It doesn’t get better than a summer paddle in Northern Michigan. Head to Cedar River Preserve to get up close and personal to this undisturbed wetland with more than 250 flora and fauna to take in.

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

The Cedar River is one of those singular, serene places where paddling feels like an expedition. Zippy whirligig beetles and unhurried turtles carve ripples among the yellow pond lilies, while a chorus of chirping green frogs and swamp sparrows echoes through the fen.

Known as “Northern Michigan’s Everglades,” this 548-acre undisturbed wetland within the Solon Swamp is protected by the Leelanau Conservancy, and it’s one of the wildest, most fragile places left in the state. The preserve is a haven for a world that often goes unseen—soaring sandhill cranes, scarce carnivorous plants like sundew, rare Saturniid moths dancing in the moonlight. And with almost no current, the river allows leisurely paddlers to soak in the fauna and flora (more than 260 species)—keep an eye out for a mischievous mink or muskrat playing among the cattails.

Getting There | To access this otherworldly water trail, launch at Cedar Village Park or Lake Leelanau, or check out the new 1.4-mile trail—Ingraham Preserve at Cedar River—that will open to hikers in August.

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown