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Detroit Heritage
River Water Trail

Trail News & Updates

Regional Vision

Phase One
Development Plan

Phase One
Interactive Guide






Detroit Heritage River Water Trail

In September 2006, Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) released plans for the Detroit Heritage River Water Trail, the first water trail planned for Southeast Michigan and the only one developed along a river designated by both Canada and the United States as a Heritage River. The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail is a river version of a greenway trail (or “blueway”) and will provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and small boat paddling. 

The water trail will increase water recreation, education, and entertainment opportunities – allowing for different kinds of experiences and trips. It is planned to take advantage of the resources of riverfront communities and link to greenway trails, museums and other cultural assets, restaurants and shopping opportunities, as well as other attractions. The water trail offers paddlers the opportunity to learn about the rivers’ distinctive wildlife, habitat, and heritage.

Detroit Heritage River Water Trail Regional Vision and Project Phases
The Regional Vision for Detroit Heritage River Water Trail is a network of recreational trails along the Detroit, Huron, Raisin, and Rouge Rivers.  It is planned to encourage small boaters to recreate and experience the natural, cultural, and historic resources offered along these routes.

The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail is divided into several phases.  A first phase is identified for beginning project implementation, and subsequent phases for potential future development.   The subsequent phasing does not imply a chronological order of development, but a logical organization of sections that might be developed.  Ideally, these phases will be used as a starting point by local municipalities and/or grassroots organizations. The map to the right illustrates the preliminary phasing plan for the water trail.

The first phase provides sufficient detail to allow community partners to begin implementing a portion of the trail and lays the foundation for subsequent expansion. It was selected based upon the abundant natural beauty of the area, the wide diversity of paddling experiences found along the way, and the strong interest of communities and partners in moving forward. The first phase can serve as a demonstration project for subsequent phases of the water trail. 

View the Water Trail
Click on the Regional Vision and Phase I Plans below for more details.









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>> Download the PDF poster (20.8 MB)

Next Steps
The Regional Vision and Phase I Plan are the first steps in realizing the Detroit Heritage River Water Trail. Next steps include incorporating the plan in local recreation and master plans, acquiring funding for launch site amenities, developing strategies and methods for interpreting and communicating historical, cultural, and natural features, and establishing management and maintenance arrangements.

The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail Project was undertaken by MAC as part of its Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative in cooperation with local governments as well as key stakeholders, including the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, Friends of the Detroit River, Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, Michigan Sea Grant, National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wayne County Parks.

In addition to MAC, financial assistance to plan the water trail was provided by the Michigan Coastal Management Program, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; DTE Energy Foundation; and Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative.


© 2012 Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC)