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Back on Black Paddle Odyssey to help Black Mountain XC ski trails

Fri, May  11, 2012 - By Mike Muha

Michigan Cup cross country skier and competitve paddler Denny Paull and the Top of Michigan Trails Council are organizing an 18 mile Black Lake to Lake Huron Paddling Odyssey on Sunday, June 17, 2012.

All proceeds from the event will be used to help with maintenance and improvements of the more than 50km ski and non-motorized trails at Black Mountain.

Back to Black Paddling Odyssey canoe raceCourse Description

Vehicle parking and boat staging will take place at the Bluffs Restaurant and Bar (10905 High Bluffs Dr. Cheboygan, Mi 49721). After a mass start at 9:00AM, participants will travel 2.5 miles along of shoreline of the West end of Black Lake before entering the Black River. Paddlers will then travel downstream 6 miles to the Alverno Dam portage.

After an easy 150 yard portage, participants will resume their journey another 6 miles down the Black River where they will enter the Cheboygan River. 2.6 additional miles down the Cheboygan River will bring paddlers to the Lincoln St Dam portage.

Volunteers will be available to assist paddlers with a 260 yard portage of the Lincoln St Dam. Paddlers will travel a final 1 mile to Lake Huron. After a left turn around the Breakwall of the Cheboygan River, participants will complete their voyage by landing on the Gordon Turner Park beach.

Course Characteristics

The 2.5 mile Black Lake section of the course is usually wind sheltered. However, in the case of inclement weather or wind, Paddlers would be encouraged to follow the shoreline to the Black River. Shallow 3' water extends out approximately 100 yards along most of the shoreline of Black Lake to the Black River entrance point. Most of the Cheboygan and Black River sections of the course are characterized by high wind sheltering banks.

Little risk of boat damage due to shallow water exists. Most of the river sections are moderately deep with 1-2 mph downstream current. Paddlers will enjoy beautiful scenery as they travel through the rural Cheboyan countryside.

Upon entering the Cheboygan river, paddlers will travel through the residential and business section of the river. Once the portage of the Lincoln St. Dam is completed, faster 2-4 mph currents are present for a short stretch near Great Lakes Tissue plant. The final one mile of the course will have participants paddling under the newly constructed pedestrian bridge and the State St. Drawbridge in the heart of downtown Cheboyan. Various working barges, US geological vessels and finally the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw will be encountered before the finish at the Gordon Turner Park beach.


Shuttle service from either the Alvemo Dam portage, Lincoln St. Dam Portage 'or Gordon Turner Beach finish back to the Bluffs Bar start will be provided by Green Planet Extreme Adventures. Green Plant extreme ( operates independently from the race organizers and charges $20 for shuttling participants and their kayaks to the Bluffs.

Green Planet Extreme also offers kayak rental and can be reached at 517-242-4752. The phone number to use for shuttle service during the event is 906-723-0206. Camping sites are available at the Bluffs Resort. The Bluffs can be contacted at 231-625-8443. Further questions regarding the event should be directed to

Information For Competitive Paddlers

The organizers wish to stress that the Back on Black event seeks to appeal to both recreational tour paddlers looking for a challenge and competitive paddlers. Although the majority of the paddlers will be tour minded, some of the fastest kayak racers in Northern Michigan will be on hand for those seeking competition. Future Back on Black events (we hope to make this an annual event!) will likely have more defined categories, but to keep things simple for this year, below are the competitive categories:

  • Elite/unlimited - All kayaks 18ft long and longer(surf skis, fast sea kayak, K1 boats) and two person (C2) canoes
  • Recreational - All kayaks under 18 ft and one person canoes.
  • Stand Up Paddle Boards - All SUP lengths

Awards will be given to the top three finishers of each category. Awards will be distributed at the Bluffs Resort immediately after the event.


Preregistration before June Sth - $30.00 (Includes specially designed wicking material t-shirt)
Registration after June 8th - $35.00 (shirt not guaranteed)

Registration form (PDF).

Race day registration will be available at the Bluffs resort from 7:30 until 8:45. All participants must sign a waiver form on the morning of the event before being allowed to participate. Each participant must wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket and be in possession of a safety whistle.

Additional information will be available at