Michigan's most common nickname is the Great Lake State because the state of Michigan borders 4 out of the 5 Great Lakes with a shoreline of 3,288 miles. With that being said, Michigan also has over 11,000 inland lakes. So it is only natural that you can find us on the water during the summer. One of the most popular summer water activities is kayaking. My favorite spot to kayak? Turnip Rock, which is located in Port Austin, MI on Lake Huron.
Let's first talk about Turnip Rock. Turnip Rock is a geological rock formation that is off the coast of Lake Huron in shallow waters near Pointe Aux Barques. In fact, this rock is one of the most popular things to see in the area. But the only way to access this geological gem is by water. The most popular way to see Turnip Rock is by kayaking!
So now that you have seen photos of Turnip Rock and it has made your Michigan Bucket List, your next question is where is it located and how can you get there? Don't worry, your girl Kayla has all of the details so you can have the perfect summer day on the water!
Turnip Rock is located in Port Austin, Michigan which is located at the tip of "The Thumb." Port Austin is approximately 3 hours from the Metro Detroit area, which is the perfect location for a weekend getaway or a day trip to enjoy some fun in the sun. I personally prefer the second option. So if you are deciding to make a day out of it, I suggest leaving early to be one of the first ones on the water to enjoy your full day at Turnip Rock and around the small town of Port Austin.
Kayaking to Turnip Rock is one of the most popular things to do while visiting Port Austin and unmistakably one of the best activities on Lake Huron for kayakers. The journey to Turnip Rock is approximately 7 miles round trip. Yep, you read that right, 7 miles! But don't worry, you will be happy that you made the journey! So let's talk about the journey to Turnip Rock. The kayaking trail to Turnip Rock sends you along the shallow, crystal clear waters of Lake Huron. Not only will you have beautiful coastal views to your right, your left will reveal the beauty of Lake Huron. The kayaking trail to Turnip Rock is a fairly easy straight forward trail, which is perfect for all kayaking skill levels. But, please keep in mind that the difficulty of kayaking to Turnip Rock depends on the roughness of the water and the wind. For example, if you need to paddle against the wind or the water is rough, your journey to Turnip Rock will be slightly more difficult than perfect paddling conditions such as no wind and calm waters. So please note all the conditions and your skill level before deciding to kayak to Turnip Rock. You wouldn't want to be half way to Turnip Rock and expend all of your energy or to be put in an unsafe situation.
As mentioned before the kayaking journey is approximately 7 miles, which means it is 3.5 miles to Turnip Rock. The trail is straight until a bend along the shoreline takes your into this small alcove where Turnip Rock is located. Trust me when I say, you will NOT miss Turnip Rock and if you are kayaking in the dead of summer, this place will be packed with other kayakers so you won't miss it!
Now that you have made it to Turnip Rock, it is time to revel in it's beauty! Turnip Rock is surrounded by shallow clear waters, a small cave with an area to park your kayak to get out and stretch your legs. I would highly suggest getting out of your kayak to wade in the crystal clear waters and enjoy your summer day in the sun! Just please keep in mind the property surrounding Turnip Rock is privately owned, which is why kayaking is one of the only ways to see Turnip Rock. So please respect their property by not trespassing or littering! You wouldn't want to ruin this fun summer activity for other future and returning visitors!
What to Pack for your Day of Kayaking
Now let's talk about what I think you should bring along with you during your day of kayaking! The most obvious thing, is your swimsuit! You are going to be on the water, the sun will be shining and I know you will want to enjoy the crystal clear waters. So put that swimsuit on! Next item on the list is your sunscreen because skin cancer isn't cute and neither is looking like a lobster. Now here is an item you may not have thought of, water shoes. I recommend water shoes because Lake Huron can be rocky and you don't want to struggle walking along the stones, and if the water levels are low, there may be areas where you need to walk your kayak so just wear some water shoes to protect your toes. So you are going to want to take some epic photos of Turnip Rock and/or yourself, because let's face it we all need to get that perfect shot for Instagram, so make sure you bring your camera or phone. I personally brought my GoPro, phone and drone (check out my YouTube video here or at the end of the blog post to see how epic Turnip Rock looks like from the sky!). My GoPro goes everywhere with me that includes water because it's waterproof and made for the action. So I can get both video and photos without worrying about ruining an expensive camera. But if you are thinking of bringing electronics and worried about them getting wet, I highly suggest investing in a dry sack. I personally used my Osprey 3l Dry Sack to store all of my electronics and nothing got wet. The last two items is a small soft sided cooler with drinks (small enough to fit in a kayak) to stay hydrated and snacks because paddling 7 miles can work up an appetite!
Planning Your Trip to Port Austin
Guess What? Now it is time to plan your kayaking trip, how exciting! First things first, let's talk about the most important thing, KAYAKS! You have two options for kayaking, bring your own kayak to launch or rent a kayak. If you have your own, there are two different places to launch your kayak in Port Austin.
Bird Creek County Park
Port Austin State Harbor
If you do not have your own kayak, you can rent one with Port Austin Kayak. Port Austin Kayak is located at 📍 119 E. Spring Street, Port Austin, MI, which is right in the heart if downtown Port Austin. They provide you with kayak and SUP rentals. Kayak rentals cost $40-45 for a 4 hour rental, which is more than enough time to kayak the 7 mile round trip journey. Please keep in mind that double kayaks are not available to kayak to Turnip Rock. I highly suggest making a reservation prior to your arrival to ensure you have a kayak. During the summer months and weekends, they are known to sell out their kayaks. You wouldn't want to plan a trip to Port Austin and have all the kayaks reserved would you? No? Okay then just take the moment to reserve a kayak online.
One last thing to consider while planning your trip to Port Austin: The WEATHER! You wouldn't want to be on your way or make it to Port Austin and you are unable to launch your kayak because of the weather. This has happened to me personally on more than one occasion and trust me, it's not fun. As you know, Port Austin is on Lake Huron and like any body of water, the weather can change quickly and the waters can be too rough. Both of which can make for unsafe kayaking conditions. Your safety is the most important, so make sure you check the weather prior to your paddle. Port Austin Kayak also keeps you up to date on the weather and water conditions on their website and twitter. If the weather or water conditions are unsafe for kayakers, the company will inform you and give you two options: a full refund or change your reservation to a different date.
I hope you found this helpful in planning for your next trip to Port Austin to kayak to Turnip Rock. This is one of the best summer activities that you can do in Michigan and definitely something you should put on your Michigan Bucket List. If you have any further questions regarding Port Austin or kayaking to Turnip Rock, please check out my YouTube video that I have posted down below or feel free to leave me a comment. I hope you enjoy your time on the water and have a great day at Turnip Rock! Until our next adventure, keep wandering my friends!