Hugh Heward Challenge
Recreate history on the Grand River!
The Hugh Heward Challenge
on the Grand River in Mid-Michigan
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Pre-registration opens Saturday, March 4
Watch this page for updates.
The Hugh Heward Challenge is an annual paddling event on the Grand River and is open to all paddlers. The event includes three distances:
experienced paddlers and racers may prefer the “Full Hugh,” a 50-mile route;
recreational paddlers are strongly advised to choose the shorter routes: 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. Memorial.
Want to stay up-to-date with the Hugh Heward? Like the event on Facebook!
The History of the Hugh Heward Challenge
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 birchbark 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.
Read the history of Hugh Heward and his entire journey in Jim Woodruff’s paper, Across Lower Michigan by Canoe, 1790.