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Upcoming Events 

Canoeing in Color, Saturday October 4, 2014

All paddlers are invited to experience the beauty of the Shiawassee River in fall at the annual Canoeing in Color event which will be held on October 4th starting at noon. Canoeing in Color is a celebration of the fall color season on the river and at the end of the paddling season.  It is a time that migrating birds, such as the fall warblers and sand hill cranes can be seen along the river.  There is an active beaver dam where, if you are lucky, you will be able to see the beavers in the river.  This time of year, the deer can often be seen along the banks of the river.  The trees are beginning to change color and the air is cool and crisp.

Canoeing in Color, our Fall color paddle on the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail, will be on Saturday October 4, 2014.  It starts in Water Works Park, 690 S. Broad Street, Holly, Michigan and ends at Strom Park in Fenton.  Registration starts at 11 AM with the boats launching at Noon.  We will continue launching boats till 1 PM, when our sweep boat will follow behind to make sure that everyone got off the river safely.  Heavner's Canoe rental will have boats on site for rent.  You can call them in advance to make sure that the canoe or kayak that you want is on site, otherwise, you take your chances that they will have the boats you want to rent.  Call them at (248) 685-2379.  We will have a tow boat in the Fenton Mill pond for people who would like to be towed across.  Sometimes a strong wind out of the west can make that paddle challenging.

This event is a fundraiser for the people of Headwaters Trails Inc. who keep the river open and cleared of trash.  We ask that you become a member to not only support cleanup efforts, but also to help raise matching money to build a canoe launch and takeout at Fish Lake Road.  The estimate six years ago was $80,000.00 to build the launch.  It is probably higher today.  We need to raise a 30% match to get this built.  This event is free to members and $10.00 to non-members.   Membership is $20.00 for an individual and $22.00 for a family.  

Paddlers register at Water Works Park and drop their craft in WaterWorks Park  They should then drive to Strom Park in Fenton to spot their cars at the end of the 7 mile paddle in Fenton, and be shuttled back to the starting point of Water Works Park courtesy of Headwaters Trails for a nominal fee of $5.  This means that your car will be at Fenton at the end of the paddle down the river.  The return shuttle is included in the $10.00 charge for non-members. 

You can join the cleanups or do other work to support Headwaters Trails Inc.  Just list on your membership form what activities you would like to help with along with a phone number and or an email address and we will contact you.

This is a SEMIWild event co-sponsored by North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy and the Keepers of the Shiawassee.  Other SEMIWild activities can be seen at www.semiwild.org.

 Register on site.  You can download a registration form here.

Election of Officers for 2014-2015, Wednesday October 1, 2014

Come to the Headwaters Trails meeting of October 1, 2014 to elect officers for the coming year.  If you are interested in becoming an officer, this is your chance.  We are looking for new people and in particular, a treasurer.  
We will be meeting in the Holly Village Council Chambers, 315 S. Broad Street, Holly, MI 48442.  The Council Chambers are attached to the Holly Police Station and are accessed through the same door.  The meeting will start at 7 PM.

Who We Are

Headwaters Trails Inc.

Headwaters Trails 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, and the City of Linden 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 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.
Sorenson Park 5K trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail Sorenson Park 5K Trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail
Sorenson Park 5K Trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail
Sorenson Park 5K Trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail
The Trail gets used in all weather.
 Sorenson Park 5K Trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail Sorenson Park 5K Trail / Hiker T. Moose Trail

The Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail is our major accomplishment over the last several years.  For the last several years we have sponsored "The Adventure Paddle", Canoe races and Pleasure paddles in June and "Canoeing in Color" a Color Paddle in October.  In 2014, we did not hold the race, though we still held the Pleasure Paddle.  We might reconsider, if there is enough demand for a race.   The trail starts in Holly and goes to Byron.  The Keepers of the Shiawassee have joined us as have the Friends of the Shiawassee and the river is now open for canoers and kayakers from Holly to Saginaw, except for the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, where portages are necessary because of regulations against removing trees from the waterway in the Refuge.  Several volunteers paddle the river regularly and help remove downed trees and trash.  We are always looking for additional volunteers to help keep the river open and free of trash.

We started out, removing trash, 

Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail - cleanup 

Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail cleanup

then rebuilding a bridge and constructed a new bridge where we had built a temporary bridge along the river.

Old Academy foot bridge Rebuilt Academy foot bridge

Makeshift bridge Harding Mott Bridge

Water 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 and a host of dedicated volunteers.

Water Works Park, Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail starting point Water Works Park, Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail start Water Works Park in Holly, Michigan, Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

The Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail is one of lower Michigan's treasures.  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.  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.

Beaver Lodge, Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail Blanding's Turtles - Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

Headwaters Trails has also helped promote equestrian activities in the Northwest corner of Oakland County.  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 Oakland County on a connection from Highland Oaks up to Rose Oaks, including working to open, the unmaintained, Water Road as a trail.

Horse Trails in Oakland County Horse back riding in Oakland County Michigan


  • Meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month, 7 pm, at the Holly Village Council Chambers.  Anyone interested in trails or trail maintenance is welcome.
  • River 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.  We generally try to eat at someone's house afterward and enjoy each other's company in a non-work setting.  

    Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail cleanup Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

    • The 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.    
    • Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail - Adventure Paddle Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail - Adventure Paddle Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail - Adventure Paddle
  • Canoeing 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 people. 
  • Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail - Canoeing in Color
  • Owl Walks are typically held in late January or early 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 are not: 

We 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.

Contact Info

Headwaters Trails Inc.                                 

P.O. Box 33

Holly, MI 48442-0033

President: Sue Julian                   248-634-3513

Vice President: Rex Mathewson  

Treasurer: This position is open.  Let us know if you think you might want to be Treasurer.

Secretary: Chuck Julian              248-634-3513         headwaterstrailsinc@gmail.com


2003-2013, Headwaters Trails, Inc.