Recreational Paddling: Ottawa Area Rivers

The ORR is active in promoting day trips on all Classes of Ottawa area rivers.  Conditions depend on the time of year and rainfall.  Trips are geared towards specific levels of experience so that everyone can enjoy the outing.  The groups are led by ORR members who are familiar with the particular river, where to put in and take out.


In Ottawa/Gatineau:

Ottawa River: Champlain Bridge / Bate's Island  high water surf waves at the "wall" in April / May - note cold water and far from shore e.g. very long swim if you swim - June through October warmer water and grade 2 to 3 rapids out in the middle of the river, accommodating beginner/intermediates.
Ottawa River: Tailrace of the pumphouse, LeBreton Flats. National Slalom training site.
Ottawa River: Brewery Creek below dam  (details to follow)
Rideau River, Hog's Back Falls section: from the falls to railroad bridge at Carleton University. Class 2-3 (depending on level) or Class 5 if you run the Falls (see slide show, "Running Hog's Back Falls"). Can be portaged back to the put-in if you want to repeat the run. May to beg. June.
Jock River @ Highway 16,10 minutes from Ottawa - grade 1 to 2 - usually only worthwhile for 1 to 2 weeks @ Spring breakup - late March, early  April - local short trip - river time <one hr.

Within 1 to 2+ hrs drive of Ottawa/Gatineau:

Mississippi River near Lanark and Playfairville bridge - grade 2 to 3 - end of April, early May -1 hour from Ottawa - river time 1 to 1.5 hours – cold  water
Petite Nation River just north of Papineauville, 1 hour from Ottawa - grade 2 to 4 - end of April to early June, park and paddle - no car shuttle required - paddlers can choose from 4 different rapids to suit ability - cold water
Madawaska River near Griffith - 2.5 hour drive from Ottawa - grade 3 - usually best @ end of May, early June - river time 5 to 6 hours - good intermediate river
Petawawa River at the town of Deep River, off Highway 17.  1.5 hrs drive from Ottawa. Class 2-3 run. Starts above railroad bridge, and runs to municipal park. 2-hour trip, May to June
Rouge River - Harrington (canyon) section : grade 3 to 4 - May and June - 1.75 hours from Ottawa - river time 2 to 3 hours - requires intermediate paddling skills and solid whitewater roll.
Rouge River -Seven Sisters section - grade 3 to 5 - May to October -1.5 hours from Ottawa - intermediate paddling skills and solid whitewater roll at lower (usually summer ) levels - serious expert run at high (usually spring) levels
Ottawa River - "Rocher fendu" : 2 sections - dam controlled & sensitive to  precipitation in the river's northern catchment basin -1.5 hours from Ottawa - same access and takeout for both sections.

  • Middle Section grade 3 to 4 - June and July depending on water level - river time ~ 4 hours - accommodates intermediate paddlers - all difficult rapids easily portaged - warm water.
  • Main Section grade 5 in high cold water in May where not washed out - grade 4 in June, requires advanced intermediate skills and solid roll - grade 3 to 4 summer levels - lots of play spots, warm water and can safely accommodate beginners with a few short portages or park and paddle at first one or 2 rapids - river time variable 2 hours to all day

Gatineau River. 2 hours from Ottawa on highway 105 near Maniwaki - expert grade 4 to 5 in high water - intermediate to expert grade 3 to 4 at low summer levels - 2 to 5 hour river time - all rapids portageable -1 strenuous portage
Du Diable  2 sections: (1) at the town of Arundel. 2 hrs form Ottawa, This section was selected for the whitewater slalom site of the Montreal Olympics, had that sport been approved at the time. Class 3. Short run, but the river is wide, and the run can be repeated without shuttle on different descent lines. Good playing options. Best in summer. (2) Mont Tremblant section (behind the ski hills). 2.5 hrs from Ottawa. Class 3 to 4. One hour run. Usually repeated. Easy shuttle, along road that parallels river. Best in summer.

Other whitewater rivers flowing into the Ottawa River, within easy driving distance (west of Ottawa, on the north shore): Coulonge,  Lièvre,  De l'Aigle, Noire, Désert, Du Moine, Gens de Terre. (Details on these runs to follow)

Adirondack rivers within easy distance of Ottawa: Black, Moose (more details to follow)

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