The Boardman River is a 28.2mi river that flows into the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The Boardman's upper tributaries rise near Kalkaska, Michigan, and its watershed drains an area of 295sqmi through 130mi of river and tributaries. The Boardman River is considered one of the top ten trout streams in Michigan. Before entering the Grand Traverse Bay, it becomes Boardman Lake, a natural lake that was originally 259acre in size and increased to 339acre after the Union Street Dam was constructed in 1867.
After flowing through Boardman Lake, the river descends through downtown Traverse City, following a hairpin-shaped course to Grand Traverse Bay. This Traverse City section of the Boardman River is accessible by motorboat from the lakeshore up to a weir upstream from the lakeshore. A short distance upstream from the weir is the Union Street Dam, a small decommissioned mill dam located between Cass and Union Streets.
The other three dams on the river are being removed: Sabin, Boardman and Brown Bridge. On October 6, 2012, a temporary structure put in place to facilitate drawdown at Brown Bridge Dam was breached, flooding the river valley. In June 2014 the Michigan DEQ issued a report identifying erosion around the temporary drawdown structure as the likely cause of the failure.
Brown Bridge Dam removal was completed in January 2013 and resulted in the reestablishment of 2.5 miles of river channel. Revegetation and restoration work in the project area is ongoing. In preparation for the removal of the Boardman and Sabin Dams, both spillways have been opened and the impoundments have been drawn down as low as permitted by the permanent structures in place today. Deconstruction and removal of the Boardman Dam is scheduled to be complete by October, 2017. Plans for the removal of the Sabin Dam are pending.
Use our Traverse City trip itinerary maker website to visit Boardman River Boardwalk on your trip to Traverse City, and learn what else travelers and our writers recommend seeing nearby.
Boardman River Boardwalk Reviews
We happened on this strolling around town and descended the stairs to what looks like a relatively new walk. Very beautiful, especially the time of day we were there, towards sunset. The light... more »
A lovely place to stroll for a break from shopping or while waiting for a film to start. Ducks and swans. Plenty of parking and a view of the bay. more »
Very good river.
Absolutely love the area, lots of things to do and see. I highly recommend you spend the day there.
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