Canoeing the Nottawasaga River
The Nottawasaga River offer canoeist and kayakers of all levels of ability an opportunity to explore a wide variety of ecological habitats. The main branch of the river runs 121 km, starting near Alliston and ending at Wasaga Beach. In between lies the internationally-significant Minesing Wetlands, with 15,000 acres of swamp, fen and marsh to explore.
Paddle Route Map
NVCA's Paddle Route Map is available to help plan your trip along the river. It can be downloaded below, or contact the NVCA office to request a paper copy.
Nottawasaga River Canoe Route Map June 2014
Travelling Down the Nottawasaga River
Middle Nottawasaga River
Starting in Nicolston, this section of the river features a series of small rapids making it suitable for more experienced paddlers.
Experience wilderness paddling close to home! The internationally-significant Minesing Wetlands feature swamps, marshes and fens to explore.
About this section - Nottawasaga River: The Nottawasaga River (Angus to
Edenvale) is navigable however, there are significant log jams (up to a
couple hundred metres in length) that may require portaging – and very slippery
banks to ascend.
About this section - Mad River: The Mad River route is navigable but be
prepared for small log jams, tight squeezes and/or short carry-arounds. The river
opens up as it approaches the Nottawasaga River. Similar to the Willow Creek Marsh, it can be a lake in the springtime with no clear reference points (and attendant dangers). The
“re-entry” point (where it enters the silver maple swamp is at UTM 587350
4917146 (Lat/Long 44.402254 -79.903071). Please note that the Nottawasaga often
backs up into the Mad River at this point – in these conditions you actually
have to paddle upstream (north) to get to the Nottawasaga – though you’re sure you
should be heading downstream.
Willow Creek Marsh
This route through the Minesing Wetlands showcases open marsh habitat. Birders will not be disappointed.
About this section: Launch at the Willow Creek Corral on George Johnston Road and exit at
Edenvale Conservation Area (Hwy 26) - about 4-5 hours. There is a technical “narrows”
section about half hour into the trip - please follow the staked arrows to find
your way - the creek branches here and you can get lost/stuck if you take the
wrong branch. Many people get lost in the Willow Creek Marsh as it becomes
lake-like and you can lose the creek channel. The “re-entry” point (where it
enters the silver maple swamp near the Nottawasaga River) is at UTM 589089 4918425
(Lat/Long 44.414226 -79.881549). From there, the creek channel and
tree markers should be visible. Water levels are low so once you hit
the main river, you’re home free. Please note that windy conditions can
make the Willow Marsh very challenging/unsafe (whitecaps).
People get lost in the Minesing Wetlands
every year. It is important to have a compass and GPS and be familiar with
their use. And ensure you take all safety precautions (all safety
gear, clothing for the weather, water and food, etc.). Plan the paddle and paddle the
plan and ensure that someone (outside of the tripper group) is aware of
your plans. The wind can be a real safety concern in the spring in
terms of potential for capsizing and exhaustion - check
the wind forecast before you embark.
Jack's Lake is a popular open-water fishing spot, and is an easy paddle suitable for families with young children.
Lower Nottawasaga River
Enjoy spectacular dune formations and a great variety of plants and wildlife as you paddle this reach of the river.