Kayaking in Ottawa: 16 Best Spots to Kayak

A wonderful way to spend a day in the summer or fall is kayaking in Ottawa and there are many places for kayaking in Ottawa, suitable for both novice and expert paddlers.

We’ll give you the lowdown on where to rent kayaks if you don’t have your own and the greatest paddling spots in Ottawa.

Kayaking in Ottawa

The Tay River’s tranquil waters make paddling enjoyable even for folks like me who have weak upper body muscles. White water kayaking in the Ottawa River & Mississippi River is an option for the more daring.

One of the best paddling locations in the entire province is just a one- or two-hour drive away from Ottawa for anyone wishing to enjoy canoeing and kayaking nearby.

There are many places for whitewater kayaking in Ottawa River like Ottawa valley canoe, Ragged falls provincial park, Rideau River, and many places featuring boat rentals for day hours.

The Ottawa Valley is the name of this region and “The Valley” is a region west of Ottawa that follows the Ottawa River from Arnprior to Deep River and continues west to Barry’s Bay.

1. Lake Calabogie

Calabogie Lake is one of the best lakes in the area for canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding due to its crystal-clear water and breathtaking vistas of some of the tallest hills in the Ottawa Valley.

The Madawaska River empties into the lake’s southern way at Barrett Chute & exits through the hamlet of Calabogie on the north side. Comes in the best places for Kayaking in Ottawa.

Along the edges of this sizable lake, paddlers will find several entry spots, as well as a selection of lodges, resorts, & campgrounds for those looking to go away for the weekend. Calabogie Peaks Resort offers paddleboard, kayak, and canoe rentals.

Kayaking in Ottawa
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Exploring Grassy Bay, a flooded wetland area off Calabogie Lake, is a particularly pleasant half-day trip for seeing wildlife and waterfowl. A causeway that was first constructed as a crossing for the defunct K&P Railway line divides this serene, marshy inlet from the lake.

Keep an eye out for great blue herons, loons, and migratory geese and ducks in the spring and fall. At the public boat launch on County Road 511 in Calabogie; the center is parking accessible behind the visitor’s center.

2. Ottawa River

The Rocher Fendu rapids of the Ottawa River are renowned for their enormous waves, exhilarating rapids, stunning scenery, and warm water—the ideal combination for thrilling Ottawa river rafting. The Ottawa River is known throughout the world as a whitewater playground.

The Ottawa River is one of the best rivers close to Ottawa because of its gorgeous flatwater, even though its more serene portions are frequently overshadowed by its thrilling attractions.

Access to Highway 17 is simple throughout the entire Ontario coastline. A kayaking day excursion can begin in just about any town, resort, or campsite all along the river and is among the best places for kayaking in Ottawa.

Most of the Ottawa River’s shoreline, from Mattawa down to the Pembroke region, is public land that can be used for camping.

Deep River to Oiseau Rock and Fraser Landing, Petawawa to Fort William, Quebec via a beautiful island archipelago, & Westmeath to Bellows Bay wetland and sandspit are a few one-day routes that are proposed.

Image by DEZALB from Pixabay

The Ottawa River is without a doubt the best kayaking location in Ottawa. It provides kayakers of all skill levels with a spot to paddle because it runs the length of the city. Stick to the portion of the river close to downtown Ottawa if you want a tranquil kayaking experience. There are several areas to stop & rest here, along with mild currents.

The Ottawa River grows increasingly practicing further maneuvers might be seen practicing their rapid’s maneuvers here. It’s one of Canada’s top spots for whitewater rafting.

The majority of the Ottawa River’s renowned whitewater resorts provide guided and unguided flatwater excursions by sea kayak, canoe, or paddleboard in addition to rafting, rentals, and lodging. Discover hidden swimming holes and jumping rocks.

3. Barry’s Bay, Bark Lake

Bark Lake is farther away from Barry’s Bay & upstream of Kamaniskeg Lake than its more well-known sibling. At Bark Lake’s northwest arm, a delta of islands serves as the entrance for the Upper Madawaska River, which leaves the Middle Madawaska close to the lake’s southern end.

Bark Lake’s rocky shorelines and deep forests are 90 percent crown property, which means there is little development and little access.

Paddlers can enter the lower lake at Bark Lake Dam, along Siberia Road near the Madawaska River outlet. A public launch off ON-523, located 7.5 km south of the community of Madawaska, provides access to the northwest arm.

Sunny Hill Resort is located on Bark Lake’s eastern shore. Comes in the best places for Kayaking in Ottawa.

Image by Nevena Djidara from Pixabay

Sunny Hill Resort is situated on a picturesque, grassy hillside with RV sites, and sun-kissed campsites overlooking the mesmerizing sunsets over Bark Lake.

The all-year-round resort provides a full range of services, as well as canoe & paddleboard rentals on its natural sand beach. Visitors can paddle in the protected waters of nearby Littlebark Bay when the wind is strong on the main lake.

4. Round Lake, Provincial Park of Bonnechere

Due to glacial meltwater from the last ice age, when this region was the delta of a massive spillway that emptied the Algonquin Highlands, Round Lake has crystal-clear waters and fine sand and is one of the best places for kayaking in Ottawa.

Paddling explorations of the lake as well as the Bonnechere River, which flows through Round Lake, can be started from two provincial parks, which are both handy and picturesque starting sites.

At Bonnechere Provincial Park, which is close to the community of Round Lake Centre, a straightforward half-day trek leads upstream from the lake all along the meandering Bonnechere River to Jack’s Chute.

Kayaking in Ottawa
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Exploring the river’s oxbows, which are home to turtles, fish, ducks, and deer, is one of the highlights., After your paddle, head back to Round Lake for a swim, or try your luck at bass, pickerel, pike, and lake trout fishing.

On the eastern edge of Round Lake, not far from Bonnechere Provincial Park’s more well-known beach and campgrounds, is a hidden gem called Foy Provincial Park.

Because Foy is a non-operating park, you will need to leave your car at the gate along Red Rock Road and walk your boat or board to the park’s stunning, golden-sand beach from a stately forest with mature white pine, oak, aspen, and birch. Beyond the beach, a ring of little islands allows leisurely paddling excursions.

5. Golden Lake

The Bonnechere River goes past Golden Lake close to the picturesque community of Killaloe on its journey from Algonquin Park towards the Ottawa River.

Comes in the best places for kayaking in Ottawa. Public launches are accessible at Bonnechere Lodge on the lake’s southern shore as well as Station Park in Killaloe (approach the lake by paddling down Brennan’s Creek).

Photo by Matthew McBrayer on Unsplash

At the mouth of Bonnechere River, Golden Lake Park campsite and Bonnechere Lodge & Cottages provide canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals. Campers and day tourists take pleasure in exploring the river’s upper region.

6. Lake Doré

Lake Doré, which lies close to the medieval village of Eganville and the Bonnechere River, is named for the golden hue of its cool waters. One of the best day trips from Ottawa may be taken to this lake, which is close to the city and has a great public beach & launch at Melissa Bishop Park.

Paddle north down the shore a short way to the Snake River from the park. The river flows gently to Shaws Pond, an old millpond now home to the Shaw Woods Environmental Education Centre’s attractive walking trails, old-growth woodland, and informative exhibits.

Shaws Pond is a bird-filled wetlands area. Consider making the 270-meter portage to avoid a dam for a longer day trip and comes under the list of best places for Kayaking in Ottawa.

7. Lake Muskrat, Cobden

Narrow and lengthy Muskrat Lake runs adjacent to Trans-Canada Highway 17 and has Cobden at its southernmost point. The 14 km long lake is located in a preglacial valley that was once a fault line. Each side of the lake offers distinctly diverse vistas.

The east of the lake is bordered by a rock escarpment that rises more than 60 meters above the water, while the west bank of the lake is framed by pastoral agricultural fields that are low-lying.

The north end of Muskrat Lake is where paddlers looking for a more private experience should focus; there is a public launch there with a small parking lot at the intersection between Cornerview and Faught roads. You have a few excellent possibilities from here: Paddle to the lake’s mouth while turning to the right.

Kayaking in Ottawa
Photo by Mackenzie Wiebe on Unsplash. Copyright 2017

Turn left to paddle out the lake’s end onto the Muskrat River, or turn right to paddle across the lake to the Snake River’s mouth. Comes in the best places for kayaking in Ottawa.

As the second option enters Mud Lake’s bird-filled wetlands, the first option traverses the Snake River Conservation Reserve. These two-day trips are great canoe & kayak routes for seeing wildlife, such as otters, muskrats, herons, wood ducks, and sandhill cranes.

8. Clear Lake, Foymount

Lake Clear is one of the best lakes in the area for paddlers thanks to its crystal-clear water, a scattering of uninhabited islands, and its picturesque location tucked among the hills of the Bonnechere Valley.

A few island campsites attract overnight canoe and kayak excursions, and the clear water allows fisherman to see their prey.

For paddlers on Lake Clear, two public access spots provide convenient launches. Lake Clear Beach, near the northern end of the lake, has beautiful sand and a gentle slope into the deep, cooling water. Start from here for a calm paddle to Hurds Creek, which is close by and is certainly one of the best places for kayaking in Ottawa

There, you might see snapping turtles or perhaps peregrine falcons performing aerial maneuvers above the cliffs. Make your way to Big Rock around sunset, where you can climb its summit to catch the sunset.

9. Lake Kamaniskeg, Combermere

One of the largest and most attractive lakes along the Madawaska River system is Kamaniskeg Lake. Fishing enthusiasts know Kamaniskeg for its enormous northern pike, smallmouth & largemouth bass, walleye, lake trout, and rock bass.

The several bays of the lake, which stretch from the town of Barry’s Bay in the north to the community of Combermere in the south, are reachable from a variety of public beaches & launches dispersed along its shores. Comes in the best places for kayaking in Ottawa.

Given its immensity, paddlers should decide which area of the lake they want to explore before choosing an entrance point.

Blackfish Bay, which can be reached from the Combermere public launch and is located at the other end of the lake, is well renowned for its abundance of largemouth bass.

Kayaking in Ottawa
Photo by Vlad Vasnetsov on Unsplash. Copyright 2021

Launch from Hinterland Beach for a scenic day trip that includes wonderful swimming, picnicking, and the chance to paddle over a century-old shipwreck. Then, follow the lakefront north through a natural pinch point known as The Narrows to reach a pair of uninhabited islands.

Search for the Mayflower wreck off the larger island’s northern coast, where you may also go ashore for cliff jumping and swimming at rock points. The winds in this area of Kamaniskeg can cause severe waves, so save this visit for a calm day.

10. Lake Madawaska

Beginning at Source Lake at Algonquin Park, the Madawaska River goes for 230 km on its easterly trip to the Ottawa River. The river winds through several huge lakes and areas of quiet water throughout this path, alternately meandering gently and roaring through breathtaking rapids.

One of the best sites to kayak close to Ottawa is the “Mad,” which is a stubborn river that has been partially tamed by hydroelectric dams but is still largely undeveloped and full of thrilling whitewater rapids for both beginners and experts.

Three main river sections are popular with whitewater kayakers. Algonquin Park and Bark Lake are connected by the Upper Madawaska, which includes a 27-km stretch of difficult Class II-V whitewater between the settlements of Whitney & Madawaska.

Between Bark Lake & Kamaniskeg Lake, there is 5 km of Class I-IV rapids known as the Middle Madawaska. Last but not least, the Lower Madawaska is a fantastic educational river that provides a well-liked Class I-IV day run as well as a 40-km downriver overnight trip and is one of the finest places for kayaking in Ottawa.

A small section of Class II to III whitewater near Palmer Rapids, which is ideal for park-and-play paddling, is the focus of a fourth alternative.

Contact the renowned Madawaska Kanu Centre just on Middle Mad for whitewater paddling instruction, retreats, and riverside lodging, or the Paddler Co-op, which is situated immediately below the final set of Palmer Rapids.

11. White Lake, Braeside Township, and McNab

White Lake, which is located south of the Madawaska River and close to the historic village of Burnstown, has beautiful, clean waters with a complex network of inlets, arms, islands, and narrows that are ideal for canoeing and kayaking.

Despite the lake’s 16 km length, it has approximately 100 km of shoreline, the majority of which is undeveloped. The nearby hardwood forest explodes with gorgeous autumnal hues in the fall and therefore it comes in the list of best places for kayaking in Ottawa.

With a wide range of campgrounds, RV parks, and cottage rentals for overnight visitors, the north end of White Lake has the most amenities. Paddlers can use the White Lake Village Beach or Waba Cottage Museum & Gardens’s public boat launch & picnic areas.

Kayaking in Ottawa
Photo by Andrew Svk on Unsplash. Copyright 2021

At the far southern end of the lake, along ON-511, a municipal boat launch and beach are also present. Drop in for some peaceful nature paddling here among wetlands that are abundant with wildlife and a gorgeous archipelago of forested islets.

12. Clayton Lake, Mississippi

The Indian River flows through farmland & mixed hardwood forests in Lanark County, passing past Clayton Lake not far from the village of Clayton. At Clayton Taylor Park’s public launch, paddlers can park & put in.

The best way to appreciate the lake’s enormous wild rice beds and ideal turtle, duck, & marsh bird habitat is to circle it in a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. You reach the mouth of the Indian River by following the northwest shore. Search for picnic areas beside the river and on the tiny islands in the lake.

Anglers can try their luck catching perch, bass, walleye, and pike. Check out such two family-run campgrounds for lakefront camping & rustic cottage accommodations.

13. Lake Dow

Among the best places for kayaking in Ottawa, Dow Lake is one of the popular sites for kayaking in Ottawa.

It’s a man-made lake right in the middle of the city, and it’s the ideal place to go kayaking for the day in the summer. Even from here, you may kayak to the Rideau Canal!

14. Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park is the ideal kayaking location if you’re looking for somewhere nearby Ottawa. Gatineau Park in Quebec, right over the river, provides some of the finest kayaking in the region.

Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash

There are numerous opportunities to venture off the path in this vast park, which offers over 361 km of paths to explore. There are also many opportunities to venture off the main track and discover your kayaking paradise.

Depending on your degree of expertise, you can choose the ideal location from a variety of lakes and ponds. You may even kayak across to Luskville Falls if you’re feeling particularly daring, but make sure to check the tides ahead of time to avoid getting stuck on a sandbar.

15. Jacques-Cartier Park

Jacques-Cartier Park is located in Gatineau, Quebec, just over the river from Ottawa. It’s a terrific area for kayaking because it’s in the midst of the city and you can paddle there to see views of all the top landmarks and comes among the greatest locations in Ottawa for kayaking.

The ocean is the ideal place to view motorboats! It can be choppy if there are multiple motorboats out in the summer, but it is frequently protected enough to be manageable for beginners to intermediates.

16. Petrie Island

On Petrie Island, which is close to Ottawa in the Orleans area, kayaking is a well-liked pastime. On one of the island’s three beaches, you can choose the best spot to set up your kayak and spend the day there.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Among the top locations kayaking in Ottawa. There are lots of opportunities for picnics and beach relaxation, making it an excellent location for a day trip.

Final Note

The Ottawa Valley, often known as the “Whitewater Capital of Canada,” is home to some of the nation’s fastest, cleanest, warmest, and safest rivers. However, did you know that the region is also home to more than 900 picturesque lakes?

The Valley has something for every paddler to discover and enjoy kayaking in Ottawa from the pristine, crystal clear waters of the Algonquin & Madawaska Highlands to the peaceful sections and screaming rapids of the magnificent Ottawa River.

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