The Dowagiac River Water Trail flows through rural southwest Michigan. The river is moderately paced. The Dowagiac River is the largest coldwater river system in southern Michigan. The river is lined with trees and wetlands and offers fantastic views of wildlife. The Dowagiac River also offers great fishing and is known for brown trout and its steelhead and salmon runs. Both Dowagiac and Niles have many restaurants and other amenities. There is a canoe/kayak rental business on M-51 north of Dowagiac offering 2-6 hour trips.
The trail starts north of Dowagiac and then the river connects to the St. Joseph River Trail in Niles. Scroll down to the map for river access locations. Please note that the condition of the river is always changing and logs may fall and/or move downstream creating new obstacles. At this time, the section below Dodd Park to Losensky Park has significant log jams and requires advanced paddling skills to navigate and may also require a long difficult portage. Always wear a lifejacket! There is one dam on the river at Pucker Street; however, this dam is slated for removal in 2019. The dam is located in a Niles City park (Losenksy Park) and portaging is possible. The MDNR access site along M139 just north of Niles is the last access site before entering the St. Joseph River.
Also check out the weather and safety information web page on this site for more information about responsible paddling. Most important, help us keep the River a beautiful, wild and thriving floodplain forest eco-system. Pack out ALL your trash and consider taking along a trash bag and picking up any trash you encounter along the river. Thanks and enjoy the river!
This is a private canoe livery that offers canoe trips on the Dowagiac.
This is a Niles CIty Park with access to the Dowagiac River.
MDNR access to the Dowagiac River