A journey for any level of paddler venture past the Niagara Escarpment
The Beaver River canoe route follows the upper course of the Beaver River from the Town of Kimberley to the Town of Slabtown.
Approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) in length this can be extended by traveling the lower stretch to Thornbury in the Town of Blue Mountain on Nottawasaga Bay but this is not advised due to hazards, both natural and man made.
The route follows a once important transportation corridor for First Nations peoples and early settlers and the 40-kilometre (24 mile) fast running Beaver River was named by early explorers for the plentiful numbers of this sought after creature that were to be found in its various waterways.
As this part of Grey County began to be developed and settled the river was an important economic driver and served as a means of communication between fledgling communities.
Today this river valley fringing the Niagara Escarpment and Blue Mountain is a quiet place with tiny communities and countless apple orchards. It does however also serve as one of the best recreational canoe and kayak routes in Southern Ontario.
Location of the Beaver River Canoe Route
Beaver River Canoe Route Stages
- Stage #1
Stretching from the Town of Kimberley to the tiny community of Epping 10 kilometres (6 miles) downstream this is the longest portion of the route and passes through some beautiful areas of the river valley and the Niagara Escarpment.
The access point is just north of Kimberley off Grey Road #13. A sign marks the spot and free parking is available.
Fairly easy to navigate by paddlers of any experience short portages may be necessary around debris buildups.
Old Baldy Conservation Area
The area around Kimberly is beautiful as the valley through the escarpment created millennia ago by the Beaver River has left stunning landscapes including that at nearby Old Baldy Conservation Area.
Also known as the Kimberley Rock these towering 132 metre (400 feet) tall cedar and spruce topped cliffs have trails leading to the top offering stunning views of the Beaver River valley below.
The Bruce Trail passes through the site along the Escarpment’s edge and this 72-hectare (178 acre) location is one of its most visual and photographed spots, definitely worth a quick visit before you begin heading downriver.
There are no facilities at this park. For more information visit: Old Baldy
Expect to take about 2 – 3 hours to complete the journey and along the way you will pass through the forests and wetlands of the Beaver Valley Lowlands Conservation Area.
This protected area offers a chance to see a variety of wildlife including:
- White tailed deer
- Various waterfowl
This portion of the journey ends at the Epping access point on Sideroad #19.
- Stage #2
This 5-kilometre (3 mile) journey takes paddlers through rolling farmlands and agricultural areas from the village of Epping to the Town of Heathcote as the river winds its way north towards Georgian Bay.
Accessed at Sideroad #19 just off Grey Road #13 on the road to Epping there is signage at the put in and free parking is available.
This part of the river has many turns and bends and will take about 2 hours to complete. Suitable for paddlers of any experience for the most part the waters are very low moving but there are a few spots where the current picks up quite swiftly.
The natural beauty of the escarpment in this area is breathtaking.
On this portion of the route you will also pass by Mill Creek, one of the Beaver Rivers larger tributaries and Flower Bridge under 21st Sideroad.
- Stage #2
- Stage #3
This short 3 kilometre (1.8 mile) portion of the route travels from the Town of Heathcote to the small community of Slabtown.
Access is on Grey Road #13 just south of Heathcote, there is signage and free parking at the location
Free parking is also available at the Slabtown Town Dam, the journey’s ending point.
This part of the trip should only take about an hour to complete as the water is fairly swift and a number of small rapids will be encountered but it can still be completed by paddlers of all experience although extra care should be taken on this portion of the river.
Please note that the first three access points above are maintained by the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, for more information visit: http://www.greysauble.on.ca
Note: It is not recommended the paddlers venture further than Slabtown Road as the conditions on the river between here and Thornbury can become quite treacherous.
Check out this Beaver River video below:
Beaver River Canoe Route Attractions and Activities
Kayaking or Canoeing down the Beaver River Canoe Route however does offer a different perspective on seeing the regions natural beauty including the chance to see wildlife like:
- White-tailed deer
- Red Fox
- Great Blue Heron
- Great Horned Owl
- Green Herons
The river is also exceptional for fishing and a fish ladder downriver at Thornbury allows fish to reach its upper stretches.
The river is particularly noted for:
- Rainbow Trout
- Brown Trout
Unfortunately there are no camping spots along the route so accommodations with have to be made elsewhere such as Craigleith Provincial Park.
A nice way to have a true Ontario experience an adventure down the Beaver River canoe route is within 2.5 hours of most Southern Ontario locations.
If you plan on making the trip down the Beaver River and have no equipment an outfitter is available that also offers guided tours. For more information visit: http://www.freespirit-tours.com
The mouth of the river at Clarksburg and Thornbury in the Town of Blue Mountain area also worth exploring and offer paddling opportunities in there own right.
The trip is beautiful and offers different experiences in different seasons:
- Spring – the water is faster and more dangerous, suitable for more experienced paddlers
- Summer – perfect for paddlers of all types with stunning Niagara Escarpment landscape
- Fall – lower water levels may mean more portages but the colours are phenomenal
Travel down the historical route of the Petun peoples, once traveled by ancient warriors and early explorers. Now a journey into what seems a bygone time, the quiet forests, wetlands, pastures, orchards and meadows of the Beaver River valley are like a step back in time.