Dowagiac River Water Trail

The Dowagiac River is the largest coldwater river system in southern Michigan.

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The Dowagiac River Water Trail flows through rural southwest Michigan.  The river is moderately to fast 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.

Update: the dam at Pucker Street has been removed.  

The trail starts north of Dowagiac and then the river connects to the St. Joseph River Water 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 the former Pucker Street Dam site has significant log jams and requires advanced paddling skills to navigate and may also require difficult portages.  Always wear a lifejacket!  Be sure to stay off the river after rain events when flows may be really fast.  You can check the USGS gage for current conditions.   

The MDNR access site along M139 just north of Niles is the last access site before entering the St. Joseph River.  
You will notice that the Sink Road access site is no longer available, but the good news is that a new and improved access is located off Peavine Street!  
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!

Dowagiac River Water Trail Assets