A Paddlers Paradise
To kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts, the Rideau Heritage Route is a “paddler’s paradise,” due to its calm, clear waters and natural sights. Kayakers and canoers of all ages and skill levels can get out on the water and paddle the 202 km stretch from Kingston to Ottawa. Access is very easy at any of over 30 launch ramps and most lockstations. Those travelling the length of the canal have the option of “locking through” the locks or portaging past them. Those camping will find it convenient at the many campgrounds or at the lockstations. Those wishing to enjoy a more decadent trip may wish to stay in a B&B along the route. With over 1,091 km (675 miles) of shoreline on the Rideau, there’s so much to explore.
Best Time to Paddle
One of the best times to go kayaking or canoeing on the Rideau is in May/June and September/October. During these months, there are fewer powerboats out on the water and more moderate temperatures in the region. Fewer visitors also mean more availability (and sometimes better prices) when it comes to accommodation along the route.
If you wish to paddle during the height of powerboat season (July and August), the trip can still be fantastic. Unlike powerboats, canoes and kayaks do not have to follow the channel. In fact, most paddlers prefer to follow the shoreline and take a less direct route from one lock to another, away from the noise and wake of powerboats, and closer to interesting sights on shore. You may even decide to portage into one or more of the canals numerous feeder lakes and rivers.
Best Direction to Paddle
If you wish to travel the Rideau in its entirety or to paddle a large section, the best direction to go is from Kingston to Ottawa for two reasons. First, the prevailing southwest winds blow in that general direction. There is nothing worse than tackling a large lake such as the Big Rideau and paddling for miles into a stiff, rough south wind. Second, as you approach Ottawa, the current becomes a factor to a small extent. Get your adventure underway with a visit to Trailhead Kingston or Ahoy Rental for daily kayak or canoe rentals, as well as fishing and camping gear. No matter where you go along the Rideau, civilization is always within easy reach. Make sure you take the time to explore the numerous colourful shops, gourmet restaurants and historical sites.