Clinton - W. Avon Road (at Livernois) to E. Avon Road (Yates Dam) (5 miles)

Clinton, Michigan, US


W. Avon Road (at Livernois) to E. Avon Road (Yates Dam) (5 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (varies with level)
Length 5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 16 fpm

Redboat Tom blasting thru Rochester rapid - high water

Redboat Tom blasting thru Rochester rapid - high water
Photo of Redboat Tom by Rich G taken 01/13/13 @ high runnable

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04161000 150 - 1000 cfs I-II(III) 00h50m 126 cfs (too low)
Low/boatable. Gauge (123 sq.mi. drainage) lies upstream of this reach, and may slightly understate flow, especially by later part of this reach.
usgs-04161820 200 - 2000 cfs I-II 00h50m 216 cfs (running)
Probably low to moderate flows. We need your input! Please add a comment or report about best flows here! Gauge (309 sq.mi. drainage) is downstream of this reach so might slightly lag and exaggerate actual flow in reach.

River Description

Mostly flatwater/swiftwater in-town float, but there are a couple good rips. Be very aware of the dam at Yates, which should be portaged by most paddlers at most flows. This is a classic 'killer low-head dam', and has killed unwary paddlers who underestimated the recirculating backwash.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-23 02:30:05

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
3.5Stony Creek ConfluenceN/APlayspot
4.8DAM! Portage!N/APortage

Rapid Descriptions

ledge/wave (Class I, Mile 2.1)

Just past the confluence with Paint Creek, look for a fine little ledge/wave.

DAM! Portage! (Class N/A, Mile 4.8)

Plan on scouting and portaging at this dam. People have died misjudging the danger here! That said, at some flows this dam may be safely run by suitably experienced paddlers, with proper precautions and careful assessment of the backwash. Have someone with a throw-rope (and the knowledge of how to use it) on shore. We do not need more deaths in classic 'low-head dams' such as this one.

Pay special attention to the boil-line below the dam as a canoe runs the dam in this video. Be aware that a shorter boat (like a play kayak) will not 'bridge' the drop nearly so well, and is more likely to get caught in the reversal!

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 20 2013 (1977 days ago)
Lawson29 (155850)
Ran Avon / Livernois to Yates Cider Mill, 8-3-13, upper gage @ 1.5, Getting shallow but still fun,
2 short portages. Ran it again 8-10-13 and 8-17-13. Upper Gage @ 1.2 Water very low. Had to pay
attention to not drag bottom. Got better after Paint Creek. Ran Ryan Rd / S. of 22 mile to Heritage
Park, 8-24-13. "Lower" Gage around 7.5 ft. Low and slow. Ran Heritage Park to Clinton River Park
(Clinton River Rd. & West of Schoener) 8-25-13, Lower Gage at 7.5, Very calm stretch. Look out for
wood. 4 portages to Dodge park. 7 portages from Dodge to Clinton River park. Almost all portages
were difficult with the steep banks. Luckily there is a paved bike/hike trail on the left side of
the river for much of this section. Bring bug spray!!! Here are the USGS links for gages and
discharge. Upper (Auburn Hills to Yates) Lower (past Yates)
August 12 2013 (1985 days ago)
btcriverman (155818)
paddled on 2013-08-3 River level was 1.5 ft @ auburn hills gauge. 1.3 ft is considered the minimum
acceptable level. My novice 13 year old son had trouble with shallows and current in the beginning
segments. Earlier in the year, in mid june, I took my novice 15 year old son @ 2.25 ft and it was
much easier with the only portage being Yates Dam. Far less shallows to contend with. Trip from
avon / livernois to Riverbend Park (Ryan between 22 & 23) required 8 portages and took 3-1/2 HR in
lieu of typical 2 HR. Check with local livery concerning portage conditions before embarking.
April 19 2013 (2100 days ago)
Rich GuilbaultDetails
There is no wave at the Stony creek conf. The 'sweet wave' is just below the Paint creek conf.
'Voodoo rapid'
January 29 2013 (2180 days ago)
Rich GuilbaultDetails
This stretch actually runs thru Rochester(Hills) mi. We use the Auburn Hills Gauge for flow
readings. 1.3 is min. ( Aprx 70 cfs.) Above 3.0 (Aprx 500cfs) is considered flood stage. This gives
the most accurate levels for the stretch. Its some distance above the other gauge. One of the best
rivers in SE Michigan. Paint Creek being the other.