Trip Reports

Barron River Trip Sept 30 2021

IMG 27762 Edit EditBarron River Trip

September 30 2021

Imagine a perfect fall day when the air is fresh and cool, the breeze is gentle, and the leaves are just coming into their autumnal glory. Now imagine a fantastic canoe trip through a spectacular canyon in Algonquin Park. Now put them together and imagine it’s your first ever trip with the RA Canoe Camping Club, your first paddle in Algonguin Park, and your longest-ever canoe trip. That was my experience when I adventured with trip leader Mark S, Karen H and guest Marcia H when we explored the Barron Canyon recently.

We met at the Sand Lake Gate Park after a two hour drive from Ottawa, and made our way to the Barron River parking lot near Squirrel Rapids. A day pass for Algonquin Park can be purchased in advance online (and is recommended when pandemic-related restrictions are in effect) but at least in my case, was purchased at the gate for $18.


We launched just ahead of a large group of kayaks. The river near the parking lot is full of floating logs to dodge, a reminder of the still-active logging business going on in the park. We arrived shortly at the first portage where Mark and Karen impressed us with their solo portaging skills and Marcia and I tried to keep up and not drop any of the other gear. The portage is “only” 420m, and while I enjoyed the scenery and the rushing rapids, my primary focus was on avoiding the plentiful poison ivy.

During the next leg of the paddle, Mark offered two-minute paddling lessons to me (someone who has never taken a canoe lesson) and a few other parties who paddled near us and seemed to be struggling in their rental canoes. We stopped for lunch at the last campsite before the canyon proper begins and traded terrible jokes.

The canyon is beyond superlatives. Granite cliffs stretched a hundred meters above our heads on one side, with mixed forest stretching off on the other. Each new bend in the river evoked a new gasp of amazement, and we paused in our paddling often to take more photos. After about three kilometers, we arrived at Brigham Chute. One could portage here and continue on, but this was our stopping point. Mark and Karen stayed behind while Marcia and I explored the water roiling over the rocks at the chute.

With the wind and the current at our backs, and the sun breaking through the morning’s overcast, the return trip to the parking lot seemed to fly by. By the time we were done, we had logged just over 18 km over about five and a half hours. Mark, Karen and Marcia enjoyed a post-paddle dinner at a scenic picnic table near the parking lot while I took advantage of the waning light to make the trip home with just a bit of daylight to spare. In all, this was a spectacular inauguration to both the RA Canoe Camping Club and canoeing in Algonquin Park, and I’d like to say thanks to my companions for being so generous with their experience and expertise. A canoe trip down the Barron Canyon is the stuff dreams are made of!

Danielle D


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