Flint River Water Trail

The Flint River Water Trail (FRWT) is a 73 mile water trail that provides a variety of recreational experiences and opportunities by connecting users to natural, cultural, and historic features along a safe and accessible river trail. It brings about awareness for stewardship of the Flint River and surrounding lands. The water trail crosses through two counties, natural areas, an urban core, and is available to the hundreds of thousands of residents within an hour’s drive.

photo: Richfield Park to Mott Lake Paddle with the FRWC

Length: 73.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: National Water Trails Syst
Agency: Nonprofit
Entry Fee? No
     Walleye Pike Boat Launch and Bluegill Boat Launch Resident Annual Pass—$34.00 Non-Resident Annual Pass—$50.00 Resident Senior Annual Pass—$25.00 Non-Resident Senior Annual Pass—$40.00 Daily Vehicle w/Trailer—$10.00 Senior Daily Vehicle w/T

Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Boating, Motorized
Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Boating, non-motorized: Rafting
Boating, non-motorized: Sailing
Boating, non-motorized: Tubing
Heritage and History
Ice Skating
Swimming: Diving/Snorkeling
Swimming: Wading
Wildlife Observation


See more details.


Location: Begins in City of Lapeer, southwest portion of Lapeer County and ends in Montrose Township, northwest Genesee County.
State(s): Michigan
Counties: Lapeer, Genesee
Longitude: -83.693875
Latitude: 43.018628

Driving Directions

Twenty-four access points from the City of Lapeer to Montrose Township. The water trail is accessible from M-24, M-15, I-69, I-475, and I-75.


The Flint River Water Trail (FRWT) is a 73 mile water trail that provides a variety of recreational experiences by connecting users to natural, cultural, and historic features along a safe and accessible river trail. The FRWT provides many opportunities for recreation, education, and economic revitalization, and increases stewardship of the Flint River and surrounding lands. It crosses through two counties, eight land managing entities, natural areas, an urban core, and a lake and reservoir. The water trail is available to almost 500,000 residents across Genesee and Lapeer Counties (U.S. Census Quick Facts) and hundreds of thousands more within an hour’s drive. The FRWT’s proximity to other national water trails, including the Huron and Island Loop, and other self-declared water trails is a great advantage to the region.

Goals for the FRWT are to:
•Promote and improve river access sites and user experiences
•Inform and educate the public on topics related to river health and safety
•Support local and regional efforts to increase water based recreation and tourism
•Enhance partnerships among water trail landowners
•Preserve and protect river resources for future generations
•Increase connections between communities, public lands, and land trails
•Secure long-term sustainability for the water trail
•Showcase positive features of the Flint River

The Flint River is home to a variety of wildlife including bald eagles, ospreys, frogs and turtles, muskrats and a wide variety of fish. It is one of the top three walleye fisheries in Michigan and known by many anglers to be one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the state, even gaining national attention from trophy anglers. The FRWT is connected with the Flint River Trail and the Southern Links Trailway along much of its path and to other existing shorter paths in parks and natural areas close to water trail access sites, such as the Flushing Riverview Trail and the Linear Park Pathway in Lapeer. The Flint River Trail and Southern Links Trailway are considered vital connections for Michigan’s statewide Iron Belle Trail.

A diverse array of partners are engaged in the development of the FRWT including eight communities, the Flint River Watershed Coalition, Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission, Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission, and Flint River Corridor Alliance. The FRWT project partners have worked to establish a “FRWT Partnership,” with a vision to provide the public with a safe and accessible water trail. It is a formal relationship between members that allow them to speak with one voice for mutually agreed upon goals.

Archaeological sites along the Flint River indicate Native Americans hunted mastodon, mammoths, caribou, and other now extinct animals on the plains and marshes along the Flint River during the Paleo-Indian Period, approximately 10,000 years ago. The Flint River has a rich cultural history of Native American and early European settler influence. Native Americans called the river, Pewonigowink meaning “river of fire stone” or river of flint (Flint River Assessment, 2001). The river was used as the main method of transportation for the natives and early settlers who made their homes along the banks of the river in what is now known as the City of Flint. This area became a major hub for fur-trading, lumber milling, and eventually agriculture. As the need for lumber grew many posts along the river were established. The Flint River passes through the City of Flint, a historic landmark for the automobile industry. Flint is known as “Vehicle City” the birthplace of General Motors and the United Autoworkers of America (UAW). Throughout the years Flint has been through many changes. With the industrial manufacturing sector pulling out of much of the area the community is seeking economic revitalization through new businesses, educational institutions (i.e UM-Flint, Kettering, Michigan State) and redevelopment and restoration of former industrialized properties like Chevy Commons, East Boulevard Remediation Site, and the Flint River Restoration Project.

Flint is the population center of Genesee County where over fifty percent of residents belong to a minority and/or underserved population, (U.S. Census, Quick Facts, 2015). The recent and tragic drinking water crisis in Flint has resulted in significant and unwanted negative scrutiny of the river. The Flint River Watershed Coalition and other partners state unequivocally that improper treatment of the water, rather than the health of the river itself, is what sparked the suite of issues with Flint’s drinking water. The failure to properly treat the water, coupled with failure of local, state, and federal agencies to take action, has harmed citizens and our invaluable freshwater resource. A hashtag slogan along with educational information and testing results in support of the river were created as a response to the crisis to let people know it’s not the fault of the river (#itsnottheriver).

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: Water, moderate moving
Water, slow moving
Water, still
Grass or vegetation
Rock, boulders
Rock, smooth
Snow or ice

Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Brochure
Brochure: Brochure
Brochure: Brochure
Brochure: Brochure
Google Map File: Google Map File
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Map: Map
Other: Other
Other: Other
Other: South Branch Flint River Obstruction Removal Project - 11th Annual Summary Sheet from Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
Other: Other
Other: FRWT Management & Development Guide - Does not include the FRWT Access Site Maps 1,2, & 3, due to their size and inability to upload.
Other: FRWC Paddles Program Attendees 2009-2016, shows major increase in participation for the program.
Other: Excel spreadsheet
Other: Spreadsheet
Website: Flint River Water Trail
Website: Flint River Water Trail

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Sondra Severn
Stewardship Programs Manager
Flint River Watershed Coalition
1300 Bluff St.
Suite 114
Flint, MI 48502
[email protected]



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Trail Managers: please use the official NRT update form to update your trail for any of the following changes:

  • Change in trail mileage through trail extension
  • Change in trail mileage through trail retraction
  • Change in trail mileage through significant trail reroute
  • Change to trail name
  • Change in trail description or use
  • Undesignation of trail (removal of NRT designation status)
  • Other significant updates

>> Download the official NRT update form.

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