This was an ambitious trip to complete in 4 days including travel time from near London, Ontario. We enlisted the help of the good folks at Spanish River Outfitters to help shuttle us from our ending point at “The Elbow” to the start of our trip at Duke Lake. (The Outfitter also has lots of canoes and has a good idea on water levels). We had awesome weather and high water conditions that allowed us to paddle 82 kms without a single portage (yes you read that correctly). We were able to complete this trip on time but I would definitely advise you to stretch it out if you are able.
- Leave London at midnight on Sunday
- Boats in the water at noon on Monday
- 25K paddle on Monday, we were at camp around 5PM
- 31K paddle on Tuesday (started to get into some fast water), we paddled from 10AM to 5PM
- 20K paddle on Wednesday
- 10K paddle on Thursday morning so that we were out of the water around 11
- Long drive home (back in London around 10PM)
We did not see any other paddlers on the river for 4 days – awesome. We saw some railway workers one day but that was it. The campsites were well marked and established. Some of them looked like they could be buggy – it’s a little harder to have good wind exposure on a river. Unlike camping on a lake it can be a little harder to explore by canoe on the river once you have set up camp because at some campsites the river is moving pretty fast and it would be difficult to paddle upstream. We didn’t have a lot of time for fishing but there were some spots where we really would have liked to throw in a line. We did catch a couple of smallmouth bass and some pike.
- You are permitted to camp at the Duke Lake put-in so that would be a great place to stay the night before you start
- “The Elbow” also appears to be pretty well set up for camping so I think it would be reasonable to stay there as well if you finish up late
- You don’t need to canoe this entire section, you can drop in by train from “The Forks”
- The canoe map by chrismar is very good – I would get a copy it told us about some things we have passed by without noticing
- After the first 25-30 kms of slower lake travel the river really picks up speed for some easy paddling
- This is a great trip to get a taste of whitewater without any really difficult rapids. We stopped many times to scout the rapids but always felt confident running them. In most cases it was a short portage if you needed to go around them (due to water conditions)