With over 1.35 million people residing in the Rouge River Watershed, the river has the potential to offer paddling opportunities close to home. Water quality has improved enough in many areas to be safe for partial body contact while more work is needed in other areas. Logjams also pose a significant challenge.
FOTR is currently working with local partners who meet as a committee to develop a water trail on 29.25 miles of the Lower Rouge from Canton to the Detroit River. Much of the river corridor is protected within Wayne County Parks, making it ideal for the development of launches and amenities. Logjams block much of the route and current efforts are focused on keeping a route open within the City of Wayne. Downstream, logjams are less prevalent and paddling highlights the unique industrial history of the Rouge River with the massive Ford Rouge complex, suspension bridges and a freighter or two.Press HERE for the full map of the Rouge Water Trail
Paddling the Rouge River
- Organized Trips If you are new to paddling the Rouge River, one of the best ways to get to know the river is to join one of our fall group paddles.
- Paddling on your own: For an easy paddle, during the warm months Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental offers rental canoes and kayaks on the week-end at Newburgh Lake in Hines Park.
- Map and Information about paddling Check out our listing on the Michigan Water Trails website and plan your trip.
- Rouge River Paddling Guide Check out our brand new guide to paddling the Rouge River, created with assistance from the National Park Service. Get a printed copy at the FOTR office or local liveries and communities.
- Join our Facebook Paddling Group Stay updated on what routes are open and who is working and paddling where.
Before you Head out
- Think about safety: Do you have your pfd? Do you have a float plan and someone who knows you are out? Have you checked water levels (Lower Branch, Middle Branch, Main Branch) to make sure the river is not up more than a foot?
- Protect the river: Has your boat and gear been in another water body? If so, please follow these procedures before and after you paddle to prevent the spread of invasive species.
April 2019’s Lower Rouge River Water Trail Public Open House
Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) has been working on a strategic planning process to develop a water trail along the Lower Branch of the Rouge River. The water trail would begin in Canton Township and flow east for 27 miles through nine communities before it connects with the Detroit River.
At the April 11, 2019 Public Open House, we reviewed the plan with participants.
- View a draft of the Strategic Plan for the Lower Rouge River Water Trail
- Give your input, share your thoughts, have your say
- Connect with fellow river users and learn how to get involved