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. Sign our waiver.

Paddling Trips

Come Paddle with Us!

2023 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! Register below to join us for a paddle trip on the Rouge during the 2023 paddling season!

Logjam Workday at Colonial Park in Inkster a Success! 

Friends of the Rouge in partnership with the Inkster TaskForce hosted an Earth Day Logjam Workday in Inkster’s Colonial Park. Over a dozen volunteers came to help clean and open a logjam at the Colonial Park Bridge. Logjams on the Lower Rouge River Water Trail can be a dangerous hazard for paddlers. Cleaning and opening logjams to create safe paths for canoes and kayaks is an important element to maintaining a safe, open water trail. Thank you to all the volunteers who make this possible. Here are a few pictures to enjoy! 

Friends of the Rouge 2023 End of Winter Paddle Trip    

The 2023 End of Winter Paddle Trip lived up to its name with temperatures in the upper 20’s and snow flurries in the air! Paddlers enjoyed a self-return trip from ford Field Park in Dearborn, upstream and back. The hot chocolate, coffee, and donuts were a welcomed treat after a crisp paddle on the river. Paddling enthusiasts,and Friend of the Rouge, Michael Rudell shared one of his treasured finds on the Rouge, a Buddhist statue, dubbed the “Newburgh Lake Buddha.” It was a great way to connect with friends after a long off season. Here are a few pictures to enjoy! 

Spring Open Water Birding Paddle Trip – May 13, 9am – 12pm

Take an open water paddle on Phoenix Lake with Detroit Audubon and Friends of the Rouge and explore the bird species of the Rouge! Phoenix Lake, Plymouth, MI, Saturday, May 13, from 9am -12pm. Livery services will be provided by Simple Adventures. Boat rental is $45. Detroit Audubon will help guide our journey as we explore the of the birds of Phoenix Lake. Register today!


National Canoe Day Paddle Trip & Demo Day – June 24 9am – 1pm  

Experience a guided paddling trip on the Lower Rouge River from Dearborn Hills Golf Course to Ford Field Park, or if you’ve never kayaked or canoed before, learn to paddle for free on the Ford Field Park Pond. Metroparks will be partnering with Friends of the Rouge to provide free kayak rental to the first 25 paddle trip registrants. This is a spectacular way to see the river from a whole new vantage point and try a new skill.

Outdoor Afro Paddle Trip    July 15, 2023  9:30am – 12pm

Paddle from Commerce Court to the Morton Taylor Trailhead in Canton, MI on the Lower Rouge. Outdoor Afro is committed to creating unique outdoor recreation experiences for BIPOC communities. 

Industrial Paddle Trip    September 15, 2023  9:30am – 12pm

Paddle the Industrial Channel of the Rouge River beginning at Melvindale’s Kessey Field House and ending at Belanger Park in River Rouge on the Detroit River. See the original Ford Rouge Complex, one of a kind drawbridges and the new Gordie Howe International Bridge. 

Fall Open Water Birding Paddle Trip Newburgh Lake   October 8, 2023  9:00am – 12pm

Take an open water paddle on Newburgh Lake with Detroit Audubon and Friends of the Rouge. Explore the bird species of the Rouge! Phoenix Lake, Plymouth, MI.

Haunted Paddle Trip    October 21, 2023  10:00am – 1pm

Enjoy a Paddle the Rouge from Dearborn Hills Golf Course to Ford Field Park, and experience haunted sites, scenes, and screams! 


Friends of the Rouge is looking for experienced paddlers to support its planned paddle trips during the 2023 season to help ensure a safe and fun paddling experience on the Lower Rouge River Water Trail. To sign up, click the button below, or for more information contact: Herman Jenkins: Friends of the Rouge Trails Manager at hjenkins@therouge.org


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!

Dry Dock Pop Up at MDNR Paddle Sports Day!

Friends of the Rouge thrilled guests at Paddle Sports Day at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center in downtown Detroit. Paddle sports outfitters and trails programs shared safe paddling tips and opportunities to access the rivers in Southeast Michigan!

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.