Canoe to Turnip Rock – Five Things to Know
One of the most amazing sites in the Upper Thumb is to canoe Turnip Rock. Carved over time by the force of constant wave action the soft limestone has been shaped to its namesake and separated from the mainland over thousands of years. CNN called it one of the Most Amazing Rock Formations in America and Pure Michigan featured it on its 2016 magazine cover. International travelers coming into Detroit Metropolitan Airport see Turnip Rock as their first view of Michigan’s wonder scenes coming into customs. It’s a marvel to behold and it’s an easy trip if the conditions are right.
This small guide offers a local point of view to avoid problems with the local law enforcement and property owners while being able to enjoy a unique natural wonder.
Turnip Rock is an Easy Paddle
Turnip Rock is on Private Land
Despite its remote location and uniqueness as a natural wonder, this rock formation is surrounded by private land. Thus the only way to access it is from the water. Fortunately, that can easily be achieved by canoe or kayak. Check out Port Austin Kayak for rentals and information on current local conditions. This means that you can’t go feet dry. Stay in the water. If you must get out of our kayak stay as close to the water’s edge as possible. (Unless its an emergency)
Paddling Near the Rock on Busy Weekends
During the weekends the number of paddlers can get quite large. If the area around the rock is crowded consider paddling a few hundred yards past and view the overhangs and cave features that border the Pointe Aux Barques community. During the late 1800s the cave were hideouts for fugitives. It’s worth taking a few minutes to explore. You may be tempted to get out of your kayak and climb the rocks for a view. This is a no-no and there are several signs reminding not to trespass. (IMHO these signs are obtrusive, and possibly illegal as they are posted under the high watermark of Lake Huron)
Heed Weather and Travel Time
Plan on 2-3 hours total travel time to Turnip Rock from Port Austin. This assumes that the winds and lake are calm. You will paddle north-east along the shallow coastline until you see the small cliffs that mark the start of Pointe Aux Barques. If the wind is strong and the there are waves it’s a wise idea to defer to another day. Novice paddlers have been pushed by southern winds out into the lake requiring assistance or rescue.
Can I Climb on Turnip and Fingernail Rocks?
Despite numerous YouTube and other postings showing people climbing all over the rock formation, you are urged to not to. The shore formations above the high water mark are private land. People have been hurt trying to climb it and arrested for trespass. Also, the stone is rather fragile and prone to breakage and collapse. The best way to mark your visit is to capture the rock formation with digital photos of you and your peeps in unique light and weather. Stay wet and wild and get a great shot from the water.
What to Bring on Your Kayak Trip to Turnip Rock
Life jacket, Sunglasses, sunscreen, small towel, cell phone, and a dry bag. Bring water and something to munch on. Water shoes are also highly recommended. It’s not a strenuous trip but winds and weather can make it a challenge for the unprepared.
Leave No Trace Around Turnip Rock
Leaving no trace is everyone’s responsibility. When you canoe turnip rock, remember to minimize your impact so it can be enjoyed for the next generation. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out)
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors as you canoe Turnip Rock
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