Saturday, April 29, 2017
on the Grand River in mid-Michigan
(see specific routes below)
Fee: $10.00 per person
See you in 2018 on April 28!
Deadline to order is May 12.
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The Hugh Heward Challenge is open to all paddlers. Experienced paddlers may prefer the “Full Hugh,” a 50-mile route; recreational paddlers may prefer a shorter route: the 25-mile “Half Hugh” or the 13-mile “Quarter Hugh.” All three routes finish at Thompson Field in Portland, Michigan, the site of the Verlen Kruger Memorial. This event takes place rain or shine.
Paddlers who register in advance receive an official certificate of completion upon arrival at Thompson Field in Portland. (If you register at the launch, you’ll receive a handwritten certificate.)
You are encouraged to stay and enjoy the company of your fellow paddlers. Food will be on sale at the finish for a separate fee. Any food money collected in excess of expenses will support the maintenance of the Verlen Kruger Memorial.
Presentation of the Jim Woodruff Award takes place at 4 p.m. This award is presented each year for outstanding behind the scenes contribution to the Grand River and the paddling community.
Routes and Launch Times
Check-in begins 30 minutes before published launch times. Paddle times are rough estimates and depend on river level, wind speed/direction, weather conditions, and paddler skill level.
- Full Hugh: 50 miles (approx. 10-12 hours or more). Dimondale to Portland, MI. Launch 7-9 a.m. at Lions Park in Dimondale; finish at Thompson Field in Portland. Camping available in Dimondale at Lions Park the night before launch. Map to Lions Park, Dimondale, MI
- Half Hugh: 25 miles (approx. 5-7 hours or more). Grand Ledge to Portland, MI. Launch 9-11 a.m. at dam in Fitzgerald Park, Grand Ledge; finish at Thompson Field in Portland. Parking pass available for those launching at Fitzgerald Park. Map to Fitzgerald Park, Grand Ledge, MI
- Quarter Hugh – 13 miles (approx. 2-4 hours or more). Launch 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Launch at Charlotte Highway Bridge; finish at Thompson Field in Portland. Map to Charlotte Highway Bridge launch site
All routes finish at Thompson Field in Portland, Michigan, the site of the Verlen Kruger Memorial. Map to Thompson Field, Portland, MI
Helpful Hugh Hint: Make arrangements in advance for car spotting. Drop your gear at the launch with a trusted person, drive to the finish, park your car, and get a ride back to the launch. Arrange car spotting yourself or a through third-party vendor, such as Trailspotters.
Please review the route map and safety card. All paddlers must sign the waiver of liability form we’ll give you at check-in before launching.
This annual paddling event reenacts a one-day, 50-mile sprint down the Grand River in Mid-Michigan by British fur trader Hugh Heward and his French-Canadian crew in two birch-bark canoes on April 24, 1790.
In the run-up to Grand River Expedition 2000, topologist and historian Jim Woodruff challenged his friend and canoeing legend Verlen Kruger—and the entire mid-Michigan paddling community—to match Heward’s feat. Kruger accepted the challenge and invited others to join; the Hugh Heward Challenge was born.