National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

The Island Loop Route water trail is the most popular blueway in St. Clair County. Begin at North River Road Park in Fort Gratiot Township. Get into the Black River easily by using the ADA (American Disabilities Act) accessible kayak launch. Head down river and then up the Black River Canal to the left, heading east. Enter Lake Huron after passing under the Taintor Gate and paddle to the right, or south. Glide past Lakeside Park and Lighthouse Park, then past the oldest Lighthouse in Michigan, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. Continue on by paddling under the Blue Water Bridges and along the international border with Canada while in the St. Clair River. It is here that you will be drifting over rare Sturgeon spawning habitat!
Stick close to the Michigan border where the current is more manageable, but watch out for fishing lines and diving activities close to the seawall. While in the big river you will pass the Thomas Edison Museum and the Huron Lightship Museum.

Enter the mouth of the Black River to the west, heading upriver through the City of Port Huron. You will pass a community college, a fire station, parks, restaurants and homes. Head back to River Front Park where your trip began. You can also begin and end at the new Bakers Field Park in Port Huron Township. They also have an ADA accessible kayak launch! There are seven public water access points along this ten mile route.

The Taintor Gate at the end of the canal closes automatically when there is a strong N-NE wind. It is rarely closed, but closure protects the canal from getting filled up with silt and sand. Boaters, check to see if the gate is open before attempting the Island Loop Route. The only way to check the gate is to drive by it on Gratiot Road to see if it is open.

Most of the waterways along this route are calm and slow, except near the Blue Water Bridges. This route is best attempted in the morning, before weekend recreational boating traffic creates rough paddling conditions.


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails: