Paddling 101

Published Date: November 25, 2014

Exploring Grey’s Waterways

From Georgian Bay to Lake Eugenia, from the Beaver River to the Sydenham and the Saugeen, Grey County has miles of pristine waters to explore.  Whether you’re looking for a family- friendly canoe adventure, a challenging kayak experience or a sunset stand- up paddle, there’s something for you in Grey County.

With a wealth of epic paddling experiences in our own backyard, a variety of knowledgeable outfitters have set up shop in Grey County to offer rentals, guides and lessons. 

Always be sure to think about water safety before you head out, make a plan, let someone know your plan and be prepared.  #knowbeforeyougo  Here are some water safety tips from Grey Bruce Public Health.

Before you dive in

What you pack for a day of paddling depends on your route, your chosen boat (kayak, canoe or SUP) and the time of year. With that said, there are some simple things to keep in mind when you’re planning a paddle. First, whatever goes in the boat, could in theory, end up wet. Most outfitters sell dry bags specifically made to seal with several folds, keeping whatever is inside dry, even if the bag goes for a dip. This is a must have for sleeping bags and your tent if you’re canoe camping. It’s also a good idea for car keys, cell phones, cameras etc. If you’re canoeing or kayaking with kids, it’s a good idea to pack easy to eat snacks, books or small toys that will help keep them busy if you have a long paddle planned. Finally, Transport Canada has a number of rules about the safety equipment you must have on board for canoes, kayaks and SUPs. At a minimum, you need a personal flotation device for each person in your boat. To learn more, visit the Transport Canada website.

River Paddling and Tubing Safety Tips

  • Let someone know where you are going, the route you are taking, and when you expect to return. If you are not an experienced paddler, we suggest using one of our Paddling outfitters to guide you or give lessons.
  • Monitor the weather. Check the forecast before leaving and prepare for rain even if you don't think it will.
  • Monitor river conditions and water flow. The flow changes throughout the season, and even day to day depending on rainfall.  A two-hour paddle in spring could be a five-hour paddle in the summer or fall.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear quick-drying clothing (not cotton!) made of material that retains heat even when wet, to help you stay warm and dry.
  • Carry a cell phone or radio in dry bag for emergency communication, but keep in mind you may not have service in a river valley or remote area.
  • Carry plenty of food and water. Drink fluids frequently to avoid dehydration.
  • Never paddle alone. Paddling in a group is safest. If you are in a group, stay within visual or verbal contact if possible.
  • Always wear a life vest. It’s hard to judge how swiftly moving water is flowing, which is why authorities always recommend you – and specially your children – always wear a life vest.
  • Scan ahead for hazards like fallen or overhanging trees, rocks, or rapids and know how to paddle around or avoid them. If it appears too challenging, plan to exit the river and portage around these hazards.

Great Grey Paddles

The Sydenham River: History on the water’s edge

This family-friendly river takes you from Harrison Park through Owen Sound’s historic downtown to the city’s East Boat Launch. The river offers unique views of Owen Sound’s heritage homes winding through marshlands along the Niagara Escarpment with lots of opportunities for viewing both wildlife and birds. Rent a boat from the Putt n’ Paddle in Harrsion Park then wrap up your journey with an ice cream and a walk through the park’s bird sanctuary.

The Beaver River: Beginners welcome

This gentle river flows 40 kilometres from Kimberley to Heathcote and was a key transportation route in the 19th century. Home to the great blue heron, the great horned owl, white tailed deer and its namesake – the beaver, this is a great route for beginner paddlers. Put ins are available on Grey Road 13 north of Kimberley, on the Epping Side Road and at Healthcote allowing you to vary your route from 6 to 15 kilometres.

The Saugeen: Placid pastures and swirling eddies

Beginning in the town of Hanover and flowing west into Lake Huron, the Saugeen River offers something for everyone. From placid stretches through rich farmland to swirling eddies and rapids, this river can be both family-friendly and challenging. With campgrounds available along i’s length, the full trip from Hanover to Southampton is 102 kilometres but paddlers can easily plot a course that suits their time frame. The Durham Conservation Area makes a great day use stop and also offers overnight camping.

Lake Eugenia: An inland treasure

Grey County’s largest inland lake offers excellent paddling and fishing. This is strictly a bring-your-own-boat option but with easy access to the public launch (with a nice swimming spot) and plenty of parking, Eugenia is a great place to explore.

Georgian Bay: Hit the open water

The waters of Georgian Bay are one of Grey County’s true gems. The aquamarine and dark blue hues are some of the most beautiful in the world. Mother Nature runs the show on the bay though, with conditions ranging from glassy to whitecaps. Sea kayaking is a great way to explore and calm days are perfect for stand-up paddleboards. Great places to launch are Northwinds Beach near Thornbury, Colpoy’s Bay near Wiarton or the Owen Sound Bay. Whether you’re going it alone or with a guide; let someone know your route and Check the marine forecast before heading out.

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