Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail has been designated a National
Water Trail by the National Park Service. It is now one of five
National Water Trails in the State of Michigan. This designation
does not come with money but it recognizes the efforts of those
involved in creating a water trail and maintaining it as a recreational
asset to the communities along the trail.
Good News - Fish Lake Road
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Fund has given Headwaters Trails and the
North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancey (NOHLC) a grant of
$50,000.00 to be used for the construction of a canoe launch at Fish
Lake Road on property already owned by Headwaters Trails Inc.
Headwaters Trails has additionally raised $80,000.00 to complete
this project, through grants of $10,000 from Saginaw Bay WIN, $17,000 from Holly Township and the rest
from individual donors. See the article about the launch in the
19 has delayed getting the necessary permits, but we still hope to get
these in time so the project can be completed in 2021.
Parking at this site requires substantial fill and Oakland
County Road Commission compliance. Permits have been applied for and
preliminary engineering done.
with the launch, the Road Commission is changing out the culvert for
Fish Lake Road at the River in 2021. This change out will have
them extending the culvert and putting a sidewalk along the road, over
the river, so that people parking on the Holly Township property north
of the river can get across to the launch, walking with a canoe or
kayak. The current culvert is so short that there is not space to
walk along the side of the road with a boat. Thank You, Road
Commission for Oakland County.
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. 2021
Schedule of Events
Spring River Cleanup May 22 & 23, 2021
river cleanup of the Shiawassee River from Holly to Walnut Hills
Campground in Durand, was a big success. The river is now open.
That does not mean that there will not be newly fallen trees and
more trash to pickup, but at least for the moment it is open.
Many thanks to the people who made this possible, including the
crew leaders, Rex Mathewson, Debbie McCarty, Brad Jacob, Dave Spaine,
Chris Dickenson, Tom Landers, and Rob Vandermark. There are
photos of the event on the Headwaters Trails and Keepers of the
Shiawassee Facebook pages.
River Cleanup of May 30 - 31, 2020
River cleanup was a huge success. The river is now open for
paddling from Holly to the Walnut Hills Campground in Durand. I
want to first thank our team leaders, Rex Mathewson, Dave Spaine, Steve
Hoffman, Chris Dickenson, Tom Landers and Rob Vandemark, and then all
the people who made this cleanup possible (forgive me if I missed you
in this list or mis-spelled your name), Dora Dingwall, Chris Compton,
Mary Whaley, Cat McCullough, Don Lostert, Randy Alberts, Jannell
Tillman, Dave Lossing, Sue Lossing, Sue Julian, Pat Cockfield, Rudy
Toufar, Andy ?, Trevor Wolff, Maggie Yerman, Bruce Allan, Ricky
Ostrowski, Lennie Brousseau, Hunter Taylor, Jacob Vandemark, Jeanette
Fureigh, Jessica Fureigh, Pam Albright, Linda Hoogtup, Hubert Ash, Wade
Prestonise, Pat Baize, Dale Fishwick, Scott Brittain, Gary Drury,
and Amy Drury. There are a lot of photos published on The
Keepers of the Shiawassee webpage, so I am not copying them here.
Canoeing in Color
year, Canoeing in Color will be held on Saturday October 5, 2019. We
will be welcoming Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and her husband Dave Moore
to join us on the river. Come early if you would like to meet
Representative Slotkin. In honor of Representative Slotkin's family
heritage of owning Hygrade Food Products, we will be cooking and giving
away Hygrade Ball Park Franks at the event. There will also be
vegetarian Morning Star Hot Dogs for those who do not eat meat. Due to circumstances beyond our control, Representative
Slotkin will not be able to join us for the paddle. Her Husband Dave
may still make it and her aide Laura Murphy will be there.
Registration for the event starts at 11:00 am with boats launching
from noon to 2 pm. People may launch before that time, but our
helpers at the railroad tubes will not be in place till noon. At
2:00, we will launch the sweep boat that will be there to make sure that
all participants get off the river safely. Due to engine problems,
this year, there will be no tow boat in the Fenton Mill Pond. With
paddling at a leasurily pace, expect it to take 3 hours to get to Strom
Park where our volunteers will help you get out of the water and load your
This event is free to Headwaters Trails members, with the only cost being
$5.00 if you want assistance spotting your car and getting a return ride
back to Water Works Park. For non-members, there is a charge of
$10.00, that includes assistance in spotting your car.
This event is a fundraiser for Headwaters Trails Inc. whose members
have been opening the river for paddling by cutting a passage through
downed trees and removing trash since 1995. Please become a member at
this event if you are not already a member.
The fall color season is a beautiful time to be paddling down the
Shiawassee River with leaves beginning to change color and migrating birds
passing through. This is a perfect way to end the summer paddling
The event starts at Strom Park in Holly, 690 S. Broad Street. It ends
in Strom Park in Fenton, 229 S. East Street.
It is possible to rent kayaks through EZ Kayak in Linden. They are
open Friday through Sunday of the week. You must call them and
reserve a boat at least one day in advance. They do not bring extra
kayaks to the event for rental. 810-241-1195
Adventure Paddle 2019
60 people participated in the annual Adventure Paddle on the Shiawassee
River on June 8, 2019. Many thanks to those who participated and to
those who volunteered to make the event a success.
Holly to Byron river cleanup,
May 18 & 19, 2019
thanks to the people who made the river cleanup from Holly to Byron
successful: Tom Landers, Debbie McCarty, Rex Mathewson, Dave Spaine,
Randy Alberts, Chris Compton, Jacquelyne Compton, Jannell Tillman, Mary
Blanchard, Bruce Allan, Chris Dickenson, Dora Dingwall, Gary Drury, Cat
McCullough, Don Losert, Maggie Yerman, Samantha Forsyth, Mary Waley,
Bill Davis, Jay Kelly, Andrew Kelly, Mike Dietz and Karen Dietz.
These are the people who care about the river and decided to do something
about making a trip down the river a pleasurable experience. We need
more people like them.
debris training session in Bush Park on May 16 was well attended.
Issues of what to cut and what to leave were discussed along with
guidelines give to us by the DNR. We also discussed safety, use and maintenance
of tools, proper dress and allowed volunteers to decide which sections of
the river they would like to work on.
Quiet Water Symposium
Headwaters 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
January 26, 2019
Owl Walk, Live Owl Talk & Pot Luck Dinner
January 26, 2019
The 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
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, 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
The 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 Resources tab.
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
We started out,
removing trash from the river,
then rebuilding a
bridge and constructed a new bridge where we had built a temporary bridge
along the river.
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, North Oakland Headwaters Land
Conservancy and a host of dedicated volunteers.
The 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.
Great Blue Herron
Blandings Turtles on a log
Good sport fishing
on the river
Headwaters Trails 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
Road 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. Our main cleanup is the
weekend in May one week before Memorial Day weekend. It is our
goal to have Holly to Byron ready for the opening of paddling season.
The Thursday before the cleanup, we host a training session to
teach volunteers to do cleanups that meet with the MDNR's
approval. 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.
These events tend to be a lot of fun working with people who
have shared interests.
Adventure Paddle is held the second Saturday in June with the
following day as an alternate for bad weather. 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 with the
following day as an alternate for bad weather and is a last paddle of
the warmer weather for most people.
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 typically have a
presentation with live owls and a movie about owls for people who do
not want to go on the walk. We do ask that people become members
at these events. They are not inexpensive to put on.
We are not:
We are not a canoe or kayak rental
company. 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, EZ Kayak in Linden 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. EZ Kayak will rent boats for the Adventure
Paddle and Color Paddle if contacted at least a day in advance. They
do not have boats on site for rental.
Shiawassee River Water Trail
Headwaters Trails is a member of the
Shiawassee River Water Trail Coalition. This organization is composed
of citizen groups and government entities interested in promoting paddling
on the river and maintaining it as a water trail. It has a State of
Michigan designation as a State Water Trail and has applied for National
Water Trail Designation. Members of the Coalition consider it to be
one of the great kayaking water trails in the country. The Coalition,
through the support of its members, has received funding to hire Terrain
360 to do 360 degree photography and GPS mapping of the river from Holly to
Chesaning. When completed, it will be posted on the Coalition
website so that people can view the section of the river that they wish to
paddle, being able to view it over 360 degrees, similar to what Google
Street View produces, as an aid to planning a trip.