friends@therouge.org | 734-927-4900 | Fax: 734-927-4920

Lower Rouge River Water Trail Events

Because any in-person contact risks spreading the disease, Friends of the Rouge requires all participants to abide by the following procedures until further notice.

  1. All volunteers must pre-screen themselves prior to their participation.
  2. Face coverings must be worn unless fully vaccinated
  3. Six-foot distancing must be maintained.
  4. Any change in health status within 14 days of the event must be reported back to Friends of the Rouge.
  5. Sign our waiver.

Paddling Trips

Come Paddle with Us!

2022 Lower Rouge River Water Trail Paddle Trip Schedule

If you are an experienced paddler, or if you have never paddled before, we’ve got a trip for you! Don’t miss your chance to paddle the Rouge!


Thank you to all who participated in the Friends of the Rouge 2022 National Canoe Day Celebration. “We had an awesome turnout, said Herman Jenkins, Friends of the Rouge Trails Manager. “Thank you to Motor City Canoe and Kayak who provided livery services for today’s event and to and all FOTR staff and volunteers for helping ensure a safe and exciting paddling experience for everyone. There were lots of families trying a canoe or a kayak for the first time during our Demo Day and some of our veteran paddlers enjoyed the trip from Dearborn Hills Golf Course to the Ford Field Park Pond. We are thrilled to offer this opportunity for people to come and enjoy the Rouge.”

The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan was on hand to help uplift healthy food and fitness alternatives and NKFM volunteers assisted paddlers in and out of their boats at the pond. “The vegan food samples provided by VegMichigan were a refreshing treat and kids were excited to hold some of Michigan’s native birds presented by the Detroit Audubon Society,” Jenkins said.”We thank everyone who participated and look forward to next year.” Here are a few photos to enjoy!


Friends of the Rouge, Motor City Canoe and Kayak Rental, and Outdoor Afro teamed up for the Outdoor Afro Paddle Trip on the Lower Rouge River Water Trail, Saturday, July 16 Over two-dozen black and brown outdoor enthusiast met on the Rouge at Dearborn Hills Golf Course for this first time event. 

Outdoor Afro hosts events that bring people of color together to experience and enjoy outdoor recreation activities. “We had a great turnout,” said Candace Calloway, Event Organizer for Outdoor Afro Detroit. “The trip was awesome, so peaceful, and we had a great time.” As part of the Clean Boats Clean Waters grant program, Friends of the Rouge gave a presentation on Aquatic Invasive plants and marine life as well as the proper way to clean a boat before transferring from one body of water to another. Friends of the Rouge also raffled off a dry bag filled with goodies sponsored by Beaumont Health. “We’ve grown the number of paddle trips we’ve hosted this year and we couldn’t have been happier to build this event with Outdoor Afro,” said Herman Jenkins, Friends of the Rouge Trails Manager.  “It is our goal to create safe and equitable access to the Rouge. When people connect and have positive experiences with this river, they are more inclined to care about and protect the river. These events are built for fun, but we are also nurturing the next, Rouge Rescue volunteers, and rain garden owners, or woody debris workday volunteers. These events help grow the village.” Check out the photo highlights!


Friends of the Rouge hosted its annual Industrial Paddle Trip on Saturday, September 17.The trip was at capacity with a dozen paddlers on their first journey through the Industrial Channel. Paddlers met at Belanger Park in River Rouge and shuttled up to the Kessey Fieldhouse boat launch in Melvindale. Riverside Kayak Connection provided livery services, and opened the day with some basic paddling tips. Friends of the Rouge closed with a presentation on recognizing, preventing, and reporting invasive species. The team also uplifted the importance of  properly cleaning boats before transferring from one body of water to another to help prevent the spread of invasive species. 

Paddlers experienced all the channel has to offer: an array of Michigan wildlife, the one of a kind draw bridges, and even a freighter unloading along the shore near the I-75 underpass. The footings of the Gordie Howe International Bridge towers overhead as paddlers exited the Rouge into the Detroit River. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was truly amazing!” said Octavia Smith of Inkster, MI who also won the dry bag raffle. “It was challenging, but it was worth it. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.”


Friends of the Rouge hosted a a paddled trip on the open waters of Newburgh Lake and explored Michigan’s native bird species with Detroit Audubon. Over twenty paddlers enjoyed the unbelievable fall colors and counted over a dozen different bird species on the trip. Paddlers encountered mute swans, a belted kingfisher, trumpeter swans, yellow dumped warblers, red crowned woodpeckers, and a great blue heron to name a few. Livery Services were provide by Simple Adventures. Here are a few pictures to enjoy. 



Nearly 50 paddlers dared to experience the first ever Friends of the Rouge Lower Rouge Water Trail Haunted Paddle Trip. Motor City Canoe and Kayak Rental provided livery services and the event was sold out. Paddlers launched from Dearborn Hills Golf Course, some boaters were even dressed in costume. On their haunted journey, they discovered unique haunted scenes built along the shores and in anchored canoes along the route. When paddlers arrived at Ford Field Park they were greeted by a giant 10ft. skeleton. There was a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. There was also a painted pumpkin raffle.

“Special thanks to the City of Dearborn, Wayne County Parks, The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, Beaumont, Carbon Athletic Club, the Down River Delta Community Development Corporation, and the Hanson Gallery for their support in serving on the event planning team through our Lower Rouge Water Trail Leadership Committee,” said Herman Jenkins, Friends of the Rouge Trails Manager. “There is no way to do this without a team. We couldn’t be more excited than when we saw all the happy faces at end of this paddle trip.” 

"Dry Dock" Pop-ups!

Bringing The River Experience To Shore!

Friends of the Rouge and the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan have joined forces again to bring a river experience to an event near you! The Dry Dock Pop-ups will feature a real canoe, paddling essentials and safety tips, crafts for kids, a terrain model of the Rouge Watershed, and scheduled interactive activities throughout the day’s event. Come share your story about the Rouge River!


Congresswoman Rashida Talib enjoys the Dry Dock Pop Up Experience at the Inkster Farmer’s Market and a family hangs out in the canoe at the Inkster Taskforce Easter Egg Roll.

Friends of the Rouge and the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan are on a mission to promote equitable access to the healthy fitness and recreation opportunities connected blueway and greenway trails can offer communities. Friends of the Rouge is working with Wayne County Parks and other community stakeholders to build and enhance blueway and greenway trails in communities along the Lower Rouge River. Come learn more at a Dry Dock Pop-up near you! Check for more dates and locations throughout the summer!

Stay Tuned For Upcoming Dry Dock Pop Up Events!

Please Note

The water is generally safe for boating if there has been no heavy rain or snowmelt; swimming is not recommended.

The Lower Rouge River Water Trail is a consortium of interested groups and communities and is a project of the Lower Rouge River Water Trail Leadership Committee. Contact us through info@therouge.org.