Housing a range of the most captivating natural settings and collection of scenic waterways in Ontario, there is no better way to explore Ontario’s Lake Country than by setting out onto the water. Executive Director of Ontario’s Lake Connecting picturesque towns and tourist Country. “You can really customize the destinations throughout Simcoe County, paddle for whatever people are looking this four season playground boasts a vari- ety of open water lakes, quaint rivers and meandering streams all which provide the perfect backdrop for a day spent breathing in fresh air and enjoying some of the best paddling opportunities, recreational boat- ing and water sports in Canada.
Whether your preferred mode of paddle involves a kayak, canoe, SUP board or engine powered boat, Ontario’s Lake Country guarantees a waterway perfect for your skill level; from the family that is new to the water looking to reconnect with nature, the young group in search of a challenging activity for the day or the avid paddling enthusiast on a multi-day trek. “The beauty of this area is that you can
do a basic paddle or you can do an extensive paddle for a number of days across a number of waterways because a lot of the water is connected,” said Jennifer Whitley, for.” Ontario’s Lake Country has developed a user friendly Paddling Guide that features various routes that are geared towards all levels of experience – from beginner to intermediate and from five to 15 kilometers. Each route features a map, launch location details, a description of the area and historical points of interest along the way.
Whether you’re a Lake Country local looking for a fresh perspective of your own familiar backyard or a visitor exploring the region with fresh eyes, the road less travelled is navigated by paddle.
This is called Ontario’s Lake Country – come in and enjoy the lakes!
ORILLIA’S CULTURAL ROUTE
Lake Couchiching (Easy)
Travel back in time along the shores of Lake Couchiching. This 10 kilometer amateur level route is about discovering the rich history of the city of Orillia and its important ties to the water; paddlers will traverse cultural landmarks and navigate their way around famous monuments and historical buildings found along Lake Couchiching’s shoreline.
Paddlers enter the water at the second beach in Couchiching Beach Park. The park is connected to Downtown Orillia and located on the grounds of the original village plot and industrial waterfront where steamboats carried lumber and passengers throughout the watershed – along the famous 383 kilo- meter long Trent-Severn Waterway canal – which is granting free access and lockage for the 2017 season along the famous canal in celebration of Canada’s 150 Anniversary.
From the water, paddlers will see the historic Champlain Sailing Club as they enter tranquil Old Brewery Bay; then you will arrive at the Stephen Leacock Museum, the summer home of the famous author. Continue along to Tudhope Memorial Park where you can see a bronze statue of singer and poet Gordon Lightfoot and a memorial to the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
More experienced paddlers can give the open waters a try; Whitley suggests heading away from the shorelines and cross- ing Lake Couchiching for a more challenging trek.
Free parking is available at the park and the loop takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. This route can be completed in either direction and has the opportunity to connect with great walking and cycling trails.
LAKE SIMCOE SHORES
Lake Simcoe (Easy/Intermediate)
This paddle is a destination for the fishing enthusiast looking for a quiet day spent out on the water. Pack a lunch, and your gear and drop a line in the well-known fishing hole of Lake Simcoe – the largest lake in Central Ontario. The lake offers opportunities for all individuals to sh; though with its close proximity to Toronto, you’re likely to not be alone – it receives heavy shing pressure throughout the season, although it is most popular for ice shing during the winter.
For those wishing to simply paddle and enjoy the scenery, paddlers are encouraged to launch at McRae Point Provincial Park and hug the shoreline of the sparkling waters. Be sure to keep an eye out for herons, hawks and ospreys as they love to catch their next meal on the bountiful lake. This lake can be made as dif cult as desired, pending how far you would like to journey in either direction.
PATH TO THE FISH WEIRS
Lake Couching and Lake Simcoe (Intermediate)
Paddle through a National Historical Site of Canada as you witness nature and history in tandem along the Path to the Fish Weirs route. This 13 kilometer paddle navigates travellers on a fairly advanced journey through Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching and into the Mnjikaning Fish Weirs.
Located just below the surface in the Narrows – the connection of the two lakes – the weirs are considered to be one of the oldest human developments in Canada – dating back to approximately 3300 B.C. They were of officially declared a National Historical site in 1982.
Ojibwe for fish fence, the Mnjikaning weirs are the largest and best-preserved wooden sh weirs in Eastern North America. This system of wooden stakes were used to catch sh entering Lake Couchiching and were once rich in food – with the seasonal harvest providing sustenance to the First Nations and settler communities.
The weirs were also known as a very important site of gathering and healing for First Nations people.
Paddlers will also pass a number of small islands which connect with a multi-use trail and offer parks, picnic stops and beaches.
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BLACK RIVER TO WASDELL FALLS
Green & Black River (Easy)
Renowned as the most scenic route in all of Ontario’s Lake Country, this eight kilometer looping paddle in the township of Ramara features natural marvels you must witness.
The paddle begins in the meandering Green River –a true hidden gem in the area for beginner paddlers and aptly named after the green tint of colour in the water – and then watch as the water changes before your eyes to a deep black as you connect with the Black River.
“You can see the line where these two rivers meet,” said Whitley. “You see the green tinge to the water so clearly and then when you meet at the Black River it completely turns black. We have tried to capture it by drone before and you just can’t capture it accurately; you have to see it with your own eyes.”
Tucked away within nature and surrounded by a stillness only found in the remote wilderness, Whitley said this route is great for new paddlers because it is easy to navigate and too shallow and narrow for motor boats to enter – so you’re almost guaranteed very little traf c and calm waters.
“Everything about this route makes for a perfect, calm and serene paddle through these waterways for beginners,” said Whitley. “And for more seasoned paddlers, it is an ideal route for taking in nature and serenity.”
Meander through beaver lodges, pass marsh areas filled with herons and sh and witness other wildlife in their natural habitats. Paddlers can also head towards Wasdell Falls where they will be able to view the first generating station constructed by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission in 1914.
SERENITY OF MACLEAN LAKE
MacLean Lake (Easy)
Pack your shing rod and de nitely your binoculars; this route is a must paddle according to Ontario’s Lake Country. The 15 kilometer MacLean Lake water trail is famous for its beautiful natural setting and almost guaranteed wildlife sightings.
“There is a section of the river that goes through a marshy piece of land and it is beautiful,” said Whitley. “There is plenty of wildlife: Beavers, otters, ducks, sh, turtles, blue herons – lots of wildlife can be spotted along this route.”
A perfect, cottage-country lake, this scenic paddle is also perfect for the property lover. Dotting the shoreline is a number of picture perfect private homes and cottages.
The lake also connects to the notably serene Otter Lake, Gloucester Pool and Little Lake which can take paddlers all the way into Port Severn for those wishing to make a day of it and go for a more advanced trip.
BASS LAKE SHORELINE
Bass Lake (Easy)
Located in the township of Oro-Medonte, this 11 kilometer looping route takes you around the quaint Bass Lake. Comprised of shallow, clear waters, this is the perfect lake for children and those getting into a boat for the first time. The shorelines have remained fairly undeveloped, creating a sense of seclusion and a chance to reconnect with nature. Keep your eyes sharp though, wildlife is likely to be spotted along the undeveloped west shoreline that includes a marsh area.
This little lake is home to one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks and includes on site facilities such as camping, picnic areas, a beach, a playground, a retail store and rentals on site; you can also stop along the route to rest and grab a quick bite at a nearby restaurant.
There are various locations to access the lake, but it is recommended that you launch in Bass Lake Provincial Park.
PADDLE OF NORTH COUCHICHING
Lake Couchiching (Easy / Intermediate)
The perfect route for a short family outing, this five kilometer route is a great paddle for young families or individuals looking to sneak in a quick workout during their day.
A gateway route, this paddle connects to a number of picture perfect small inlets and picnic areas. It also lends a great opportunity to tie in the use of Washago Centennial Park – which has a great sandy beach perfect for swimming, relaxing, picnicking and playing. The village of Washago is also only a short distance from the park and a perfect day trip or a quick bite to eat.
This route can be easily expanded by paddling further into Lake Couchiching or connecting into the Severn River.
MATCHEDASH TO GEORGIAN BAY
Matchedash Bay & Georgian Bay (Easy to Advanced)
A diverse and versatile route, this is known as a great activity spot for both new and experienced paddlers – especially those who love to kayak.
These diverse interconnected bodies of water offer a range of conditions for the new paddler looking to practice on more open waters; spanning from Matchedash Bay to Green Island – an anchorage located in the Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands National Park.
Paddlers can enjoy the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay, experience the rugged beauty of the rock formations along Green Island and paddle through the beautiful scenic back- drop. Paddlers can also connect to the Coldwater River Route [See Coldwater River Voyage] through the opposite end of Matchedash Bay.
For those with more experience, they can travel out further into the vast open water of Georgian Bay and explore further. But be forewarned: Ontario’s Lake Country notes that winds can blow out of nowhere along the Bay and transform those calm clear waters into extreme waves in the matter of minutes – so make sure you are a con dent paddler before venturing away from the shoreline.