Community Trips and Tips

Kayaking Turnip Rock

By March 23, 2019 No Comments

Kayaking From Port Austin To Turnip Rock and Pointe Aux Barques

Put in – Kayak access point Bird Creek Park
Take out – Kayak access point Bird Creek Park
Distance  7 miles
Total trip time (including stops) 4 hours
Shore Line Mostly cliffs and rocky shoreline.  Some areas of reeds and aquatic vegetation growing in shallow water.  Small beach area at Turnip Rock
Water Conditions Clear, calm water
Type of paddling Open water paddling along shoreline

Paddling The Turnip Rock Trail From Bird Creek Park

I am so happy that I finally had the opportunity this past summer to paddle out to Turnip Rock.  At the time I was managing the newly formed pro staff team and social media efforts for Evoke Kayaks.  I had to make a trip over to the east side of the state to drop off two kayaks to a new pro staff member and one of the Detroit Red Wings players for work, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to head a few hours north on the way home and finally get out to Turnip Rock.  I was able to bring my two boys along with me which made the trip even more special.

Paddling Along Shoreline Cliffs

After arriving in Port Austin, we headed to Bird Creek Park which is operated by the Village of Port Austin.  The parking lot was not overly crowed which made parking with the trailer on much easier since I could park across two spots in the middle of the parking lot.  Had it been busier, we would have driven over to the public boat launch just to the West where they have dedicated trailer parking.

We were slightly behind schedule and part of me was concerned that we might not have enough daylight to get out and back.  So after quickly carrying our kayaks down to the beach, we wasted no time heading East along the shoreline.

The water was pleasantly clear during our paddle and we enjoyed being able to see all the rocks that were scattered across the lake bottom.  During the first 2/3 of the trip the shoreline is protected by rocky, shallow water areas with tall grasses and vegetation growing out of it.   About the time you pass to the south of Bird Island, the shore line starts to gradually rise above the the water forming beautiful weather beaten cliffs that you get to paddle along.

Shoreline Cliffs

Enjoying a few more minutes admiring the cliffs in the evening sunlight

Just before arriving at Turnip Rock you get to paddle under and around Thumbnail Rock with it’s impressive overhanging ledge.  There is a small beach area along the shore on the east side of Thumbnail rock.  The water here is shallow enough to allow you to get out of your kayak and walk around a bit to stretch your legs.

Thumbnail Rock

View of Thumbnail Rock with Turnip Rock in the background

We spent some time paddling around Turnip Rock taking pictures before taking a break on the beach and talking for a bit to several other kayakers that were there.  The one thing I noticed is that as the sun starts to set, Thumbnail Rock ends up casting a large shadow on Turnip Rock, making it hard to take really nice pictures from shore.  We’ll be going back this year, and when we do, we’re going to try a morning paddle and see what the lighting is at that time of day.

The boys next to Turnip Rock

Closer View of paddling under Turnip Rock

It turns out we had more than enough time for this trip.  It took a little over an hour to get there and after spending and hour or so paddling around the area and stopping on the beach, we headed back as the sun began it’s final decent to the horizon.  As much as I loved paddling along the cliffs and around Turnip Rock, the return paddle home ended up being my favorite part.  The lake laid down perfectly and the three of us had a very relaxed paddle back as we stopped often to watch the setting sun repeatedly appear and disappear behind the distant clouds on the horizon.

Paddling along the reeds as the sun sets

The boys watching the sun set

Final Thoughts:

This was an excellent trip that I highly recommend.  The water is relatively shallow for most of the trip which helps to minimize wave action in this area and more importantly, it prevents boats from traveling in this area which makes it much safer for kayakers.  I was concerned about launching right next to the harbor since I knew that we might be coming back after dark.  I don’t trust large boats on the great lakes to always see my anchor light at night.  Now that I’ve done the trip and know that boats can’t come very close to shore I’ll stay till sunset next time to get some better and more interesting pictures.  The paddle back to the beach at twilight was very  enjoyable and the peaceful paddle back ended up being my favorite part of a great trip.

I’d like to ask you to please share some of your kayaking knowledge with our community.  We want to make it as easy as possible for people to unplug and reconnect with nature.  If you know of a great place to paddle, a great trip to take or even certain water access points, please consider sharing your experiences on this site for our community to enjoy!

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