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Safety/portage notice for paddlers near Boardman River Weir

June 19, 2020

If your plans include kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding near the Boardman River Weir in Grand Traverse County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants people to be aware of how the rising Lake Michigan water level has created hazards for water enthusiasts on the river.

This stretch of the Boardman River runs through downtown Traverse City and draws a lot of paddlers. Normally, paddlers were able to get past the weir either by using the portage platforms located upstream and downstream of the weir, or by paddling under the weir structure between the supports when the grating was removed.

Since Lake Michigan water levels influence the level of the lower Boardman River – and the water level there currently is quite high – the available clearance to pass under the weir is greatly reduced. Additionally, the portage platforms are slightly underwater, so new signage has been installed to help guide paddlers to the correct locations.

Paddlers are urged to pay attention to these signs that point out where to safely exit and enter the river around the weir structure. The platforms are still the best overall option because people can paddle their boats up onto the platforms and then easily lift the boats out of the water. Passage under the weir is strongly discouraged because of the safety risks.

Earlier this week, the DNR issued a release highlighting high water levels and associated risks throughout the state.

Learn more about the Boardman River Weir at For the latest on the effects of high water and safety tips, visit

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos showing an aerial view of the Boardman River Weir and one of the portage signs are available below for download./

Boardman River Weir - aerial view

Boardman River Weir - portage sign