16 Mile Creek Jordan

There are three bodies of water all pretty close to each other in Niagara, Jordan Harbor, 15 Mile Pond, and 16 Mile Pond/Creek. I’ve done the other two and hated 15 Mile pond so was turned off of 16 Mile, but decided to go check it out anyway.

Kayak Ontario’s post on 16 Mile creek was a great starting point for this trip. For us, it’s a bit of a drive so I wanted to make it a longer paddle, so my first question was, can you get into the lake from the creek? The answer is yes, with a short portage, like 20 feet maybe, so VERY doable.

The launch spot is a dock at the side of South service Rd. The big problem with this is parking, which in spite of being a paved shoulder there actually are signs saying no parking, which people seem to just ignore? This is right beside someone’s property so I can only imagine they are none too impressed.

An alternative would be to go to Charles Daley Park and then you can launch on the side of the beach. This is where I will launch next time, and yes, there will be a next time, we enjoyed the paddle. I bet this is a super beautiful paddle once the leaves start to turn …

So my intrepid paddling partner in crime had not seen the derelict at Jordan Harbor so I pulled out my phone and using RunGPS I was able to easily see the distance to the wreck, 3.26KM right along the shore. So we set about … portaged the boats into the lake and off we went. The shoreline of lake Ontario here is a mix of steep banks, and an assortment of break waters most made of old construction waste, with the occasional accessible spot. On the day we were paddling the weather was threatening all day, so given this is a great lake I was concerned what if the lake blew up quickly, being so close to shore I knew we could just hit the beach somewhere so this seemed super doable. To get over to the wreck, in mildly choppy water, with some wind, took about an hour. Frankly if your just going to see the wreck, launch at Jordan Harbour, it’s much closer. But where’s the fun in that 🙂

Once over and back from the wreck we explored 16 mile pond. To the bottom of the creek it’s about 2.7Km which we did in under an hour. The water is smooth, somewhat dirty, and it’s surprising how quickly the noise from the QEW faded. Being the fall, there were CONSTANT sounds of air cannons going off from the vineyards. A sad distraction to what would otherwise be a peaceful and serene paddle. There’s a good amount of nature, we saw black crowned night herons, great blue herons, TONS of cormorants and others.

The cormorants are really taking it over and your hard pressed to find a tree without one in it. If your paddling near the shore watch out or your likely to get pooped on 🙂 It’s no where near as bad as Cootes … yet.

The wind can pickup and as you can see in the map above, it’s pretty much a straight body of water so there will be nowhere to break the wind.

All in all this is a lovely, somewhat relaxing paddle. By adding in the lake we were able to get in a SIGNIFICANT (for us) paddle.

Map of the row

Summary of the paddle:
Difficulty: The lake part depends on weather so plan ahead and be careful. The Pond itself is quite easy/beginner
Length: We did 14.9KM by adding the lake pond itself would be under 6KM
Time: We did 4hr 31 mins, the pond itself would be well under 2 hours.
Launch spot: Don’t launch were we did, head for Charles Daley Park

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Oxbow in Brantford

I’ve heard a lot about this paddle from a number of sources Kayak Ontario, as well as the Hamilton Kayak club on facebook. This is a LONG paddle so you need a reasonable amount of time and flexibility to make it happen, which has been the sole impediment to date. From start to finish, even without including travel time to/from it took us over 5 hours. So I set about my usual level of planning. We drove in and went directly to the place we were going to take out. This let me mark the spot on my Garmin fenix 5 as well as on Google maps. This paddle in unique in that you launch, paddle down stream all the way (and a LONG way), get to your end point and you have a small walk back to get your car, but, it’s worth noting, once in, your committed to the trip. Trying to end it early is not going to be easy.

So we start at the launch point. It was very well described in Kayak Ontario’s post. There is a large parking lot under the bridge and a simple shore side launch. This is called Cockshutt Bridge River access and is open from April 1st to Dec 1st according to signs. It’s located here. It’s free to launch, and parking is free.

And your underway. The paddle is all down stream. There are occasional eddies but overall this is a gentle easy paddle. Paying attention to the water will help you avoid bottoming. I bottomed only once in the entire paddle and it was because I stopped paying attention.

The river is reasonably clean, somewhat muddy but quite quiet. In a lot of places your far enough from roads to hear nothing but the sounds of nature. In spite of the parking lot having a number of cars in it, we saw few if any other paddlers, really quite amazing. There was occasional noise from trains, and motorcycles in places but for the most part, quite serene.

We saw a reasonable amount of nature from a deer by the shore, the usual shore birds, lots of turkey vultures over head, tons of king fishers, TONS of turtles, the occasional heron and the like.

As the river winded and meandered down there were times the wind was in your back and other times it was in your face, but at no time was it even remotely challenging. As usual approach the eddies at right angles to avoid being rolled.

We stopped by the shore for a lovely relaxing picnic lunch to give us a break and just enjoy the day. Given the length of this paddle carrying along a snack is a good idea (signed captain obvious) 🙂 The shore is quite thick heavy clay but you can easily find places for a break. As always be aware of your surroundings and watch out for toxic plants, but we saw NO giant hogsweed or wild parsnip. I’m sure poison ivy etc are present.

Having prescouted the end, and adding it to google maps and my Fenix 5 I knew where we were taking out, here. It’s a point just off Newport Rd before you get to the bridge. From the water it’s marked by a large rock. The bridge is the first bridge over pass you encounter on your way back. Miss it and well you’re in for an adventure. There’s a small winding trail back up to the rd.

Once back out it’s a short walk back to the car and no need for two cars. Not the most pleasant walk but easily doable.

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable paddle. It takes some planning and some time management to make room for it, but well worth it. We really enjoyed it! While the first time we’ve done this paddle … it won’t be our last … we’ll be back!

Map of the row
Map of the walk back

Summary:
Difficulty: Easy when we did it
Distance: 15KM
Time: 3 Hr 51 mins moving time + breaks
Launch spot: here
Take out spot: here

Luther marsh

We had read about Luther marsh and we super curious. It sounded like a perfect place for us, a possible chance to see a sandhill crane, lots of birds, paddling and hiking! So I set about planning. Luther marsh has some VERY significant “rules” around it’s use. From the web site: “Non-motorized watercraft including canoes, kayaks and rowboats are allowed starting July 31” … then “After Sept. 1, interior roads open to motor vehicles and motorboats are permitted. There are four marked boat launches. Boaters should be cautious because Luther Lake is shallow, weedy and full of stumps. Winds can create dangerous conditions. Keep all safety equipment current. Maximum 25 HP.” Ok so I guess I really want to be there sometime between July 31st and Sept 1st, got it. So we made that happen.

Luther marsh is BIG. At it’s widest spot it’s 4KM wide, and if you were to traverse the oustide of the marsh you’d have to paddle 18KM. When we got there the access to the North launch was closed, and we were obeying the rules so we launched at the main launching ramp which is just to the left after you go through the gate, follow the boat launch signs. The gate is not manned so make sure you have a pen, cash, and know where your going. They also would like you to fill out a boat access form which are there, or you can download it from the web site and prefill it out. The link on web site for a map of the place is broken, I’ve reported it, hopefully they fix it. For now here’s my map for you.

The main launch spot is sort of a soft sandy launch with 4 official parking spots. We luckily got a spot. Littered around the place, sadly, are shotgun shells, a reminder that this is an active hunting ground. “Hunters can go after geese, waterfowl, deer, ruffed grouse, woodcock and rabbits/hares”. There were also beer bottles, broken glass and the like at the launch spot so be careful.

Once in the water it’s quite clear, albeit shallow and weedy. There are lots of stumps sticking up as is common in reservoirs like this so be sure to take care. I’ve been told there are also places where construction materials including rebar are sticking up. We were in inflatables so kept our eyes open.

The sheer size of the place means that it can get quite windy, surprisingly so. And unluckily for us, the day we were there it was quite windy, making paddling across the open water “energetic”. When the wind is at your back it’s easy to enjoy and forget that you will need to paddle against that same wind on the way back (signed captain obvious). Looking at our track you can see, we barely scratched the surface of what it can offer.

While there we saw a lot of egrets, a few great blue herons, a few terns, kingfishers, but sadly no sandhill cranes. Where we paddled, we were surprised at how few birds we had seen.


Map of the row

Overall this is a nice paddle, in clean water, peaceful and serene. Once done we decided to checkout one of the hiking trails over to the lookout. The trail is really more intended for cars/bikes, honestly I’d skip it next time around.

Map of the hike

Summary:
Difficulty: If the wind is high it’s challenging, otherwise it’s a gentle easy paddle
Distance: We wimped out and only did 8.4KM tuckered out by the wind
Time: 2hr 42 mins
Start/End: Main launching ramp.

Chantry Island (Southampton)

I last blogged about paddling the Saugeen from access point 14. No trip to Southampton would be complete without seeing a sunset looking over at Chantry Island.

Chantry is a bird sanctuary and has been for a long time. I’ve been over many times by power boat but wanted very much to do it by kayak. We launched from Southampton beach right near Gerry’s fries. There’s a soft sandy beach, some free parking, and easy access to the water.

We waited for a nice calm day to launch. Lake Huron, like any of the great lakes can blow up quickly so keep an eye on and check your weather forecast before you head out.

The lighthouse stands bright for all to see! In days past, a long long time ago, you use to be able to sneak your way up to the top of the light house, which was an amazing view!

I haven’t been over to chantry in quite a while. It use to be dominated by gulls. These days the gulls are fighting for their space with cormorants that are taking over. As is the usual, the cormorants are defoliating trees, poisoning them. There was a shocking number of them. Kinda reminded me of Hamilton. The paddle over to chantry from the beach is around 20 minutes. The open water can be busy with motor boats so be ware. We did it on a Monday morning and it was more than manageable.

For now there are plenty of ring bills, herring and a Bonaparte’s gull still around the island. Some of them even pop themselves into the trees with the cormorants.


As you approach the island from the front the chorus out of the gulls reaches a fever pitch 🙂 They really can yap! We interestingly saw a pair of great blue herons in the middle of the gulls/cormorants.

As interesting and accessible as the front of the island is, the back of the island is dotted with shoals that are interesting to see and can be explored. At some times of the year there are lots of fish in the shallow waters. We went around the back to explore, but didn’t explore the shoals, I was concerned about the weather turning on us.

The water at lake Huron is so blue and clear, it’s amazing. I’m so use to being in murky dirty rivers it’s a real treat.

Overall it was a lovely paddle.

Map of the row

Start/End: Southampton beach right near Gerry’s fries
Difficulty: All depends on weather, it’s a great lake after all. We did it on a calm day and it was an easy paddle
Distance: 5.1KM in 1 hr 47mins but you can add as much of as little as you like

There are two other paddles in the area that were on my todo I didn’t get to. Beaver river in Collingwood, and Sauble River. The details for both are listed in the Spring 2019 Todo list.

Saugeen river from Access point 14 (Southampton)

I’ve been going up to the Southampton area since I was a kid (actually I’m still a big kid:) ) but never explored other areas of the Saugeen river other than from Denny’s dam to the lake. My niece paddled this section and inspired me to look into it. There are a ton of access points to the Saugeen that are readily accessible, with parking, and free to use. I can’t say enough about the way Bruce county has ensured the public has access to the water, rivers and lake. Other places have allowed property owners exclusive access to the shoreline making it difficult for the public, not the Bruce. Finding the access points takes a bit of digging. Water levels really vary wildly based on the time of year and it’s not impossible that parts of the Saugeen can be difficult or impassable.

In planning I decided we would do something a little different here. We dropped a bike at the take out spot, which was Denny’s Dam, and then drove to the put in place. The current is strong enough that this would be very difficult if not impossible to return to your take out spot. I mapped it out and it’s an easy enough ride back. I marked Denny’s dam on my Garmin fenix 5 so I knew when we were approaching the dam in the boat on the way back.

We launched at Saugeen Access point 14 which is super easy to get at and get in at. Reasonable amounts of parking, but this is a rural/remote area. I again marked the point on my Fenix 5 to know how to find the car on the ride back.

Once in, the river is reasonably deep here and the current in gentle. Throughout the paddle there are lots of eddies where the current moves pretty quickly. There are submerged rocks in the eddies that you need to keep an eye on and not get sideways in or you could end up getting dumped.

Our inflatable kayaks require very little water depth and even with that we occasionally bottomed. Nothing bad, and I never felt unsafe. The water itself is relatively clean, but will be muddier after heavy rainfalls. We ran into someone at the end that tried the same path in a canoe and they found it “treacherous”, so I guess your results may differ :).

The paddle was super gentle with the current doing most of the work as we glided down. There were little to no off shoots to worry about on a map to make sure you didn’t get blocked, with the exception of one that went around the back of an island and was blocked by a fallen tree, but this was obvious and easy enough to paddle back up and then take the other path around the island. Actually it was an Osprey that distracted us into this path.

On the way down the Saugeen we saw a LOT of Giant Hogsweed, they seem to be taking over. If you get out of the boat, be very careful and never touch or smell this noxious plant, in case your not aware it can cause severe skin burns and blindness.

The bluffs are particularly steep and pretty as you paddle down.

The take out at Dennys is pretty obvious, on the left side as your coming down and the dam itself has protection around it. At one point there was a dock there but it was on the shore where we were there. There’s an easy stair to bring the boat up when your done. If you want to (we didn’t) you can portage around the dam, it would be approximately a 300m carry and you could carry on down to the lake.

Nature wise gulls dominate the scene with the occasional cormorant. We also saw the Osprey mentioned above, great blue herons, a green heron, lots of kingfishers, Canada geese and the like.

When your done with your paddle, be sure and checkout Soutampton’s sunsets, which are beautiful in that it sets over the lake!

Overall this was fun paddle and a short bike ride. As an alternative to the bike ride Thorncest Outfitters can shuttle you or you and your boat. For just a drive back to the start they said they would charge $20.

Map of the row
Map of the ride back

Summary of the row:
Start: Saugeen Access point 14
End: Dennys Dam
Difficulty: Moderate, you need to watch for submerged rocks in the eddies that could tip you
Length of the row: 8.7Km which we did in 2.5 hrs

There are two other paddles in the area that were on my todo I didn’t get to. Beaver river in Collingwood, and Sauble River. The details for both are listed in the Spring 2019 Todo list.

Port Rowan Lake Erie paddle

When we were done our Big Creek paddle we came back and had lunch at The Boat house and noticed a sign in the parking lot about a canoe launch. Looking further I found two right there at the foot of dock st. Neither were in Paddling.com so I added them and encourage you to do the same, it helps others. The first launch point is a beside the lake muddy but free launch site for canoes/kayaks. Putting in anywhere on the edge of the harbor is easy and there’s lots of free parking and this is where we chose to launch.

There is a second place to launch that is more of a concrete launching ramp, but is not free.

I give a huge shout out to Lions and Port Rowan for making sure there is somewhere the public can get access to the water unlike so many other places that are so crowded with private properties you can’t get near the water.

Launching from here a gentle paddle through the harbor and your out into the tail end of Lake Erie. Like any of the great lakes it can blow up quickly, can be quite rough, and can get quite windy. The shore here is relatively pretty but has quite a few marinas/yacht clubs/trailer parks. Even with that, at least while we were there, it was not outrageously busy or noisy. We saw some nice wildlife including a green heron, kingfishers and the like!

All in all it was a lovely paddle. You can make it as long or short as you like!

Map of the row.

Summary:
Difficulty: VERY dependent on the weather. We did it on a calm day so it was easy
Distance: we did 5KM but you can do as much or as little as you like
Start/End launch point

Big Creek (Port Rowan)

We were going out to see the Canadian Raptor Conservancy a sort of zoo for raptors and were looking to do some paddling around the area. Big Creek National Wild life area looks very promising on the map, of course what you can’t tell on the map is if the waterway is passable or just marsh. We decided to stay right in the heart of Port Rowan at a Bed and Breakfast called Seasons House. We were thrilled with our stay here. Very comfortable, and the hosts were lovely.

In doing research into the paddle I had thought of starting at the south end and coming up but locals had suggested staying to the north end. We ended up launching at Cronmillers At the Bridge. It’s super convenient and Judy there was super nice. We paid $5 per kayak and $5 for the car. From here you can head out into Lake Erie or you can head into Big Creek by going under the bridge. Cronmillers does get flooded but this time we were fine. Some locals were launching just North of the bridge on the side of the rd/creek. We took the advice of locals on our first of two paddles here and headed due west along the top of Big Creek. Just north of the creek for a lot of it is Murray Marsh where you are greeted with a plethora of signs telling you in no uncertain terms, KEEP OUT 🙂

We headed all the way across to the bridge at Lakeshore Rd HWy 42 which you can also launch at for free. The marsh part of the row was lovely with lots of nature present, a bit of wind, but very calm water/current. As we got into the narrow section of the creek the black flies became voracious. There’s lots of birds around but be forewarned, your on the bugs menu 🙂

For this paddle we did about 9.7K in a leisurely pace of 3 hrs 20 mins. Other than the bugs, and the pointed signs, it was quite nice.

For the second attempt at this paddle we again launched at Cronmillers and this time headed down south to see how far we could get. This was a bit challenging in spots due to heavy growth. If you follow where the growth is not so heavy, this is more often than not where the best water current is anyway. We picked our way down following maps on RunGPS to let me navigate. The paddle was lovely, breeze was nice, and bugs were a lot more manageable. We got a long way down this time. We got in 6.8KM in 2.5 hours.

We still had waterway that was navigable but were met with signs again telling us to keep out so we turned around and headed back.

Map of the row.

Big Creek is a lovely quiet serene place to paddle. Little to no traffic while we were there and too small for motor boats. There can be lots of birds around we saw black terns, herons, tons of swallows, turkey vulture and the like.

Once your done you can have some local fare at The Boat House which serves up some great local perch/pickerel on a lovely patio. Or head on over to Burning Kiln winery who have some awesome wines, a great story and a lovely patio!

Be aware that there are places in the area where cell signals are spotty. I found having an offline way of navigating like CoPilot handy.

We tried a little hike at the birding trail but this was frivolous in that it was so over grown you couldn’t even see the marsh, and again the deer flies were voracious. Couldn’t stop for even a minute without getting eaten alive. And that’s with bug spray. This was about 2.7KM, and we did it in about an hour, trying to out run the bugs. Map of the hike

Lastly we also tried to do a little hike at Backus woods, but again gave up due to bugs. We did however see a pair of Indigo buntings! Map of the hike.

On the way home we stopped by Port Dover just for a look around and had lunch at local institution that is Knechtels. We looked into paddling Silver Lake while we were there but more than half of it is an impassable marsh.

Summary:
Difficulty: Very easy, little wind/current
Distance: We did 9.7Km and 6.8Km without even going into Lake Erie
Time: We did 3hr 20 and 2.5hrs
Start End: Cronmillers At the Bridge.