The Looking Glass River is a major tributary to the Grand River, located in central, Lower Michigan. The headwaters of the Looking Glass River lie far to the east in Livingston County, and it discharges into the Grand River in downtown Portland (Ionia County). The Grand River continues on west and drains into Lake Michigan.
The dominant land use in the upper Looking Glass watershed is agriculture; however, much of the upper watershed exists in a relatively natural state providing forestland, open fields, wetlands, and long segments of abundant tree canopies that shade the river. Low-density residential is the second most prominent land use in the watershed.
The Looking Glass River is a very slow-moving river that flows 71 miles from a destination southeast of Laingsburg to the Grand River in Portland. The river winds around small farming communities and offers excellent wildlife viewing. Muskrats, beavers, Blue Herons, Wood Ducks, Canadian Geese, Mallard Ducks and other aquatic species flourish in the marshy wetlands surrounding the river.
“The paddling is easy as the current is at times unnoticeable unless a leaf is floating along on the surface. This allows for a relaxing paddle and I would recommend this to the newest/youngest of paddlers. The water level in the spring is usually extremely high after the snow melts which creates many new paddling route possibilities. It is a bit easier to get lost in the dark when the water is high as landmarks can be submerged. All in all, I love paddling this river because of the laziness of the current and the beauty and seclusion of the surroundings. It is a nice contrast to faster bodies of water and makes it easier to bring less capable individuals along for the ride without worrying about rapids or portaging.” (Anonymous posting on Paddling.com). To see a kayaking experience on the Looking Glass River, watch this video (Brian Wellwood 10/22/17).