To prepare for our first full-length river paddle together, we consulted our newly purchased “Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario” book, then pre-seclected the best route that would give us – novice river paddlers – all that we’d need to have an enjoyable but challenging trip: a few short portages, a series of Class I river rapids, accessible camp-sites, and ample wildlife to see.
The Saugeen river is far from remote wilderness. It stretches along the scenic countryside of Bruce County in Southern Ontario, winding 102 km through picture-perfect farms, rolling hills, the Saugeen Bluffs, forested riverbanks, quaint little towns, a couple couches littered about, some bat farms, and dilapidated trailer shacks, until finally it drains into the mouth of Lake Huron.
The entire trip took us three days to complete, with four portages, and sixteen hours of paddling (though the book said it would take twenty). We paddled from Hanover to South Hampton, through rain, sunshine, mist, and a magical snow storm; stopped in on a couple quaint towns along the way; saw all sorts of mating birds and curious wildlife; and managed to complete a few to-do’s while we were at it.
If you’re looking for an unusual, Huck Finn(ish) paddling route, with a couple challenging Class 1 rapids, we highly recommend the Saugeen River in small-town Ontario.
Now we leave you with a charming ditty called “Southern Ontario” by our friends, Dog is Blue.