For some reason, whenever I thought of paddling the Kalamazoo River, I would drive east to Fort Custer and float the stretch from that recreation area to 35th Street. I never really considered canoeing from Kalamazoo. The river's industrial heritage, particularly its paper mills near Kalamazoo, may have contributed to my neglect, although most of the factories have closed and the sites cleaned.
This afternoon, we paddled a section of the river just north of the city limits, starting in Parchment (near the Mosel Avenue bridge) and ending about 5 miles downstream just past the D Avenue bridge. The trip took us about an hour and a half.
The riverbanks were wooded for most of the trip, with only a few buildings and two railroad bridges near the start. Otherwise it was very natural. The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail parallels the river for this section and the Kalamazoo Nature Center protects a good portion of the west bank. We passed turtles sunning on logs, muskrats and geese, and a big Blue Heron. The highlight was a Bald Eagle that flew right over us.
There's plenty of free parking along the river on Commerce Lane in Parchment. The boat launch at D Avenue is privately owned and welcomes canoes and kayaks and charges a small fee.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.