Guelph Lake conservation

We headed out to checkout Guelph Lake conservation area on a cool, windy, foggy day, 10/8/2018, thanksgiving weekend. The water level was REALLY low. I would 4-6 ft lower than it’s peak.

Even with the water level this low there’s lots to explore. It’s quite large. We only did a small portion of the reservoir, ran out of time. The wind was quite brisk, and there was a bit of chop but nothing too bad.


Nature wise there’s lots of Canadian geese, cormerants as well as a few Kildeer, spotted sandpipers and of course great blue herons. Lots to see and enjoy. The water is relatively clean and didn’t smell too bad.

At the gate they recommended due to the water level to launch at the Guelph rowing club. Here there was a concrete slab launching ramp that let us get right to the water with our car even with the low water level. There were docks there too. The lake itself when we were there was VERY empty. We only saw a couple fishermen. All in all it was a good place to paddle and I will definitely go back. It was on the todo list for the spring and we decided to get er done! There’s a 5KM hiking trail as well as some biking you can do while there. They do rent kayaks, but when we were there they were closed for the season so I can’t say anything about the quality of the boats.

We did about 7KM in about 2 hours and 16 mins in what was a fairly easy paddle with lots of time spent enjoying nature. The wind was brisk but manageable.

Map of the row on Garmin.

Summary:
Difficulty: Easy paddle, easy launch
Distance we did 7KM but that could easily be stretched to 11KM. We did it in 2 hrs 16mins with lots of time spent enjoying nature
Start/End: Guelph rowing club

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Rouge river south (in Scarborough)

We decided to checkout the Rouge river in the south end by the lake. The day before we had a heavy down pour, something I didn’t think about when choosing the place to paddle. We launched at the end of Lawrence Rd. This is a shoreline that is quite muddy and gooey but a relatively easy place to put in. There is no launching ramp perse.

You could also launch further up towards the lake where there is a nicer beach but you would have to carry a bit further. There is a reasonable amount of parking here, and it’s free, but be aware it gets very busy here so earlier is better. You will have to elbow your way into the shoreline, as the fishermen line up early.

Once in the water if you head towards the lake you find it’s difficult without a carry over to get into the lake. And at the point where the river meets the lake it can be a bit of a surf so not the easiest place to get into the lake itself. We didn’t bother, steered by a local kayaker and headed up stream instead. There’s a lovely foot bridge and a noisy well used Go train track in the south. There are three parts you can explore, marked 1, 2 and 3 in the image:

Number two is the main river which is where we spent most of our time. I will come back to 1 and 3. The river itself, when we were there, the day after a heavy rain, had a surprisingly quick current. The further we got up the more noticeable it was. Narrow places in the river took quite a bit of paddling to get past. The river itself is fairly shallow and fairly muddy, although again this was after a VERY heavy rain. I don’t mean to keep emphasizing this, however, it might be completely different otherwise.

On our way up we saw some crows, red wing blackbirds, lots of Canada geese, a raccoon, a sole cormerant, and king fishers to name a few.

You can paddle all the way up to Kingston rd, which the first bridge north of the 401. Above Kingston rd the current get’s quite brisk and your going to get a good work out. Up towards the top of the row, after we got back, I noticed I’d continued up Rouge river, but what is called Little Rough river appears on the map to be more significant. No idea if you could have go any further up that way. We eventually got to the point where there was a concrete water break that was challenging to get past. We got almost all the way up to the foot bridge over the Rouge from Glen Rouge campground.

We came back down and decided to explore the two offshoots. Number 3 is a smaller one, but we refound the heron, and kingfishers. This one is VERY weedy, and very shallow. Towards the end of it the water lillies take over and your done. Where I paddled in the map is about the only part that wasn’t covered in the water lilies.

So onto number 1. This one is readily viewable as you drive in and there is even a small boardwalk beside it. In this one we saw a couple trumpeter swans, a great egret, and blue herons. The map itself shows the ability to get into large offshoot. If there is a way to do this, it wasn’t evident. I’ll admit I was about done at that point anyway, but it just seemed like the water lilies had taken over again. If you could get into that area it looks like there is a fair bit additionally to explore.

All in all it was good paddle with some fun at the top. It took a bit to get to the top, but it was fun doing so! And the benefit is on the way down you can practically drift back through the fast water …

Map of the row on Garmin.

Summary:
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous towards the top, but you could choose to skip that. Tricky to get past as you approach Glen Rouge campground
Distance: We did 8.1Km in just under 3 hours with lots of time exploring nature
Start/End: end of Lawrence Rd.

Mountsberg

We stopped by Mountsberg to check it out after I had seen a post on the Hamilton Kayak club on facebook. This is a reservoir so it is pretty much what one would expect. The water is fairly shallow, and quite weedy. It’s a large reservoir, and there’s enough to get in a reasonable, gentle paddle. Lots of little inlets to explore. There’s not much to challenge you so it’s not a bad spot for beginners. If your looking to challenge your kayaking abilities … mehhh this might not be what your looking for. The place is quite busy with anglers (who don’t seem to have much luck, but keep trying anyway :)).
The lake is divided by an impassable railway crossing on the south east end. To launch your Kayak Launch on the West side near Rd 14.

The launching ramp (and I use this term loosely) is a bit rough and not in the best shape.

There’s reasonable amounts of parking. If your looking for more things to do once your done be sure and pack a lunch and some shoes and you can go for a hike or see the birds of prey exhibit (we did neither, poor planning).


We saw lots of turtles, a great blue heron, Canada geese and the occasional soaring bird. Overall nature was allusive but it’s clear they were around, could have been the heat. The lake itself especially where we launched had a bit of an unpleasant fishy smell to it.




Map of the row on Garmin.

Summary:
Distance: We did 5K but you could do more in just under 2 hours with lots of time spent looking for nature.
Difficulty level: Easy
Start/End: Place to launch

Island Lake conservation area Orangeville

Island Lake conservation is another lovely gentle paddle filled with lots of nature. The water is a little weedy, shallow in places and stinky in places … what you will be rewarded with is lots to look at from lovely boardwalks that make up a nice hike when your done

to tons of wildlife. In our time there we saw finches, kingfishers, herons, loons, turtles, lots of Canada geese and more.


Being in a kayak affords on an opportunity to be up close to nature. Approach quietly and it’s shocking just how close they will allow you to get to them and their world. This sport and the ability to take along my SLR in the boat is going to turn me into a damn birder. Speaking of which theres a great forum on facebook called Ontario Birds. I digress …

Back on topic, their are two launch points the first just on the left as you come into the park is intended for kayaks and canoes. It’s a little broken but still a nice place to launch with a nice sandy beach making getting in and out of the boat a breeze. Further down there is a boat ramp and there are canoe and kayak rentals available. This is a busy park. Parking can be challenging in the dead of summer. The waterway has a reasonable amount of people enjoying the day, and there are lots of anglers and some motor boats (but hardly any). Even with these it’s a lovely peaceful quiet row. It can be noisy up towards the picnic areas, and the stage.

We headed down towards the end and the further we got from the hiking trails the more nature stopped hiding.

At first I was shocked how few different things we had seen and then we got down to what they call a reserve.

This is where we saw the loons. The loons themselves were a bit skittish and didn’t let us get to close. There are lots of islands you can explore around.

On the way back the wind had kicked up but this is a fairly small body of water so presented little challenge. This is another easy beginner paddle, and with the rentals it’s a good choice. But as mentioned above it does get busy.

When your done there is a lovely 8-10KM hike around the water you can do that takes you over some boardwalks, onto some islands and nice and close to some of the birds. There’s also some pretty flowers and the like too. A little something for everyone. There are gravel bike trails you can explore as well.

All in all it was a lovely day in a lovely place.

Map of the row on Garmin.
Map of the hike on Garmin (only a small part of what you can do, we ran out of time.

Summary:
Distance: 6.6 Km in about 2.5 hrs with lots of time spent enjoying and taking pictures of the birds. You could easily extend this to around 8 or so as you can see we did not go around the entire body of water. We did go as far upstream as would be possible.
Difficulty level: Easy
Start/End: place to launch

Rockwood conservation authority

I’ve seen people talking about Rockwood conservation authority and seen the pics on conservation authority’s web site and thought it looked like a neat place to check out. The beautiful cliffs are particularly inviting

They do rent canoes and 1 or two person kayaks (as well as paddle boats). They are a bit pricey, the kayak was $20 an hour. We fussed with where to launch. If you park it’s a pretty long hike from the parking lot to the beach. So I asked for a suggestion and they said I should launch near the end of the beach. We were able to drive right up near the water, take the boats and our stuff out and then put the car back in the parking lot. This saved a lot of hassle. This allowed us to have a nice sandy beach side launch. Worked out perfect. And the rentals were right near there so it worked out well (we were renting one boat). You could also launch at the Harris Mill ruins where there is limited parking, and a rockier place to launch … But that would be an option as well.

We were off to the races, and started up towards the dam/mill.

As you can see the entire paddle is relatively small at only 2.9KM all the way around. We did a little extra and stretched it out to 3.8KM.

Rockwood is very pretty, but it can also be VERY busy.

Fortunately there are no motor boats, just canoes, kayakers, swimmers and paddle boats. There was surprisingly little wild life with a lot of Canada geese, the occasional turtle, fish and other birds. The usual herons, egrets, cormorants and the like I am use to were either hiding or not there. Up near the top of the row we came upon the Haris Mill ruins.

Followed by a small water fall you can kayak almost right up to.


You can portage around the dam, it’s a couple hundred meters. Sadly you don’t get far before it gets shallow and you have to get out and lift over. Then your off again for another short period of time before you come to the furthest you can get. The portage would add at most another 600 meters to your paddle, but this part is completely empty as people don’t bother. We didn’t, and frankly I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Rockwood is a perfect place for beginners, no wind, no chop, shores are close enough to swim to, and lots of lovely cliffs to see.
Map of the row on Garmin.
And once your done you can also do a hike all the way around the river, which we did. There are some spectacular views from the hike which a few of the pics above are from. There’s also a small cave you can checkout.

You can also swim (if your brave enough to ignore the floating patches of green) and dive off the cliffs.
Map of the hike on Garmin
Summary:
Distance: 2.9Km for a lap around the river
Difficulty: Very easy gentle paddle
Start/End:

Lake on the Mountain (Prince Edward county)

I was looking for a gentle easy paddle to finish off our time in Prince Edward county and this place always fascinated me, so on we went! Finding a place to launch wasn’t easy. So we decided to just pull up along side Lake on the mountain resort and walk our boats to the small boardwark there that is part of the provincial park, or what it ought to be called is a parkette 🙂 Getting into the boat was easy enough from here and off we went.

The water was super clear and it was a very gentle paddle. There was lots of fish around as well as wild life. We had one of the most memorable experiences when a pair of loons got up nice and close to us. We just stayed still and they went about their day fishing, magical!

All in all it was a lovely place to paddle!

Map of the row.

Summary:
Distance 4.9KM
Difficulty: Gentle easy paddle
Start/End: here

Weller’s Bay paddle (Prince Edward County)

As part of our recent road trip I decided we’d stop off in Prince Edward County. I haven’t visited the wine scene there since 2009 and so it was time. And of course, what better thing to do but find a nice place to paddle. We both now have Advanced elements AE1012 inflatable kayaks and they are a dream to travel with. No roof racks or straps to mess with. They inflate in about 10 minutes and away you go.

We were looking for a place to paddle and had this one suggested to us on the Kayak Ontario’s facebook page. We launched at Weller’s bay boat launch which had a nice dock and ample parking. The water was calm and clear. We paddled over to the shoal and didn’t quite make it to the Wellers Bay National Wildlife Area. Instead we came back and paddled around a bog area down to the south on the map below and found a lot more easily seen wildlife. This was a lovely gentle relaxing paddle. It was super hot but that didn’t deter us!

Garmin Map of the row.

Distance: 8.7 km in 3.17 hrs
Difficulty: easy/protected
Start/End: Weller’s bay boat launch