Ottawa River, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Driving time from Ottawa
When to go
The volume of water can dramatically change the rapids on the Ottawa River. If you want a challenge, high-water is your time, from when the ice melts until mid-June. Mid-summer gives mid-water levels while the lower water levels and slower waves of late summer and autumn are a great time for beginners.
Where to put in
You’ll find the put-in on McCoy’s Chute Trail, a small side road that offshoots from the intersection of Powers Road and Grant Settlement Road near Beachburg. Free river access is granted to recreational paddlers that are in non-inflatable vessels. Heads up: overnight camping and parking is not allowed here. There are two options for paddlers to take-out, both located 8km south of the put-in along Grant Settlement Road.
The Main or the Middle
Two channels – the Main and the Middle – make up the whitewater section of the Ottawa. The Main, as the locals call it, is the world-famous big water section. This is where the advanced paddlers and pro-stars flaunt their freestyle flair. Not a pro? No problem. With smaller waves and shorter rapids, you’d think Mother Nature designed the Middle Channel specifically for newbie boaters. This is the ideal run for practicing your peel outs, perfecting your roll and maybe even catching your first surf.
If you’re a beginner, we suggest sticking to the Middle at lower water levels.
Body surf’s up
If you opt for the Middle, be sure to stop at Butterfly Rapid. At nearly all water levels this fun little wave train offers great body surfing. An eddy on river left after the initial hydraulic is where you can pull up your boat. Jump in just below the first hole and surf your way down. Just be sure to stay on the left side of the wave train. It’s a hard feat to ferry across the train back to the eddy.
The calmer side of kayaking
The Ottawa River might be known for its big water and play spots, but this giant also has a gentler side. For those who like the calmer side of kayaking, check out the Ottawa’s Oiseau Rock, Bellowes Bay and Arnprior sections.