday in October and is a last paddle of the warmer weather for most
Walks are typically held in January or February.We move the location from place to place
each year so as to experience the wonders of different trails while
looking for owls.These
events are usually pot luck and intended as social events to get to
know other people interested in trails better. We do ask that
people become members at these events. They are not inexpensive
to put on.
We are not:
are not a canoe or kayak rental company. When we sponsor events
on the river, usually Heavner's Canoe Rental in Milford will provide
rentals on site for that event only. The rest of the year, there
is no livery in Holly to rent boats to you. If you need to rent a
boat, we suggest that you rent one at Proud Lake Recreation Area, in
Milford, Michigan from Heavner's Canoe Rental or from Cheff's Canoe
Rental in the Walnut Hills Campground in Byron, Michigan. It is
our hope that some day a livery will open in the area that will service
the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail in Holly and Fenton but until
that time, you need your own boats except for the Fall, Canoeing in
Color event and the Spring, Adventure Paddle.