5 Rivers to Paddle in Ontario

Most Ontario cottage rentals come with non-powered watercraft – kayaks, a canoe, rowboat or pedalboat or stand-up paddleboard. Some have multiple boats so you can have a whole family experience. Whatever is provided, make sure you don’t go out on the water without a safety kit (baler, rope, flashlight and whistle) and a property fitting personal flotation device.

You can usually paddle out directly from the cottage into a lake or river, but if you want to explore – maybe take your own boat or rent one – into some of the best paddling rivers in Ontario, we’ve chosen our favourites.

Check our list of companies offering canoe and kayak rentals here

The Big East (Muskoka region)

Cliffs, waterfalls, sand bars, rapids and no-portaging makes the Big East perfect for a full-day or half-day kayak.  Put in at Williamsport Road in Huntsville and paddle through Arrowhead Provincial Park all the way to Vernon Lake for a wonderful day-long trip or cut it down to shorter chunks.  This oxbow river meanders through dense pines and magnificent cliff landscapes and by massive sandbanks where you can stop for a picnic.

Burnt River (Kawartha Lakes region)

Sheltered and peaceful in places, the Burnt River is the perfect waterway for new paddlers. Kinmount to Cameron Lake is the best section, but paddlers could also go from the village of Burnt River south to Cameron Lake and then into Fenelon Falls. If you want to do the full trip from Kinmount to Cameron Lake it is 34Km with a couple of easy portages.

The scenery alternates between classic Canadian shield forest with rocky outcrops, a few cottages, and some shallow bays to explore. Watch out for otter, beaver, muskrats, herons and plenty of other birdlife.

Burnt River Bridge at Kinmount

Crowe River

From Paudash Lake to the Trent River, the Crowe passes through villages and small towns offering a range of paddling experiences, portages and diverse countryside.    There are rapids, chutes and waterfalls at the northern end and less adventurous waters to the south. 

There’s plenty of short trips to take up a half-day or a day – try out Healey Falls to Crowe River Conservation Area or the Crowe River Trail from Marmora to Campbellford

Crowe River Conservation Area

Saugeen River

At 198km the Saugeen River is the third largest river system in Southern Ontario. With a drop in level of nearly 1200ft from the headwaters in the Dundalk area to the Town of Southampton where it empties into Lake Huron, there are parts of the Saugeen not recommended for paddling novices.

Having said that, it is one of the most popular canoe routes in Southern Ontario. Although the majority of it passes through private land there are many locations to put in and take out a canoe or kayak for the day.

York River

There’s waterfalls, chutes, portages and some very adventurous sections on the York River once west of Bancroft but before that it’s relatively benign and for a pleasureable summer and fall 3 hour paddle, rent a canoe or a couple of kayaks from Trips and Trails in Bancroft.  Their shuttle will drop you off upriver for a gentle paddle back into town.

Ask them about more challenging routes and they will be glad to share their experiences and help you choose the right one to suit you.

Trips and Trails Bancroft

CottageLINK Rental Management
Email: info@clrm.ca
Toll Free: 1-866 323 6698

Our Hours:
Mon-Fri 9-5
Sat-Sun 9-5

Business Address:
PO Box 39036
Columbia PO, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2T 0A7

Email Sign Up

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.