Paddle Antrim’s Newest Addition to Chain of Lakes Water Trail
Paddle Antrim has been working on establishing their Chain of Lakes Water Trail for five years.
“We’ve been working on this project since 2015,” said Paddle Antrim Executive Director Deana Jerdee. “It’s a labor of love, and we’re really excited to be where we’re at today.”
The Chain of Lakes Water Trail stretches 99 miles along 19 communities—12 lakes and their rivers connect the trail.
“The great thing about the Chain of Lakes is that it’s a flat water system of connected lakes,” Jerdee said. “You can go in different directions and there are lots of different ways you can experience the trail.”
Paddle Antrim recently put up access site signs, as well as trailhead signs, for those that are going to explore the water by kayaks, canoes, or stand up paddle boards.
“The installation of the signs is a really big part of the water trail,” Jerdee said. “In our mind, it kind of opens it up that people now have something visual to see when they’re out on the water.”
Signs are installed at all 84 access sites along the edge of the water so they are easily visible to paddlers.
Paddle Antrim has also installed larger signs at the trailhead points along the water route. Those have information on distances, access sites, and amenities.
“The signs also talk about stewardship and safety and other things that we as an organization feel are really important for people to know and to be thinking about when they’re on the water,” said Jerdee.
Jerdee saw firsthand how these signs will make a difference for paddlers traveling on the trail.
“I was in Bellaire last week just working on the signs and—while I was there—in 20 minutes three people had walked down to the access site and asked questions about ‘Where are we, what does the waterway look like?’ And I was able to just point to the sign and give them the information that they were looking for.”
Avid paddler Melissa West is part of an Elk Rapids Womens’ Paddle Board Club. She said the signs will make a big difference for her group, as well as those who are visiting.
“That’s always the hardest thing is planning your route and knowing where you can and can’t get off,” West said. “What Paddle Antrim has done with the signage is just incredible. I think that it’s just a benefit to have the way finding on the water that’s never been there before.”
The weekend of Sept. 18 would have been Paddle Antrim’s annual Paddle Antrim Festival but, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the group decided to cancel this year. Still, they are encouraging people to get out, enjoy the water, and donate. Donations made before Oct. 5 will receive a Paddle Antrim and Chain of Lakes Water Trail sticker.
“We’re inviting people this week to go out and paddle a part of the Chain of Lakes Water Trail,” Jerdee said. “Get out there and celebrate the fact that it’s a great time to be out on the water.”
Paddle Antrim is planning on hosting a grand opening in the spring to officially introduce the new signage.