Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
5 Life-Changing Paddling Routes in Northeastern Ontario

Whether you’re planning a scenic day trip or a backcountry adventure, northeastern Ontario is a paddler’s playground.

Last year, Northeastern Ontario Tourism asked its readers to vote for their top paddling destinations…

…and the votes are in!

Join us as we count down the Top 5 Paddling Destinations in Northeastern Ontario:

5. Spanish River

spanish river

The Spanish River flows through towering old growth forests and rugged outcrops of the Canadian Shield.

Spanish River Provincial Park offers a wide variety of overnight adventures ranging from 2 to 10 days. Explore the east branch of the river for intermediate whitewater fun, or take the train to Biscotasing to begin your journey on the wilder west branch.

With Class I, II and III rapids, Spanish River offers plenty of swifts and moving water to test experienced paddlers.

**Safety Reminder** Know your skill level before you hit the water! The Ontario Recreational Kayak and Canoe Association is a good source of information and courses.

4. Mattawa River and Ottawa River

Mattawa River paddler

A popular destination for history buffs, these two waterways are Canadian heritage rivers and trace the historic canoe routes of travelers and Canada’s indigenous people.

Experienced paddlers embark on the outskirts of North Bay and travel east to the Mattawa-Ottawa junction in the town of Mattawa. Halfway along the way, stop at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, a great place to camp and spend the night.

If you really want to paddle like it’s 1796, you can dress in traditional traveler attire and take a seat on a 30-foot boat. northern canoe on Voyageur guided tours of the provincial park.

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3. Temagami

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Canoeist

Looking for pristine nature? You will fall in love with Temagami’s towering pine forests, steep cliffs, and stunning waterfalls.

Temagami offers 2,600 lakes and 2,400 km of diverse canoe routes connected by transports that are thousands of years old. The aptly named Solace Provincial Park offers unrivaled flatwater canoeing, while the rapids and waterfalls of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park will appeal to the full-fledged adventurer.

Hikers will love the region’s lakefront cabins. Outfitters offer everything an adventurous paddler needs, from guided tours to seaplane transfers to the backcountry. Ready to choose your route?

2. Killarney

Sunset in Killarney

Killarney Provincial Park’s 645 km2 of wilderness features more than 50 exceptionally clear sapphire lakes nestled among pine hills.

Art lovers return year after year to paddle through the painted landscape and rediscover the views captured on canvas by the Group of Seven.

Paddlers always return, too, captivated by the wild coastline of Georgian Bay, the white quartzite ridges of the La Cloche Mountains, and the lake-dotted landscape. You will never forget your first trip to Killarney.

And at number one, the top-rated Northeast paddling destination is…

1. French River

French river landscape

The river that has it all.

Watch the landscape change as you paddle the 100km from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. The ancient cliffs of the Canadian Shield give way to narrow rock-lined channels, islands, rapids and waterfalls.

Steeped in history, the French River was the first river designated as Canadian Heritage. The award-winning French River Provincial Park Visitor Center invites history lovers to journey through the experiences of Canada’s indigenous peoples, explorers and travelers with its “Voices of the River” exhibit.

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There are multiple routes along the French River from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay and interconnecting routes with the Restoule and Little French Rivers. With 13 access locations along the river, you can tailor-make your adventure.

Row back in time

rower next to cliffs

Whether you’re channeling the wanderlust or watching the sun set over your favorite Group of Seven landscape, these five paddling adventures will capture your memory, your imagination, and your heart.

Why not make a little history of your own?