One of the premier canoe routes in Southwestern Ontario
The Saugeen River canoe route is one of the premier padding destinations in southwestern Ontario as it follows the course of the Saugeen River from Durham Conservation Area near the town of Durham to its mouth on Lake Huron at the town of Southampton.
The route between Durham and Hanover (access points #1 and #2) will not be covered as the waters can be dangerous, have many portages, and are not generally on the traditional route, guided or otherwise.
The route between the Town of Hanover and Lake Huron at Southampton is 102 kilometres (67.2 miles) long, falls over 1000 feet, and passes through some of the most scenic areas of the region. Rated as easy to moderate in difficulty (except in spring) it makes the perfect voyage for a paddler of any experience.
Three portages must be completed along the way and while the journey on a whole will take at least 3 days to complete it can of course be accessed at many points along its course. Access points usually have parking available. Blue and white boat launch signs usually mark the way and point to the access points.
Location of Saugeen River Canoe Route
How to get to the Saugeen River:
The only way to access this kayak and canoe route is to arrive by car. You must determine where you would like to enter and navigate to find directions to the destination. Traditional access points:
- Getting to the Saugeen River Canoe Route Town of Hanover
- Town of Walkerton
- Town of Paisley
- Saugeen River Conservation Area
Accessing the Saugeen River Canoe Route
Hanover to Walkerton
Length: 20 kilometres (12 miles)
Duration: 5 – 6 hours
- #3 – Hanover Town Park (paddle time to # 4 = 1 hour)
- #4 – Maple Hill Road (paddle time to # 5 = 3 hours) Portage
- #5 – Walkerton Lobies Park (paddle time to # 6 = 3 hours) 2 portages: Maple Hill Dam and Walkerton Dam
Walkerton to Paisley
Length: 42 kilometres (25 miles)
Duration: 11 – 13 hours
- #5 – Walkerton Lobies Park (paddle time to # 6 = 3 hours) Very scenic part of river with small rapids that can easily be traversed
- #6 – Concession #8 (paddle time to # 7 = 2 hours)
- #7 -Concession #10 (paddle time to # 8 = 3 hours)
- #8 -Brant-Elderslie Townline (paddle time to # 9 = 3 hours) pass through McBeath Conservation Area which is only accessed by the river and provides riverside public camping by donation.
- #9 – Paisley Hose Tower (paddle time to # 10 = 1 hour)
- #1 – Paisley North Bridge (paddle time to # 11 = 2 hours)
Paisley to Southampton
Length: 40 kilometres (24 miles)
Duration: 9 – 11 hours
- #10 – Paisley North Bridge (paddle time to #11 = 1 hour) pass by 115 feet high Saugeen Bluffs through Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area
- #11 – Saugeen Bluffs (paddle time to # 12 = 2 hours)
- #12 – Concession #4 (paddle time to # 13 = 2 hours) small rapids around several small islands in the river
- #13 – Bruce County Road #17 (paddle time to # 14 = 2 hours) skirt past Port Elgin
- #14 – Bruce County Road #3 (paddle time to # 15 = 2 hours) Set of rapids that can be easily traversed by those confident enough in their skills
- #15 – Denny’s Dam (paddle time to # 16 = 30 minutes) Largest rapids on Saugeen
Camping along the Canoe Route
Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area
- 200 campsites with 100 serviced
- Group camping
- full facilities
- canoe and kayak rentals
McBeath Conservation Area
- Accessible by the river only
- Limited washroom facilities only
- Riverside camping and group camping for up to 75 people
Lobies Park in Walkerton
- 68 campsites, 55 serviced
- Group camping
- Full facilities
Paisley Rotary Campground
- 46 campsites, 25 serviced
- Basic washroom facilities
Denny’s Dam Conservation Area
- Limited tent campsites
- No services
- Washroom facilities
A true paddling experience to complete the entire journey would take on average 24 hours paddling time.
Most paddlers thus pick a portion to complete and spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days on the water.
Different portions of the Saugeen offer different experiences whether it’s trying to get through a challenging set of rapids to meandering through dense riverside hardwood forests.
The most popular access is in the Hanover area while some of the most scenic portions include the area downstream from Paisley through the Saugeen Bluffs.
A different but true Canadian experience it is recommended that you bring your own equipment if possible but for overseas travelers some outfitters are available in the area. Contact: