Red Cedar River Water Trail

Canoers on the Red Cedar River during fall
Photo credit: Mikayla Temple

Area Rotary clubs are spearheading a community initiative to preserve and protect the Red Cedar River and to develop the Red Cedar River Water Trail into a regional recreational asset for residents and visitors to mid-Michigan. In the same way that the Lansing River Trail has become one of the state’s best land trail networks, the Rotary clubs hope to develop the Red Cedar River Water Trail into a similar recreational destination for canoe and kayak enthusiasts. Along its route, the Red Cedar River Water Trail showcases the diversity of mid-Michigan landscapes from farms and forests in the upstream segment though suburban areas with an abundance of parks and recreation areas downstream.

Just above Michigan State University the water trail runs alongside the new campus to Lake Lansing trail extension, before traversing spectacular campus vistas then paralleling the Lansing River Trail through the urban environment of downtown Lansing as it extends onward to the confluence with the Grand River. All told, the Red Cedar River Water Trail runs 25 miles from Williamston to the Rotary Park on the Grand River in downtown Lansing.

When complete, the water trail itself will contain a series of canoe and kayak launch sites allowing for varying distances of paddle trips and the opportunity to experience more than a dozen parks and natural areas.

To achieve their goal and make the river more attractive and usable for river users, the Rotary clubs have established a series of Adopt-A-River segments focused on specific localized needs, such as enhancing launch sites, removing logjams, and cleaning up trash from the river and riverbank. In addition, the Rotary clubs are installing information kiosks at launch sites and developing online resources to provide information related to the water trail and how to plan a safe paddle trip.

Ultimately, the Rotary clubs plan to partner with the Middle Grand River Organizations of Watersheds (MGROW) to seek formal designation from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a state designated water trail.

To showcase the Red Cedar River Water Trail, the Rotary clubs and their partners are planning the first annual River Day Celebration and Red Cedar River Run, which will allow river enthusiasts an opportunity to paddle all or a segment of the Red Cedar River Water Trail. The date for the event is September 30, 2023. This community paddle event will provide an opportunity for the general public to get out on the river and try out the water trail. Anyone interested in assisting with the development of the water trail or the River Day events can contact John Bollman at:

In addition, there are several Red Cedar River cleanup days scheduled. For more information on how to help, visit: