Choose your own adventure

Michigan’s vast systems of trails and waterways make it easy to stretch gently beyond your comfort zone.
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Kayak in sunset

When a Texas man wanted to plan the perfect outing for his father’s 60th birthday, he turned to Michigan outfitter Kevin Karpinski. The resulting itinerary combined some pedaling through forests and along ancient sinkholes, some paddling in glass-bottom kayaks over shipwrecks and some hearty microbrew samplings. 

kayakers viewBIKE-ROW-BREW excursions customized around a favorite Michigan microbrewery, stream or trail are an option offered by Karpinski at Green Planet Extreme Adventures. Based in Mackinaw City, the statewide company also tailors day trips and multiple overnight outings, based on where customers want to depart and arrive.

“What I’m discovering is that people want a sense of accomplishment,” says Karpinski, noting that most seek to stretch gently beyond their comfort zone. “Different skill levels are fine, since we offer instruction and guide services.”

Pre-packaged adventures are choices, too. Among them are a two-hour Arch Rock Paddle, Float & Snorkel Tour off Mackinac Island, whitewater kayaking on the Ocqueoc River and new White Hurricane Shipwreck Centennial Tour, a tribute to the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. While a seven-hour day trip includes paddling over six to eight Lake Huron shipwreck sites, shorter tours leave Mackinac City twice daily every Saturday and Sunday (see greenplanetextreme.com for details). 

Thumbs Up

In 2007, the 100-mile long Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail was created to connect White Rock, Harbor Beach, Port Austin, Caseville and Quanicassee in Huron County. With 34 launch and landing markers, this waterway invites exploration of towering rock formations, caves and stacks along the rugged shoreline. 

SOUTHEAST Highlight Credit Chris DoyleIt’s a perfect place to learn kayaking, says Chris Boyle of Port Austin Kayak, who rents equipment by the hour, day or week, as part of a custom tour or guided excursion. “Our kayaks are stable enough for beginners,” he notes, “while still providing tracking and speed.” 

Kayaks at sunsetThemed outings range from birding to yoga, while full moon and fireworks tours take paddlers out beneath the stars. Three-hour eco trips also are offered on Saturday mornings throughout the summer, with paddles out to Pointe Aux Barques. And on Aug. 3-5, the annual Kayak Rendezvous brings hundreds of recreationalists to Veterans Waterfront Park in Port Austin for a weekend of group paddles and other activities.

Learn more about these excursions and rental offerings including Stand-Up Paddle Boards and surrey bikes at portaustinkayak.com and thumbtrails.com.

— Kim Schneider and  Tai Alexander, Michigan BLUE Magazine. 

Photography courtesy Thinkstock

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