Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge 2009

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                          April 17th to May 9th

Find out how it all unfolded! click here.

Jim's blog

Overview of UHHC route
not intended for navigational purposes

In the spring of 1790 British trader Hugh Heward, together with seven French-Canadian paddlers in two birchbark canoes, departed Detroit on a trip that would take them to the Chicago Portage and then via the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers to the Mississippi. Instead of following the usual exploration and fur trade route north through Lake Huron and the Straits of Makinaw then south through Lake Michigan, the Heward party went downstream on the Detroit River into Lake Erie, then upstream on the Huron River. They eventually worked their way to the divide between the Lake Erie and Lake Michigan watersheds, portaged their canoes and goods into a tributary of the Grand River and then paddled down the Grand to Lake Michigan. In effect, they took a shortcut across Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Once in Lake Michigan they skirted the coast east and south all the way to Chicago.

As history has shown us and often was the case in those days, Heward's party ran into a misunderstanding with some Native folks over fair trade agreements and had to rush their journey down the first stretch of the Grand River. Heward and his men did outrun the Natives and because of this small misunderstanding they ended up paddling over 50 miles in a single day, a distance that Michigan Historian and Topologist Jim Woodruff found very interesting and quite amazing. Jim, being a very good friend of Verlen's, brought this historical information to Verlen and asked him to re-enact Heward's race down the Grand River. Verlen jumped at the chance to prove it could be done and since then there has been a growing number of paddlers that re-enact that 50 mile run down the Grand River on the annuall Hugh Heward Challenge.  

In addition to the annual 50 mile Hugh Heward Challenge the Verlen Kruger Memorial would like to introduce a much longer and more difficult Challenge in 2009. The Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge will follow the original route of the Heward party from Detroit to Chicago including an 8 mile overland portage from the Huron River watershed to the Grand River watershed. This Challenge will include many different water conditions including up river travel, big open water on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, many difficult portages and adverse springtime weather. This Challenge is for experienced paddlers. 


Starting Location
Public Beach on Belle Isle in the Detroit River
Riverbank Rd. Detroit, Michigan 
42*20'37.06" N
82*58'47.32" W
8:30am  April 17th 2009


Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge 2009

Time and Distance Estimate

Place                              Date               Miles                       Total

Belle Isle- Detroit, MI.           4/17 am
Mouth of Huron River            4/17 pm  Day 1            22                                22
Willow Metro Park                 4/18 pm  Day 2            16                                38

Ford Lake                            4/19 pm  Day 3            20                                58

Argo Dam- Ann Arbor, MI       4/20 pm  Day 4            15                                73
Portage Lake                        4/21 pm  Day 5            18                                91

Grand River                          4/22 pm  Day 6            20                              111

Onondaga                            4/23 pm  Day 7            24                              135

Dimondale                           4/24 pm  Day 8            24                               159

Portland                               4/25 pm  Day 9            50                              209

Portland (day off)                  4/26 pm Day 10             0                              209

Saranac                                4/27 pm Day 11           43                              252

Grand Valley State College      4/28 pm Day 12           48                              300

Grand River Mouth @ Lk Mich.  4/29 pm Day 13           25                              325

Saugatuck Dunes SP                4/30 pm Day 14          20                              345

Van Buren SP                          5/1 pm Day 15            20                              365

Van Buren SP (weather day )     5/2 pm Day 16             0                              365

St. Joseph                              5/3 pm Day 17            20                              385

Warren Dunes SP                     5/4 pm Day 18            20                             405

Warren Dunes SP (weather day) 5/5 pm Day 19             0                              405

Michigan City, Indiana               5/6 pm Day 20           20                              425

Gary                                      5/7 pm Day 21             20                              445

East Chicago, Illinois                 5/8 pm Day 22           10                              455
Chicago                                  5/9 pm Day 23            10                              465

Finish Location
12th Street Beach
Chicago, Ill

41*51'52.86" N
87*36'25.91" W