Abigail and Justin Davis usher in a new era at Borchers Canoe & Kayak, the beloved bed and breakfast and outfitter on the Au Sable River in Grayling.

This article first appeared in Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine. Find this article and more when you explore our digital issue library. Want Traverse Magazine delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

For years, Abigail Davis and her family made the four-hour drive from their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Grayling, Michigan. The destination: Borchers Canoe & Kayak.

The trips to the riverside B&B began in high school, and like so many others, “We loved it so much it became an annual tradition,” Abigail says. More than a decade later, Abigail and her husband Justin still make the trek to Borchers; only now, it’s home, and it’s just a walk across the lawn.

Abigail and Justin Davis of Borchers Canoe & Kayak

Photo by Dave Weidner

Borchers has been a destination for paddlers on the Au Sable for nearly 90 years, since opening in Grayling in 1936. The business has only passed hands four times, with its most recent owners, Mark and Cheri Hunter, running it for 30 years. Abigail and Justin got to know the Hunters on their yearly visits, and when Mark and Cheri were ready to retire, the Davises knew they wanted to steer the boat. The purchase was finalized in December 2021 and the couple has been settling into their role as innkeepers over the winter.

Guests know the charm of the place, but if you haven’t visited before, picture this: a quaint, four-room B&B tucked on nearly two acres with 130 feet of water frontage and an on-site livery. The two larger rooms overlook the river and each has a second-story balcony that’s a treat on warm evenings. There’s a big yard with picnic tables and fire pits. Breakfasts are served family-style, the table set in front of a wood-burning fireplace. You can spend a few hours paddling then walk six blocks to downtown and grab a bite or brew. “It’s a nice little getaway,” Justin says. “Hit the river and nearby Hartwick Pines State Park. Then take a day trip to Traverse City or Mackinac Island.”

Abigail and Justin Davis of Borchers Canoe & Kayak

Photo by Dave Weidner

If you don’t want to spend the night but are looking for a beautiful paddling day trip, Justin and Abigail recommend the eight-mile stretch between Borchers and Burtons Landing. It takes between two and two- and-a-half hours to paddle, is very family-friendly and it’s easy to stop along the way for a picnic or to use the restroom. The Borchers team will pick you up at the end and take you back to your car. There are plenty of options for longer paddles, including multi-night camping trips, too.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Abigail says. “We were just talking the other night about the guests that we’ve had so far. You know, we are lucky enough to meet people from all different walks of life and all different places. It’s so interesting to hear people’s stories and what they love about Borchers.”

Book a room or view a handy river map on the official Borchers website.

Abigail and Justin Davis of Borchers Canoe & Kayak

Photo by Dave Weidner

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner