The Beaver Island Water Trail Experience Located about 30 miles offshore from the City of Charlevoix, Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan and the largest of the 14 islands that make up the Beaver Island Archipelago. At 56 square miles, Beaver Island is unique for many reasons, including a beautiful natural environment with plentiful sand dunes, beaches and wetlands, a distinctly diverse ecology, and a close-knit community with a proud Island heritage.

The Beaver Island Water Trail is a 42-mile (68 km) paddling trail that circumnavigates the entire Island. While some parts of the Island (such as Paradise Bay and inland lakes) are more family-friendly areas to paddle, most of the Water Trail is geared toward adventure paddlers who are comfortable paddling in the unpredictable conditions of Lake Michigan and accustomed to rustic access sites and overnight beach camping. If you are a novice paddler, consider a trip to the Island’s harbor or inland lakes, or consider hiring a paddling guide. 

WARNING Canoeing and kayaking on Lake Michigan can be dangerous. Serious bodily injury and loss of life can and does occur. Varying water conditions and depths, fallen trees, rocks, currents, waves and other phenomenon of Lake Michigan create constantly changing conditions and hazards. This book is provided only as a general guide and is not to be relied upon to identify all hazards. All distances are approximate. Prior to any paddling trip on the Beaver Island Water Trail, paddlers are strongly encouraged to check in and register at the Beaver Island Community Center.

Photo: Uncommon Adventures

Beginning Your Adventure

Click on the map to enlarge.

This Guide provides information to help you plan your trip along the Beaver Island Water Trail. All WaterTrail users are encouraged to register at the Community Center prior to beginning a trip.

Mile 0 is located two blocks south of the Community Center at Jewell Gillespie Park.

NOTE: Beaver Island continues to invest in signage and other access-site amenities. However, several access sites do not yet have signs, and amenities are minimal. Be sure to carry a working GPS unit and this Guide to properly locate access sites.

Photo: Uncommon Adventures