Canoeing & Kayaking

Les Cheneaux Water Trail

One of Michigan’s first water trails, this route spans more than 75 miles of the northern-most shores of Lake Huron from the Carp River (near St. Ignace) through the Les Cheneaux Islands, continuing to DeTour Village (at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River). The Les Cheneaux Islands area is composed of a 36-island archipelago, which was historically used by Native Americans and French explorers to reach the Straits of Mackinac en route from the DeTour Passage and St. Mary’s River.

The Les Cheneaux area, which includes the villages of Cedarville and Hessel, has been designated by The Nature Conservancy as one of the “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere because of its ecologically pristine marshes and wetlands, unique limestone shorelines and karst features, rare and endangered species, and its importance to migrating songbirds, with around 250 bird species using the area as a stopover or breeding ground.

While the trail has been traditionally navigated by paddle craft; the waters are also used by power boats and deep-water craft.

Rustic and modern camping sites and small cabin resorts are located along the trail.

Safety Tips

  • Always study the shoreline on the chart and review exit points.
  • Plan your trip before you leave shore and inform someone of your plans.
  • Practice your paddling skills and know what you are doing.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device.
  • Travel with a companion and make yourself conspicuous.
  • Kayaks and canoes are not easily seen by other boats.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and for the water temperature. Hypothermia is a killer!
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Extra items to carry with you might include a paddle, rain gear, lights, and a compass.
  • Respect private homes and property. Please take breaks only on publicly owned land or designated access sites.
  • Anticipate changes in the weather. Early morning fog is common. Use common sense and caution.

For more information on paddling the Les Cheneaux Islands, contact Woods and Water Ecotours, an outfitter with all your adventure needs, offering kayak and canoe rentals, guided tours and lessons with American Canoeing Association certified instructors.

Download map from this page: Les Cheneaux Islands

The Les Cheneaux Water Trail was developed by citizens of Les Cheneaux, with assistance from the Rivers, Trails and Conservation (RTCA) program of the National Parks Service. Additional partners included Kent Hamel, the Les Cheneaux Islands Association, The Nature Conservancy, Les Cheneaux Community Foundation, and the Les Cheneaux Chamber of Commerce and Les Cheneaux Islands Area Tourist Association. 

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Upcoming Events

Visit the Calendar Page at for event dates and times! 


Weekly Events:

All Year: Story & Craft Time at Les Cheneaux Community Library, 10:30 am, Cedarville

All Year: Les Cheneaux Farmers & Artisans Market, 10 am to 2 pm, Hessel School House, Hessel






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