The Prairie River was a fun paddle. The water was clear and shallow, so we could see a variety of fish. It wound through bottomland forest with plenty of Silver Maples and Sycamores. (It should have some gorgeous fall color soon.) Shallow roots and wet soil meant a lot of deadfall across the river, so we needed to frequently maneuver around obstacles. This made the trip more challenging than many other local rivers, but it didn't get frustrating and we never had to get out of the kayaks to go around or over a barrier. (Thanks to Liquid Therapy outfitters who cut openings to keep the river runnable.)
The Prairie River is about a half hour drive south of Kalamazoo. We paddled from Centreville to Lutz Rd just south of Three Rivers, about six miles, in three and a half hours. Hoshel Canoe Park, about halfway through this section, off Hoshel Road, looked like another good place for a put-in or take-out. Most of the river feels very natural, with only the occasional house visible. There were a few farms, some with industrial-sized irrigation pumps, but mostly it was woods. There were some spectacular patches of Cardinal Flower in bloom.
(small park, just north of Centreville, plenty of parking)
550 Covered Bridge Road Centreville, MI 49032
Lutz Road takeout
(on the left, downstream of the bridge; roadside parking)
61298 Lutz Road (County Highway 126)
Three Rivers, MI 49093
[addresses are approximate]
Boat rental and spotting are available from Liquid Therapy 221 S. Main Street Three Rivers, MI 49093 269-273-9000
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.