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The Great Lakes

This leg of your trip is 892 miles - from the International Peace Bridge at Buffalo, N.Y. to the Chicago River Lock at Chicago, Ill.

The channels that connect the Great Lakes are an important part of the system. The St. Marys River is the northernmost channel, a 60-mile waterway flowing from Lake Superior down to Lake Huron. At the St. Marys rapids, the Soo Locks bypass the rough waters, providing safe transport for boaters.

The St. Clair and Detroit rivers, and Lake St. Clair between them, form an 89-mile long channel connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie. The 35-mile Niagara River links lakes Erie and Ontario, and sends approximately 100,000 cubic feet of water per second over Niagara Falls.


Buffalo, NY


Lake Erie: If you are cruising the Erie Canal, then Lake Erie will be the first of the Great Lakes you will cross. The average depth of Lake Erie is only 62 feet, but the western basin area averages only 24 feet. It warms quickly in summer, and freezes over quickly in winter. Lake Erie is 241 miles long. If you take the US side trip around, your likely stops will be Dunkirk, Erie, Conneaut, Cleveland, Sandusky and Toledo. I enjoy Sandusky Bay.

There are 24 islands in Lake Erie, nine of which belong to Canada. Among the largest and most interesting islands are Kelleys Island, home of the Glacial Grooves; South Bass Island, home to Put-in-Bay; and, Johnson's Island, home to a Civil War Cemetery. Canada's Pelee Island and the US's Middle Bass Island are also worth a visit.


Lake St. Clair: Lake St. Clair is your link from Lake Erie to Lake Huron. In comparison, it is a relatively small but it is packed with big things to do and see. The Nautical Mile is the hub of Metro Detroit's boating life and boasts the largest concentration of pleasure boats and marinas in the Midwest. Located along St. Clair shores 'the Nautical Mile' provides a number of dining and nightlife destinations along the waterfront. The Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point (GLMC) is also worth a visit. Located at the junction of the Black River and St. Clair River, the GLMC gives you a variety of opportunities to learn about the history and current events of the Great Lakes. You can also grab an ice cream, and some hand cut fries and check out the live underwater camera feed of activities below the surface along the St. Clair River. If you are into fishing, here is a good place to not only drop a line, but to learn about the hottest spots along your way.


Lake Huron: From Lake St. Clair, Lake Huron is your link to Lake Michigan. It is 206 miles long, and is 183 miles wide. Lake Huron has an average depth of 195 feet and a maximum depth of 750 feet. It is the second largest Great Lake by surface area and the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world. It has the longest shoreline of all the Great Lakes, counting the shorelines of its 30,000 islands, which includes Manitoulin Island - the largest freshwater island in the world. Georgian Bay and Saginaw Bay are the two largest bays on the Great Lakes. The Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan and spans five miles over the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. You will boat directly under this bridge. FYI - at this point, you will be closer to the North Pole then you are to the Equator.


Lake Michigan: Once you pass under the Mackinac Bridge, you are on Lake Michigan. Traveling south from Milwaukee to Chicago, the western shore is lined with big city landscapes. This area, combined with the southern shores of Indiana is home to over 10 million people, and a whooping 120,000 registered boats The Lake Michigan coast is a beautiful shoreline that encompasses some of the most popular beaches on the Great Lakes. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure with sand dunes to climb, big cities to visit, pristine waters to sail, swim and explore, as well as postcard-perfect sunsets to enjoy. Plus, let's not forget about the fishing. There is a tremendous amount to see and do on Lake Michigan. Our very favorite stop on Lake Michigan is Leland (Fishtown), MI. Leland is a picturesque little village located on a sliver of land between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau on the Leelanau Peninsula.


As summertime closes on Lake Michigan, you will want to be in a position to leave Chicago and begin your voyage down the Illinois, Mississippi, and/or (if you take the Tenn-Tom route) the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Your destination of course, is the Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy of

Links to Great Loop Information radio shows on The Great Lakes (and Canada)

DAN Boater
Aqua Map