Some stretches of the river are NOT for beginners!

When the river runs high, it carries with it a lot of woody debris that can block passage and create dangerous hazards.

Several sections, particularly between Dequindre Road in Rochester Hills and Van Dyke in Utica, should be paddled only by experienced kayakers. The lower river from Budd Park in Clinton Township downstream to Mt. Clemens is the best stretch for beginners. The upper river in the Chain of Lakes area in Oakland County is also good for beginners.Anyone wanting to paddle the Clinton River should understand that sections can be challenging and the water can run very fast and high, especially after a rain event.

You should always check the streamflow gage nearest to the area you are paddling to assess if the river is running high.

These basic safety tips will increase your chances of having a safe and enjoyable paddle on the Clinton River:

  • ALWAYS PADDLE WITH THE PROPER EQUIPMENT. Life vests, helmets, a whistle, a first aid kit and a phone are standard equipment.
  • NEVER PADDLE ALONE. Always paddle with at least one other person and do not become separated.
  • BE AWARE OF THE STREAM FLOW. Check stream flow at the USGS gauge nearest to your intended trip. Visually check stream flow before you embark— if the river is too fast for your comfort level, wait until it recedes.
  • BE AWARE OF THE WATER TEMPERATURE. Cold water is extremely dangerous. Learn about protecting yourself from hypothermia.
  • BE AWARE OF THE WEATHER. Conditions can change rapidly. Be aware of forecasts and do not go out during thunderstorms or other adverse weather events. Stay alert to changing weather conditions.
  • BE AWARE OF THE DAYLIGHT. Make sure you leave enough daylight to comfortably finish your trip.
  • BRING A SPARE CHANGE OF CLOTHES IN A DRY BAG. It is very likely you will get wet. Bring a spare change of clothes in a dry bag to avoid hypothermia.
  • WEAR RIVER FOOTWEAR. Protect your feet from sharp river rocks—always wear footwear.
  • KNOW HOW TO SWIM. Make sure you know how to swim before embarking on a river trip.
  • KNOW HOW TO GET HELP. To get help, dial 911. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and can communicate your position to emergency responders.