Paddling Routes in Ottawa
The following is a list of some of the best paddling routes in Ottawa as recommended by Frontenac Outfitters and their customers! If you have any recommendations about other paddling routes in Ottawa, please call 1.800.250.3174 (Ontario) / 1.613.376.6220 or send us an email to [email protected]
Paddling Routes in Ottawa – East End
North end of Blair Rd.
This paddling route takes place on the Ottawa River and is ideal for a day trip. It can be a busy spot on a summer weekend as many people park here to go biking or just walking/running along the walkways. The launch area is a short carry from the parking lot. It is also shallow and can be a bit muddy; however, it is sheltered.The river can also be busy with boat traffic causing rough water. Current is moderate but with a wind can be a challenge.
From the Queensway (Highway 174) take the Blair Road exit and turn right (north) onto Blair. Cross Montreal Road and go down the hill going towards the river. Turn left at the stop sign. There is a free parking.
Kettle Island is at this site. Staying on the Ontario shoreline you can paddle west past the Rockcliffe Flying Club where planes will land and take off low overhead. Continuing on, you paddle parallel to the Rockcliffe Parkway and a private marina, and the Prime Minister of Canada’s residence. Continuing on you come to the Rideau Falls and the point where the Rideau River empties into the Ottawa River. Watch out for the very strong currents around the falls. Continuing on you paddle past the Ottawa Rowing Club where people are leaning to sail and row. Watch out for the newbies! You can continue to paddle to Major’s Hill Park and the entrance to the Rideau Canal, the Parliament Buildings of Canada and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. Watch out for the tour boats in this area. If you continue west beyond this point you will start to encounter rapids that occupy more and more of the river. Stopping at the Rideau Canal is a good place to stop in order to return to the Blair Road site. This makes for a good day paddle.
On the Quebec side of the river as you are paddling along is also the entrance to the Gatineau River just before you come to the Prime Minister’s residence.
The one caveat about this trip is that there are few places to stop and rest or eat and the busy waterway can make it difficult to just stop in the water and rest.
This paddling route takes place on the Ottawa River and is ideal for a day trip. The river can be busy with boat traffic causing rough water. There are a couple of areas where you can launch. The first is a marina which is on your right when you first get across the causeway. This can be busy. The second area is to go to the end of the road to the parking area and launch from the beach area or the several other areas that are nearby.
Take the Queensway east (highway 174) to Hwy 17. Continue east past the Jeanne’d Arc Blvd exit, the Place’d Orleans exit and the 10th Line Road exit. The next exit is Trim Road. There is a set of lights here (just beyond Trim Road the highway narrows to only two lanes). Turn left at the Trim Road lights and drive north across the causeway to the Island.
Depending on the time of year there are many small channels around the island to explore and of course the Ottawa River. There are washroom facilities here, a beach, and nature areas.
Paddling Routes in Ottawa – Central
This paddling route takes place on Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal and is ideal for a day trip. Dow’s Lake is part of the Rideau Canal system and is a relatively small lake with access to the Rideau Canal north or south from the lake. Expect some larger boat traffic especially on weekends.
If you head north (left) on the canal out of the lake the canal narrows considerably and with potentially heavy boat traffic the waves will roll off the side walls of the canal and will cause potential multi-wave actions on your kayak. This route is part of the ‘Longest Skating Rink in the World’ in the winter in Ottawa and Dow’s Lake as well as the north part of the canal are areas that are part of the big winter celebration in February in Ottawa called Winterlude.
If you head south on the canal out of the lake you will only go a short distance before you encounter the Hartwell Locks.
Once into the canal, there are no easy places to get out. The docking available is primarily for larger power boats. However, there is a location about half way down the canal towards downtown Ottawa. This is the Ritz Canal Restaurant.
It is 7 km from the Hartwell Locks to the Ottawa Lock Station at the Ottawa River.
At the extension of Preston St. and Carling Ave. Accessible by the Queen Elizabeth Driveway also. There is a pay-parking lot across from the Dow’s Lake Pavilion. There is also free parking weekends and evenings off Rochester street at the Accellio building. It is free after 5pm and weekends except during one of the many summer activities in the area.
There are many small parks in the area surrounding the lake and there are restaurants and washrooms at the Dow’s Lake Pavillion as well as a boat ramp. The lake is a popular area for canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and various size power and sail boats.
Outside of the lake, heading north on the canal, you will paddle under numerous bridges. On both sides of the canal are parkways and bicycle paths. There are also several flower beds and park areas. However, there are many large boats to see and once you get near the end of the canal there is the Ottawa University Campus and the National Arts Centre as well as the Chateau Laurier Hotel, and the Parliament Buildings on the shores and then the multi stage locks at the entrance of the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River.
Outside of the lake, heading south on the canal you go past the Arboretum and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on the left just before you get to the Hartwell Locks. The campus of Carleton University runs along the canal from the end of Dow?s Lake to the Hartwell Locks. If you portage around these locks you can paddle further down river to the Hogs Back Locks at the entrance to Mooney?s Bay. This southern paddle is more open then the northern route.
Paddling Routes in Ottawa – Gatineau Area, Quebec
Meech Lake Launch
This paddling route takes place on Meech Lake and is ideal for a day trip. The launch area is a gentle sloping area. This area is also used by Ottawa area outfitters that demo kayaks and also give lessons. It can be a busy area. There is a public beach at one end of the lake.
Across the from the parking lot is the launch. Expect to pay $7-$10 for parking. The launch area has a small road that, if you are quick and the road is not busy, you can pull into, unload your kayak and then park in the lot. If not, the distance from the lot to the launch is not that far.
Directions (From Ottawa):
1) From the ChaudiPres Bridge, turn left onto Alexandre-Taché Boulevard in Hull. Continue on, and turn right onto the Gatineau Parkway. Continue for 16 kilometres (10 miles), and turn right onto Lac-Meech Road.
2) If you are facing Parliament, take Wellington Street west and continue to the Portage Bridge. Cross the bridge, and turn left at the first traffic lights. Continue on Taché to the Gatineau Parkway and turn right. Continue on the parkway for 16 kilometres (10 miles), and turn right onto Lac-Meech Road.
3) Following Meech Lake Rd, go until you reach P12.
This is a relatively quiet lake regarding power boats. It is a very scenic lake with many attractive cottages and homes lining the lake. It is also known for the Meech Lake Accord and as a retreat area for senior government employees. It?s an easy day paddle.
Lac La Peche
This paddling route takes place Lac La Peche and is ideal for a day trip.
Take Highway 5 until the junction to the 105. Once passed the junction to Wakefield, turn left on Highway 366. Just passed Wakefield you will see Eardley Rd. on the left. Continue on Eardley Road to the entrance to Gatineau Park and Lac Lapeche on the right. Stay on this dirt road for about, passed the park’s lodge and you come to the beach and parking.
There are many scenic areas to explore on the lake that are wilderness areas and secluded. There are also numerous areas to rest.