An ideal river for beginning paddlers, sometimes called the ‘Big Easy’ for its slow flow. Popular with fishermen, the river has many wide segments with abundant wildlife. A large segment in the county is part of the Heritage Water Trail network, boasting many historic sites.

The following information has been pulled from "Paddling Michigan's Hidden Beatury: The Rivers, The Towns, The Taverns" by Doc Fletcher.

  • The St. Joseph is the 3rd largest river in all of Michigan
  • The headwaters are near Hillsdale
  • The St. Joseph is a favorite for fishermen and includes fish such as: steelhead, smallmouth bass, walleye, salmon and brown trout
  • The river is usually divided into 2 sections: upstream/northeast of Three Rivers (part 1 on the above map), and downstream/southwest of Three Rivers (part 2 on the above map)
  • Paddlers who can put in/take out themselves have a wide variety of access points along the entire river (even outside of St. Joseph County). Paddling from the headwater near Hillsdale to Three Rivers would take approximately 8 and a half hours
  • Suggested Trip 1: Mendon to Sturgis Dam in Centreville (2 hours 2 minutes)*
  • Suggested Trip 2: Sturgis Dam in Centreville to Schweitzer Road (1 hour)*
  • Suggested Trip 3: Schweitzer Road to Three Rivers (2 hours)*
  • Suggested Trip 4: Three Rivers to Withers Road (2 hours)*
  • Suggested Trip 5: Withers Road to Constantine (2 hours)*
  • Sturgis Dam requires portage - see image below
  • Three Rivers Dam requires portage - see image below
  • Mottville Dam requires portage - see image below
  • Constantine Dam requires portage - see image below

* These trips are available through Liquid Therapy Canoe and Kayak Rentals in Three Rivers

At this time, we do not have updated river condition information.