mattawa river

Spend a day paddling the Mattawa

Today’s post comes from Jess Knowlton, Assistant Discovery Leader at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

People travel far and wide to paddle the historic Mattawa River.

For the full experience, most people take 2-5 days to paddle the full the 64 km from North Bay to Mattawa, which can be quite challenging, even with proper research and preparation.

If you want to enjoy this beautiful river but don’t have the time to commit to a multi-day canoe trip, don’t want to portage, or are looking for a nice and easy day trip, you’ve come to the right place!

Here are four of the most popular and breathtaking day trips along the Mattawa River:

Trout Lake to Turtle Lake

This day trip is an excellent choice that is suitable for all levels of paddlers who want to experience the full beauty of the Mattawa River.

This day trip begins and ends at MacPherson Drive in Corbeil.

After launching from the public boat launch you will see the Stepping Stones formation at the mouth of the Mattawa River.

The Mattawa River has been used by Indigenous Peoples, including Algonquin and Métis communities, since pre-colonization. Stepping Stones is a culturally and spiritually significant place for the Algonquin nation.

After the Stepping Stones, you can continue down the river to Turtle Lake where you can view a dam and explore the islands that dot the lake.

After exploring you will make the trip back to MacPherson Drive, noticing the remains from blasting to widen the river on shore near the submerged Portage de la Tortue.

Lake Talon

Lake Talon is the largest lake that the Mattawa River flows through.

This beautiful lake has many bays and islands that provide enough to see for days of exploring.

view of tree reflecting in water

Pack a lunch and have a picnic at Grasswell Point campsite. This site was once a rest stop for Indigenous Peoples and voyageurs on their journeys.

You can gain access to Lake Talon from the public boat launch at Blanchard’s Landing.

Pimisi Bay to Talon Chutes

This is by far the most popular day trip along the Mattawa River.

You will launch at Pimisi Bay and paddle approximately 2 km up the Mattawa River to Talon Chutes.

A wide river winding through tall, dense forest.

At the chutes you can explore the portage, go for a swim, and take some stunning pictures.

Below the falls you will notice a rock sticking out of the river, it is known as The Watchdog. This was a spot that Indigenous Peoples and voyageurs left offerings for the river spirits to allow safe passage.

Pimisi Bay to Campion Rapids

If you are looking for that multi-day canoe trip feel, complete with portages, long stretches of paddling, a waterfall, sandy beach, impressive cliffs, and stunning views, this is the day trip for you!

This is a linear route, meaning you will finish your trip at a different access point then where you started.

people paddling in rapids

There are seven short portages along this stretch of the river. More advanced paddlers may choose to bypass some of these portages and run the rapids that require technical paddling skills.

The mandatory Paresseux Falls portage is a great resting spot with an impressive 6 m waterfall.

Another point of interest along this route includes The Gates of Hell or Porte de L’Enfer. Voyageurs thought it was home to a man-eating demon, but in fact it was one of the few Indigenous red ochre mines in Ontario.

A waterway leading to a small waterfall, surrounded by tall trees

As you continue down the Mattawa through an impressive gorge, you can stop for lunch on the sandy beach at Elms Point campsite.

This day trip ends at Portage Campion in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

A vehicle pass is required to park your vehicle during the day. At the end of your day trip, stop by the Mattawa River Visitor Centre to learn more about the history of this canoe route!

Plan ahead!

Although these day trips may seem simple, it is always good practice to bring a map and communication device on your adventure.

If you plan to head out on one of these day trips, plan ahead, make sure to pack your safety equipment and know where you are going.

Purchase a Mattawa River map at the Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park Store, Algonquin North Outfitters, or online.