Park at Gilkey Elementary School and take a hiking trail to the dam.
A decent hole for practicing surfs, spins, ferrys, squirts, and rolling.
See "Comments" for more information regarding best options to access this playspot.
Distance is what you'll paddle upstream in bypass channel to get to spillway.
'Distance' is total from listed put-in, paddling upstream to the playwave described, and then downstream to this feature/location.
Unknown how feasible play is here, or what levels may allow any/best play. Can anyone provide some info?
It appears (looking only at satellite photo, with no other first-hand awareness) that the dam spans one side of an island, and the river-left side may be free-flowing, and have a bit of a series of waves. At some flows, there may be some interest here.
Has anyone checked this out?
Good? No good?
This is really a fun little stretch of river. The "Swell" itself is very user friendly at most levels but legitimately requires some basic whitewater skills (ie. a roll) or swims may be expected. Highly recommend extending the run into downtown Plainwell. You should scout the drop from your boat as wood sometimes accumulates the dam.
Vid of me and my kids showing most of the run: http://vimeo.com/106343767
Oct 10 2010, the river is reopen. I am looking for people to paddle with, call me at 269
349-7934 Doug or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also put in at Darrow Park in Plainwell and paddle upstream to the spillway. Darrow Park is on Hicks St. in Plainwell. To get there from M-89 (going east): Turn right on Hicks just prior to crossing the Kalamazoo River. Go down about 1/4 mile. The park is on the left (just before Gilkey Elementary). It's a pretty easy paddle upstream -- just one or two slight riffles in your way -- maybe 10 minutes of paddling tops (it beats hauling a boat up the Gilkey Nature trail).
Noted a big tree blocking the dam at the end of last summer, be careful. On May 24 09 the tree
move to river left and the wave is surfing better then ever.
Interesting....There are acutally 2 good spots in plainwell here. the one that is by Gilkey elementary (follow Joel's description to get there) or the easier one to find at the Old Allegan Canoe rental parking lot. I personally perfer the one at Gilkey easier wave to surf. Both great spots!
Never had a problem getting to this site. Park at the Old Allegan Canoe Rental Parking lot. There is a boat dock just downstream of the old Plainwell Paper Mill. There are 3 great eddies for surfing and 2 nice standing waves. Only problem is water quality. High PCB's and phophorous levels from the old paper mill. Try not get to wet! Best WW spot I know of in the Grand Rapids area.
There has to be an easier way to get to this place. Does anyone know if there is a service road along the power lines?
Anyway, from Gilkey, at the end of the trail and a tree has fallen over the old spillway, which obstructs the waterflow. The upstream side of the tree/spillway is the put in. The play holes and old dam are upstream a bit and not visible from the put-in. Once you get to the hole it is fun (even in low water) but a bit of work to get there. Coming back take the main river back to the side of the school parking lot and avoid a walk.
To get to this spot from Gilkey Elementary, Hike down the nature trail (their are spurs to the right and left, but stay on the center trail). After a good 1/4 mile the trail ends along the mill race where some water falls over a small old dam into a channel back to the main river. Put in here in the mill race and paddle upstream about 200 yards to the top of the old dam on the main river.
This is a little "hidden" gem in Southwest, MI. It's really more than just a hole. You have a perfect green wave on river right for most levels. The rest of the river is a ledge which forms 3 to 4 retentive holes, some more steep than others. You have 2 large eddies on either side of the river with a couple of eddies midstream that are perfect for stern squirts, practicing ferries, etc.
10 years ago
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Permits are not required for this reach.
Note: This is a 'park-and-play', and the 'shuttle' is via carrying up a path, and paddling a short section of millrace (as described elsewhere). Therefore, ignore the directions below. Instead, use the text box to enter your home or other starting address to get drive time, distance, and directions to (roughly) this area.
the real swell
Plainwell Swell Rapid
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