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Canoe Routes

Posted: June 5, 2007

In addition to a rapidly growing trail system in Grey and Bruce, there are several established canoe routes that allow you to see the area from a different vantage point.

Canoeing gives you a new view of the landscape and the thriving river environment that runs through it.

A quiet canoeist can see white-tailed deer on the banks, blue herons, painted turtles, osprey and even the occasional black bear. Riding the river you can watch for beavers, visit their homes, and even stop and fish off the banks.

If you are new to canoeing, you will want to seek advice on the condition of local routes from area canoe outfitters or by calling local conservation authorities. Certain rivers are more accessible during specific seasons, and choosing the wrong route can turn you off the sport pretty quickly - especially if you find yourself dragging a canoe over deadwood every few metres or spilling in faster than expected rapids!

While there are many rivers in the Grey-Bruce area, there are two popular routes, the Beaver River and the Saugeen River.

Both run through diverse terrain, ranging from swamp to forest to farmland.

The Beaver River Canoe Route

The Beaver River is another great river for day trips. With an access point just north of Kimberley on Grey Road 13, the river is a 20-kilometre trip one-way. As with the Rankin, plan to spend the bulk of your day on the trip, leaving an extra car in Heathcote.

This section of the Beaver River can be paddled all year long. It is a slow moving river that's ideal for beginner paddlers. There are few obstacles - paddlers may have to portage around the occasional logjam.

As the name suggests, the Beaver River runs through the Beaver Valley, providing views of the Niagara Escarpment along the way. As you approach Heathcote, the landscape changes to farmland.
The river is a great fishing spot and fortunate paddlers can also see plenty of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, ducks, owls, snapping turtles and muskrats.

Contact the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority for more information on the Beaver River canoe route (519) 376-3076. Email

Saugeen River Canoe Route

If you are looking for an overnight camping/canoe trip, the Saugeen River is your best bet. This 102-kilometre river can be paddled in 3 or 4 days or can be broken down into shorter day trips.

There are multiple access points along the river's length. The route begins in Hanover and ends in Southampton where the river meets Lake Huron. Paddlers can access the river in Walkerton, Paisley, or at any number of bridges along the way.

River conditions vary from broad flat sections to stretches with rapids and eddies, making sections of the Saugeen ideal for family canoeing and for learning the basics of rapid water navigation. The rapids present little difficulty, except in early spring, when water is high and fast flowing. River level reports can be accessed from Saugeen Conservation's website.

The most difficult section of the river is between Hanover and Walkerton. Three of the four portages on the trip are in this section. Families may want to start their trip in Walkerton to avoid the hassle of portaging.

Camping is available at Lobie's Park in Walkerton, McBeath Conservation Area, the Rotary Park in Paisley and at the Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area.

As with the Rankin and Beaver Rivers, there are great wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities on the Saugeen. Watch for ducks, herons, beavers and muskrats along the way.

For more information on the Saugeen River canoe route, see the Saugeen Conservation web site for route information online or call 519-364-1255.

While the Rankin, Beaver and the Saugeen River are all great rivers for beginner paddlers, conditions change rapidly. Water levels fluctuate and obstacles like fallen trees are rarely the same from visit to visit. It's important to plan your trip, pack a map, and check in with local conservation authorities before heading out.

For more information on canoe routes and trails in the area

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