A Paddler’s Perspective by The Voyage of Discovery Crew

by The Voyage of Discovery Crew
Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

canoeing on the Muskegon River in the Newaygo Area

Paddlers on the Muskegon River in the Newaygo Area

As the story goes, a group of veteran paddlers met for refreshments one evening at the Sportsman’s Bar and Grill in Newaygo.  Wayne Groesbeck and I represented the board of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly. Joining us were good friends who shared our warm regard for the Muskegon.  John Krause and Carl Malsom from Newaygo were both at the table that evening and most who were present give Carl credit for the idea: “Why don’t we organize a trip all the way down the Muskegon from the source to the mouth?”  

So we did. This was the first Voyage of Discovery, a 10-day journey that had a lasting impact on everyone who made the trip. We all thought we were familiar with the river but we did not really know the Muskegon until we paddled every inch of it. We came away with a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty of one of Michigan’s great rivers and a renewed commitment to do whatever we could to protect it.

Since that first trip, we have gathered the team together each year to paddle a different branch or tributary within the watershed. Each trip revealed new scenery and a different aspect of the river system. There was something to learn each time.

When we met to plan this year’s trip, it occurred to us that it would be nice to share the experience with more paddlers, maybe introduce some newcomers to the joy of paddling the Muskegon River. With that in mind, we chose the Croton to Newaygo section of the river. It is a fairly short and easy paddle but one of the most scenic stretches.  In other words, suitable for paddlers of all skill levels so we were hoping to recruit some new folks to share the adventure.  

Muskegon River Watershed Assembly New Director George Heartwell and his grandson Gabe ready to launch for Family Fun Paddle

Muskegon River Watershed Assembly New Director George Heartwell and his grandson Gabe ready to launch for Family Fun Paddle

We were very pleased when a group of 46 paddlers met at the parking area at Croton Dam at about 10:00AM on Saturday June 11. We were gratified to see several new faces in the group.  It was a beautiful summer day, with temperatures in the eighties and no sign of the heavy weather that the forecasters had threatened. Our destination was Ed Henning Park in Newaygo and our only goal was to enjoy the day and help people understand why the MRWA works so hard to protect the resource.

Mission accomplished!  It was great to hear all the remarks about the beauty of the river and what a precious resource it is.  I am sure everyone would agree that the Muskegon River is a gem that is worth preserving.  

If you missed this year’s paddle, stay in touch. We hope to make it an annual event. For those who participated, thank you. We sincerely hope you enjoyed your day and look forward to see you on the river sometime soon.

Of course, comments are always welcome. We would love to hear from you and are always open to suggestion on how to make next year’s event better for everyone.  To learn more about the organization, visit us online at www.mrwa.org.

Wayne Groesbeck board member for Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Wayne Groesbeck board member, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Special thanks to two valued partners who were instrumental in the success of our day.

Wisner Rents Canoes in Newaygo offered a real bargain on canoe rental and transportation. Newaygo County Parks and Recreation provided free parking and waived all fees for the use of their launch facilities at Ed Henning Park. Overall, it added up to a very affordable day on the river.