Paddling Jordan Harbour

If your like me you’ve driven past the wreck in Jordan harbour and seen it from the hiway and been curious. So paddling in and around it was on my todo list. Niagara traffic these days can be brutal so I waited for labour day to be past and then got up early and hit the water by 9 to avoid traffic. The drive was good and there was lots of parking when I got to Jordan Harbour conservation area. which is located here. At this location you will find two launching docks and a building storing boats for Niagara rowing school. If you use the dock a little further from the building it’s less busy. I asked about if it was ok to use either and was told yes and then got a boat load of attitude from someone at the docks that stores their boat in the building. Shrug. Sometimes I wish people would just get over themselves. Moving on … Once in the water a quick 15 min paddle takes you out to to the wreck. The boat has been there for a very long time but looks like it could fall over or a mast could collapse at any minute … It’s interesting to see it up close and personal. At this point, despite it’s once grand history it is a rusting derelict.

Back into the harbour there is a long gentle paddle awaiting you. This is again another quite muddy river. This one believe it or not left the biggest mark on my boat when done (easily scrubbed off). There are all the usual suspects present from jumping fish, to herons, cormerants, and the like. It is not one of the most nature rich paddles I’ve done but there are things to see. Up towards the QEW of course there’s the usual drone of traffic, planes can be seen, trains can be heard belching there horns at level crossing and farmers tractors can be heard abundantly. And if that didn’t give you a clue your in wine country the air cannons attempting to scare off the birds can be heard constantly going off. This is not an awful paddle, quite the contrary but don’t expect a lot of peace and tranquility. I saw little to no motor boat traffic and only moderate amounts of kayakers. There were a few stand up paddle boards and this would be a good sheltered place for it. Very little current or wind. A gentle paddle for sure.

On the way to the bottom you will encounter a duck and sheep farm.

I take pictures so you know I’m not making this shit up :)–

At the very bottom of the paddle is Jordan Valley Campground and they remind you that this is private property. It’s really quite amazing how far down you can go. You end up scraping a few rocks on the bottom of the boat but heh … who cares 🙂

And once your done your paddle you are super close to the escarpment appellation wineries. So a trip over was warranted. I headed over to Red stone winery. I’ve been very impressed with this winery a couple times now. Their roots are with Tawse winery but have transcended their humble beginnings and are making some super wines. They have a lovely patio you can sit and enjoy their wines and some fine foods. I had their elk stroganaoff along with their cab franc which was awesome.

And no visit to Niagara escarpment would be complete without a visit to one of my favorite wineries Kacaba
This was in it’s entirety a thoroughly enjoyable day. Well worth the drive! Another one off the kayaking todo list!!!

Map of the row

Time: 2:45 included time to see the wreck and all the way down both paths at the bottom as far as I could go!!
Distance: 10K
Level: Easy gentle paddle (plus whatever the lake has to dish up)
Start/end point: here.

Kayak Ontario’s write up on Jordan harbor


Lake Ontario from Bronte

Bronte is a lovely quaint harbor to launch from. Their launching ramp has been and continues to be closed due to the damage of the high water levels. They actually have gone so far as to hire a security guard to watch over the once proud, now fallen launching ramp 🙂 And the locals all do their part vocally in keeping you away. A short walk from the launching ramp is a beach on the lake front you can launch from, or you can find an open spot on the dock to put in. Once in the water you can do a nice paddle in the lake which is what I did this time. It’s nice to see some lovely blue water, as opposed to the murky brown waters of the rivers I’ve been paddling in more recently. The lake, like any great lake, can blow up quickly and get quite rough so be mindful. As always waves can be unpredictable as you exit the harbor, or as they are bounced off the break wall. Once out of the harbor a gentle paddle along the shore allows you see some beautiful homes.

Paddling over to the Suncor dock you have a nice protected area, out of the wind and waves. Just on the other side of it things definitely pick up.

You can add as much time/distance as you like in the lake. I went back and did some more time back in the creek and was treated to some up close time with a great blue heron, and some swans. I last paddled in Bronte creek and went right up to the top.

Map of the row:

Time: 1:55 but you can easily add more or make it shorter
Distance 6.9KM
Level: Beginner – Intermediate depending on the state of the lake
Start/end point: launching ramp

Christie Lake paddle in Dundas

I’ve seen this one talked about in the Hamilton Kayak Club on facebook as well as Kayak Ontario so decided to give it a try. When you come in you can easily be distracted by going to the Kayak rental and snack bar stand but this is not a good place to launch. Feel free to stop over here to use the facilities but launching is further down the end of the road to the left where you will find a great launching at the marina pavilion ramp and you can back right up and put in down towards the dam. Super convenient. This map helps to show you where to go, shamelessly pilfered from Kayak Ontario.

Be sure and bring along a change of clothes, some comfy shoes and something to eat. There’s a snack bar but your gourmet lunch will consist of chips and pop. That’s about all that’s in the snack bar. Within Christie lake there’s fishing, hiking around the lake, biking, swimming and so much more. Lots to do. And close by is Tew and Webster falls, more on that later. They do have rentals but don’t expect much.

Once in the water I headed to the west end of the lake. Down towards the end you run into a walking/riding trail that blocks your path. At this point you will need to do a short portage. Like 30m. But even on google maps it’s unclear that this is impassible on the water, which it is. None the less it’s easy to get out, carry your boat and stuff and put back in. And you will be handsomely rewarded for doing so. From the launch point it’s about 2km to where you need to portage. From there you can get another 2.4MK upstream before you get to a point where it’s too shallow to paddle and too strong a current to not. And that’s where on the map you will see I turned around. On the way I had to duck under a car bridge (Middletown rd) that is easy to get under as well as a foot bridge that even with the high water levels of today you can still sneak under.
Middleton Rd BridgeFoot bridge
Boat traffic is light in Christie lake but once past the portage point you are on your own. Peace and tranquility abound. And nature can be found like the usual suspects, herons, egrets, and even an eagle.
The path above the portage is narrow and weedy but very passable.

As you approach the highest point you can get to the current is quite swift and your paddling is brisk. But you will be rewarded on the way back down where you can have a leisurely paddle back down the stream. Ahhhh. What took me 48 mins to get up to 36 mins to get down, and a whole lot more coasting 🙂

All in all this is a lovely paddle, and I highly recommend it, and recommend the bother of the portage. The cost was $10 (for one person).

Map of the row including a little portage.
Map of the row just the lake.

There is hiking around Christie Lake but I didn’t check it out and opted instead for the falls which are up next.

There are also mountain biking trails on Trailforks. Map of the ride. It ends up being a super fast flowy, beginner level mountain biking trails. Here’s a youtube video of the Christie lake trails.

Once in the area I decided to check out Webster and Tew falls. The area around both falls are severely limited in parking so to provide relief what Hamilton has chosen to do is to have you park at Mizener’s and then shuttle you to the falls. The shuttles are school buses that run super frequently. For $15 they take you to both falls.

Once at either falls you get a severely obstructed view of both falls coupled with paths that are in very poorly maintained condition. If your even remotely a clutz, or out of shape, DO NOT go here. There’s no access to the gorge at Webster falls and when I was at Tews falls Spencer Gorge access was closed.
Webster FallsTop of Webster FallsTews Falls
And if you get thirsty, they have bottles of water for a whopping $6 … WTF. And the restricted view ended up in people doing no end of stupid things to see the falls. It’s no wonder Hamilton Fire dept is regularly called out to rescue people that have climbed over fences and done ridiculous things … I saw people climb down inclines that there was little to no chance of them ever climbing back up. I could go on and on about this, but I will leave you with this (yes that’s on a tree over the gorge, I can’t make this shit up. Darwin really does work way too slowly):

My advice, skip these falls.
Map of the webster falls hike
Map of the Tew Falls hike

Time: 2:36 including the brief portage
Distance: 8.4KM right to as high as you can go in the creek right up into Christie Wildlife area
Level: Beginner easy paddle. At the very top the current is somewhat strong
Start/End point: at the marina pavilion
Kayak Ontario’s write up on Christie lake

Grindstone creek paddle Hamilton/Burlington/RBG

I’d seen people talking about this paddle so decided to give it a try. With the high water levels you can get up much higher than in the past and right into parts of RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens). There’s an easy place to launch right off 867 Spring Gardens Rd Burlington (roughly speaking). There’s a little parking lot there and a launching dock of sorts. Once in the water you can go due south into Hamilton Harbor or North heading up to RBG. North you can go about 2.5 km up river. I had to get out of the boat a couple of times at the very top and honestly I got only a little bit further so don’t bother. On the way you will need to make your way under some very low bridges and over hanging trees due to the high water levels.

The water is muddy but not too bad. Weeds are also not that bad.

There’s some wild life but honestly I expected more. It is however a very gentle easy paddle. Little to no current so just wind to contend with. I saw no one else on the water in this section and it was on a long weekend. Near the top the creek gets super shallow and narrow making navigating a little tricky.

If your wondering what the walls around part of the creek are this might help out:

By the way I bought a new camera for rowing, a Nikon AW120 waterproof camera

Map of the row

Grindstone hiking trail is also there if you want to go for a hike, but the high water levels have this section closed for now.

But there is also RBG within walking distance and you can get into the Laking lake section of RBG fron the same parking lot. So take along some walking shoes and a good camera!

Time: Up and back down took about 1:32 mins (I added some time to the south bringing it up to 1:50 mins)
Distance: Up and back was about 5.1KMs (with the extra bit I added it brought it up to 6.1KM but you could easily carry on into Hamilton Harbor)
Level Beginner/Easy paddle very little current
Start/End: 867 Spring Gardens Rd Burlington
Kayak Ontarios write up on Grintstone Creek

Paddling Cootes Paradise in Hamilton

I’ve always wanted to explore this area I’ve seen from the highway and been near so many times and just haven’t. So it was high on the todo. It’s a bit of a drive but nothing too bad. The launch point is from Princess point canoe launch. There’s plenty of parking but it does get busy. It’s $1 and hour to a max of $5 to park. The launching dock has taken a beating with the current high water levels. So getting into the boat is a bit challenging but nothing insurmountable. Once in the water you will find the water a bit muddy/weedy. Compared to some of the other rivers I’ve been in it’s not horrible, but you don’t want to dunk for sure. There are plenty of off shoots to explore and a ton of nature.

At times you will be surrounded by so many birds as to wonder if your in a Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Paddling quietly in some of the shallower areas you can get up close and personal with some amazing wild life.

The water is super calm and little current, but there can at times be a good size wind to contend with. Overall, especially in the off shoots this is a gentle easy paddle. If you measure from top to bottom it’s only a KM, but add in the extra offshoots and you will find yourself in a much longer paddle than you expect. The map will show there is a HUGE section I didn’t even get to. Leave lots of time to explore! Overall this is a great place to paddle. Quiet, serene (with with the exception of Plains trains and automobiles), no idiot dragon boaters and the like to disrupt your solitude. Ahhhhhh Serenity now!!!

But don’t just go to paddle … there’s an extensive shoreline trail to explore, an aviary and lots more. Be sure to pack some comfy shoes, extra water and snack for when your done your paddle. RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) is extensive.

Map of the row.
A map of the hike

Time: 2:46 didn’t even cover it all, but you can add more or less per your liking
Distance: 9.1Km
Level: Beginner/serene
Start/End: Princess point canoe launch.
Wikipedia on Cootes Paradise
Kayak-Ontarios post on Cootes

Paddling 16 mile creek in Oakville

I’ve often seen a number of sections of 16 mile creek, including the section that’s visible from Spears, and wanted to check it out. I launched from TOWARF at the bottom of Navy, near Lakeside park, but to be honest, I don’t recommend launching here. You have to haul your boat quite a distance, and it’s not a launching ramp. A little further up the river is Shipyard Park that has a launching ramp but according to their Fee schedule they want a whopping $17.50 to launch from here. I emailed Oakville and got the response “Thank you for your email. If your canoe is located on the top of your vehicle then the $17.50 fee does not apply.”

Just a little further up the river is a launching ramp that appears to be free. There’s a bit of parking here but there is more in the back of the Library. You get at this off Water St from Randall.

The paddle up the river is a gentle one, sometimes a little weedy. There aren’t many off shoots to explore and compared to other rows it seemed to have the least nature around. Noticeably less. There’s two relatively large yacht clubs and Burloak Canoe Club run out of here with Dragon boats.

You can pretty easily get from the bottom of the river all the way to Spears rd with little to no obstacles. Once at Spears it is just too shallow to continue any further.

Here’s a Map of the row.
And another row in 16 Mile creek.

Time: 1:53
Distance: 7 KM
Level: Beginner/Easy gentle paddle
Start/End: launching ramp behind the library.
Wikipedia on 16 Mile Creek

Paddling the Humber river in Etoicoke Take 2

Last time I paddled down the Humber I started at the old mill and spotted this launch ramp. This is a much easier launch point and closer to the lake. It’s in King’s Mills park just off Humber Valley Rd, just below the Toronto Humber yacht club. Plenty of parking and it’s free. From here the current is quite slow, so this is an easy paddle. As before the Humber river itself is quite dirty, ie muddy. Depth is fine and there are a number of little ponds and marshes to explore. Nature has a way of hiding on this river but especially in the marshes you can find the usual suspects, swans, storks, herons and the like. It’s a pretty quiet river with very little motor boat traffic. All in all a very nice paddle. Coming down to the lake you can go west in front of the lake front promenade or go east. Going east in the lake there is a break wall that given the high water levels we have this year is almost under water, but this creates a nice protected section you can easily paddle along for quite a distance. To Sunnyside and beyond. To the east the beach front is sandy and you can easily stop for a break or a snack if you brought it. Map of the row.

Time: 2:20 (but you can shorten or lengthen this based on how much time you spend in the lake and in the marshes
Distance 8.1KM
Level: Beginner/easy paddle
Start/End: King’s Mills park

Update: 9/17/2018
I found another point to launch quite a bit further south, closer to the lake. This is a bit of a challenge to find, and frankly I got out of the boat and walked up from the ramp to figure out where it is. First locate the Petro Can located at 8 South Kingsway, Toronto, ON M6S 3S9, Canada. Just one driveway south is what looks like a construction entrance, but it’s all paved. There are gates but they are open. Follow this down and you will find a launching dock all ready for you to put in. The immediate area isn’t huge to park but you could always come back up and drop your car there. This spot would allow you to do a lot more of the lake by cutting out the 3 km up (and another 3 down) from King’s Mills Park. In all honesty, I have no idea who owns this land, but there are no signs prohibiting it, and there are people using it so it seems ok. The arrow shows where to get into it, and the red dot shows where the launching ramp is.

Wikipedia on the Humber