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Coulonge River Canoe Trip: A classic Ottawa Valley whitewater river trip. It offers great Canadian Shield camping, stunning waterfalls, enjoyable class 1 & 2 rapids. A wonderful way to enjoy the summer outdoors.
This easy adventure canoe trip is geared for the intermediate and less experienced paddler. While whitewater experience is helpful it is not necessary—a strong flatwater background will put you in good stead. For those who want we can spend lots of time teaching on the river’s enjoyable class I and II rapids. Some nights we will camp beside spectacular falls or rapids. This is one of the finest wild rivers in central Canada and our river trip is sure to provide paddling enjoyment for canoeists of all skill levels.
(Note: this is a suggested itinerary only, conditions on each trip may vary)
After meeting the group in Rapdis des Joachims (Swisha) we will load our van and head north to the headwaters. The drive should take about 3 hours. We will have lunch at the put in location and then head out onto the water for the afternoon. We will conduct a review/instruction session regarding whitewater paddling before heading off down the river. We will encounter some easy rapids the first day, the river in this section being small and technical. The Campsite will likely be on an ancient road bed from the logging era. There is lots of space for tents and campfire with a great view of the river.
The river character is similar on day two, although the rapids start to build slightly. We will likely spend about 5 hours on the water, with breaks for lunch, snacks and scouting of course. We will encounter a number of class I and II rapids on the first day and some larger RIIs the next. We will also encounter several beautiful Chutes and Falls today which will be portaged 100m and 400m respectively. There will be more RI’s and II’s in the afternoon as well as a couple of larger RIII rapids and ledges which we usually run or line after careful scouting.
A relaxing day follows as the river flows swiftly along through typical Canadian Shield country. There is good current and swifts where we can expect to cover 30km in a day. We’ll portage 500m portage around Chute Gautier, (nice swimming below the falls). Devil’s Chute is bypassed with a short portage. Little Devil Rapids below can be run followed by a number of other enjoyable rapids and easy fast paddling. Chute Enreage and Chute Allinotes ar both bypassed by portages. The next 8km include several swifts and small rapids and one very nice class 2 rapids. We will camp at a spectacular “Shangri-La” site at the head of the Bear Falls portage.
The rapids begin with a great class 2-3 which will require careful scouting. The rapid is normally run, although some may choose to line the more difficult sections. This rapid is soon followed by more class 2 and 3 rapids all of which can be run for those who wish. The rapids during most of the morning are fairly constant with one following the next. In the afternoon they give way to swifts and fast current all the way to the take out which we would expect to reach late in the afternoon. About 20km today.
* Please note: It’s the nature of remote northern travel that uncontrollable factors like poor weather, pilot judgment, forest fires, and mechanical problems can affect our schedules and cause delays. We regret these situations but cannot accept responsibility for hotels, flight rebookings, and other costs you may incur.
The Coulonge is one of seven wild rivers that flow into the Ottawa River off the southern edge of the Laurentian Highlands through an area dominated by a forest cover of black spruce, white and red pine, and pockets of white cedar and white and yellow birch. As the Ottawa is approached on the southern reaches of the river, maples and ash become a more significant part of the forest. The fauna of the River Valley includes moose and black bear as well as a variety of smaller mammals such as beaver, muskrat and otter. Fish, particularly pike and pickerel, can be caught along the river. Bass, speckled trout and lake trout live in the deeper pools along the river or a few miles back in the tributaries.
The river has played an important role as a north-south transportation corridor in the economic history of early groups of Canadians. The Hurons and other central Ontario tribes who wished to avoid paying the toll which the Allumette Natives charged for portaging across the island used the Coulonge & Dumoine rivers as an alternate route to the Ottawa River on their way to Montreal. This also allowed the agriculturally oriented Hurons to trade their products with the nomadic Algonquins who inhabited theKipawa and La Verendrye region to the north but who rarely came south for fear of encountering the Iroquois.
I was hoping that you could thank [Brian and Matt] again for us and let them know what a remarkable experience they facilitated for my wife and I. We will certainly remember it for a lifetime. We had so much fun that we can hardly decide what trip to do next.Jeremy MillerThe meals!! Exceptional, varied, delicious and nutritious come to mind. Meals are never an ‘afterthought’ with highlights including such as sushi on the river bank featuring freshly caught Arctic char, cheese fondue, chocolate fondue ... each meal offers something to look forward to at the end of a hard paddling day.Merrilyn Lindsay business ownerI have known and paddled with Shawn since 1974. He is an amazing guide and canoeist and I have canoed with him from Northern Ontario to the far Arctic, east to west coast. I lead my own local Ontario canoe trips every year, but when I want a guided remote wilderness adventure, there is none better than Shawn and Wanapitei Canoe to take me there.David Wilkie, DVM professor and veterinarianI did my first big canoe trip with Wanapitei in 1980 and had a wonderful experience. I have done many since and always have enjoyed the good leadership, organization, and company on each one, not to mention the great rivers.Peter Milliken, PC lawyer and politicianPaddling the Hess River with Shawn this summer was a thrill and the adventure of a lifetime. The river, country, wildlife, and as important, the people on the trip were all a superb. The whole experience was first rate and an inspiration to do more.Didier Maclaine Pont invester/paddlerAfter not having canoed since my teen years, I was excited but nervous about taking up my paddle again in midlife. Shawn's skill and experience made my trip with him one of the best I could have imagined. I highly recommend his trips.James Gardner vp - marketingI had an incredible time—nothing short of amazing! I'll be back, as they say.Chris Cunningham author