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Paddling the Rideau Canal
Rideau Paddling Travel Ideas

The following are just a few travel ideas for the Rideau. Several of these are detailed in the Rideau Paddling Travel Guides. Look at your first couple of trips as exploring the possibilities. Once you've "discovered" the Rideau you'll come back again and again. My main word of advice is to avoid "beelining", don't look at a trip as a point A to point B paddle - explore the shorelines, bays and islands. Take your time. Use the Town of Perth's motto to "Make Haste Slowly."

For links to the references to accommodations and put-in and take-out locations in this section please review the Paddler's Trip Planner Page. The Paddling FAQ also offers valuable information.

Day Tripping
Bedford Mills
Bedford Mills
The Rideau is ideally set up for day trips. No point on the Rideau is more than a 2 hour drive away from Kingston or Ottawa so you can be very flexible on your starting and ending points. There are dozens of publicly accessible put-in and take-out locations, including the 24 lockstations, dozens of launch ramps, several conservation areas and two provincial parks.

If you are travelling in group you can leave one vehicle at your destination point to return to your starting point. I solo a lot so my starting and ending points are the same, but given the shoreline on the Rideau there is no need to backtrack along the same route.

A few of my favourite day trips are:
  • Indian, Benson, Mosquito, Clear & Newboro Lakes - a nice day or weekend trip. Put in at either Chaffeys Lock or Newboro Lock. Paddle up to Bedford Mills. Lots of nice swimming opportunities.
    See the Chaffeys Lock to Newboro Lock Paddle Guide

  • Whitefish Lake/Morton Bay - put in at Seeleys Bay (public docks) or Jones Falls (Hotel Kenney). If you put in at Seeleys Bay, enjoy lunch (or just ice-cream) at Jones Falls. Morton Bay offers great scenery and swimming.
    See the Brass Point Bridge to Jones Falls Paddle Guide

  • Opinicon Lake - put in at the public ramp just before the swing bridge at Chaffeys Lock (beside the Opinicon dock). When you are done the day's paddling enjoy dinner at the Opinicon Hotel.
    See the Jones Falls Locks to Chaffeys Lock Paddle Guide

  • Merrickville/Kilmarnock - put in at either the Merrickville or Kilmarnock locks (quieter at Kilmarnock). A river paddling experience. The more adventuresome will head up Irish Creek to Jasper. The less adventuresome will stop for lunch and shopping in Merrickville.
    See the Edmunds Lock to Merrickville Locks Paddle Guide

Weekend Tripping
This is really the same as a day trip and any of the day trips above will also provide for a good weekend trip. Come up on Friday night, camp and spend Saturday and Sunday paddling. On a weekend trip it is a great experience to travel through at least one lock. Any of my 18 Day Paddling Guides can be used as a weekend trip.

Week Tripping
In a week you can see a lot of the Rideau. You can set this up as a round trip, follow one shoreline up and the other shoreline back so there is no following the same route. Or, if travelling in a group, leave a vehicle at your planned destination point. Another option is bus, Flixbus serves Kingston and Ottawa. For details of their schedules see:

Cottage/B&B/Inn Tripping
An easy (& decadent) way to spend a bit of time paddling the Rideau is to rent a cottage or stay at a local B&B or Inn on the Rideau for the time you plan to spend (a weekend, week or longer). You can paddle right from the cottage/B&B/Inn and easily day trip from your location. You'll know that after a day of paddling you have nice comfortable bed to return to. You can pick the best weather days for paddling and take another day or two to tour the Rideau by vehicle and check out potential sites for next year. Accommodation information can be found on my Rideau Accommodations Page.

Shoreling Whitefish Lake
Shoreling Whitefish Lake
A term for "Shoreline Paddling" this is always interesting on the Rideau. By following the shoreline you get to see all sorts of different cottage architecture and property development (see my cottage tour and boathouse tour galleries on my photo gallery page). This is also where most of the wildlife hangs out. Whether you do it as a day, weekend or multi-day trip it is much more interesting to putter along the shoreline than it is to beeline it between locks.

Lily Paddling
The Rideau is host to several Class 1 wetlands, home to all sorts of wildlife. One of the best times to paddle these is the spring before the lily pads are out and while migratory birds (i.e. ducks) are still around. In the summer many back bays are full of lily pads, which, although challenging paddling, can be interesting, home to frogs, dragonflies, turtles and many species of birds. A few of my favourite lily paddles are:
  • The Swale, Smiths Falls - put in at the Smiths Falls Detached lock (lots of parking) and paddle through The Swale, a Class 1 wetland, up to the lock at Poonamalie.
    See the Rideau Ferry to Edmunds Lock Paddle Guide

  • Merrickville/Kilmarnock - put in at either Merrickville or Kilmarnock (quieter at Kilmarnock). Enjoy paddling the Rideau Migratory Bird Sanctuary south of Merrickville (best in the fall during migratory bird season - watch out for stumps), the Big Marsh (few stumps) and/or up Irish Creek (lots of lily pads).
    See the Edmunds Lock to Merrickville Paddle Guide

  • Tay River - put in at Lower Beveridges and either portage or lock-through Upper Beveridges and paddle the Tay River up to Perth. This route goes through lots of marshland (especially if you follow the old meanders of the river) and doesn't see a lot of boat traffic.
    See the Tay Canal Paddle Guide

Trip Itineraries and Logistics

New for 2021 is an addition of suggested trip itineraries for a Rideau transit trip (Kingston to Ottawa). This is a common question I receive emails about, but a difficult one to answer due to the many variables. This is in the full paddling guide, but I'll also include it here as a separate download:
 Trip Itineraries and Logistics

Lily Paddling
Lily Paddling in Sand Lake

Comments: send me email: Ken Watson

©1996- Ken W. Watson