Trip Reports

“Paddle with a Pro” on the Dumoine River 2023

“Paddle with a Pro” on the Dumoine River

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On Sunday, August 27, 2023 three members of RACCC paddled the Dumoine River.  Two (Bill & Kate) were experienced guides representing our club and I was a “newbie”, never having been in the area. We were a small part of more than 60 paddlers who celebrated the opening of the Dumoine Trail.  I signed up for “Paddle with a Pro” because I’d heard a lot about the river and was curious. It was a safe way to explore. I had done a whitewater course but had only rarely used those skills.  We booked a cabin for a week at Dumoine Valley Guides in Rapides-des-Joachims (also called Swisha) nearby.  This is my story.  Others could tell you different tales of the weekend…


After an early breakfast on Sunday, I took a shuttle van up to Grande Chute.  We had registered with the local ZECs, which is required to enter the area.  The road in was a bit rough.  Wallace Schaber led the event, organized us into groups of 6 or 7 canoes and gave us t-shirts.  The trail for vehicles between Grande Chute and Lac Robinson, where we put our canoes into the river, was narrow and under water in places.  Seeing multiple trucks with loads of canoes trying to pass each other on this single lane trail was a sight!  Our drivers persevered.

At Lac Robinson we found our canoeing partners and our canoes.  I paddled with Kate who had volunteered her time.  We put gear into a barrel and were headed downstream.  We practiced various whitewater strokes and moves so we would be ready for what was ahead.  At Red Pine Rapids we could get out and scout the rapids before attempting to run them.  This was a long set of rapids and some canoes dumped going down.  We watched one canoe go over a ledge and stay upright.  There were multiple safety boats (canoes and kayaks) ready to assist any canoe that needed them.

We stopped briefly at several other rapids.  We got wet in some of the rapids but we did not dump.  Kate gave me clear instructions and I did my best to follow them.  I liked my Pro - Kate.  We ran the whole river except for Ryan Chute and one short liftover at Patent Chute.  Each time we would stop, we thought it was lunch time but it was not. We got our food out of the barrel and sat down to eat.  A few minutes later it would be announced that it was not lunch time and we needed to pack up the barrel and move down river.  About 2 pm we turned right to paddle upstream on the Fildegrande River and stop at Bertrands stopping spot.  This time was the REAL lunchtime and we were hungry.  We could see Bald Eagle Cliff in the distance.  There was a large open field with an old-style picnic table.  Many relics from the logging era 100 years ago were visible.  There were blackberries ready to eat.  Eventually about 60 people were stopped at Bertrands together.  I asked Mike, who had some history knowledge, when Bertrands last had 60 people at it?  He responded that he thought it was about 1930!  We saw signs of the foundations of old logging buildings.  One of our canoes had missed the Fildegrande River turn and did not find the stopping spot – oops. Mike gave us a brief history lesson. When the area near Grande Chute had logging in the early 1900s, supplies needed to be brought in along this Tote road using horses and carts.  They could travel about 8 km per day so stopping places were built where they could stay overnight.  The usual stopping places were Dufoes (near the Ottawa River, km 26), Bertrands (km 16), and Potvins (km 12).  Ray showed us part of the Dumoine Trail.

It was time to go back downstream.  At Ryan Chute we did a 200-metre portage. There was group cooperation. After Ryan Chute we had 5 km of flatwater to get to where the Dumoine River runs into the Ottawa River.  We met up with our “missing canoe” on this stretch.  They had missed our lunch stop but had a leisurely paddle downstream without us.  Our shuttle boat driver, Etienne, met us near the end of the Dumoine River.  We climbed onto his pontoon boat and canoes were balanced on top of his boat.  In this fashion we proceeded to Driftwood Provincial Park, where many people had parked cars and would head home.  We had paddled about 22 kilometres.  We shuffled canoes, gear and people at Driftwood.  We saw RACCC member Bill for the first time.  I got back onto the shuttle boat with a few others and we went to the Upper Rapides-des-Joachims boat launch.  The others were dropped off and then we went to Dumoine Valley Guides.  The last step was an ATV ride up a steep hill and I was delivered to my cabin door at 6 pm!  After a shower and a good supper, we were planning another canoe trip for Monday.

On Monday three RACCC members and a friend paddled between Rapides-des-Joachims and Deep River.  Two people with local knowledge shared their wisdom.  We checked out the north shore of the Ottawa River (Quebec) including “Boom Creek” and went as far as Frasers Point/Landing.  There were many beautiful sandy beaches!  We crossed the Ottawa River back to the Ontario side and paddled east around various pretty sandy points.  We stopped for lunch at one of the Point Alexander beaches called Burkes Beach.  We spotted young foxes twice and a fair number of loons.  It was a bit cool for swimming so we skipped that.  We paddled to the Deep River marina where a car shuttle took us back to Rapides-des-Joachims.  I’d highly recommend this 20 km paddle on a calm day.

On Tuesday two of us paddled about 15 km between Bissett Creek and the Stonecliffe public launch.  Our access point, under the old railway bridge, was not made for canoeists.  It would be better for mountain goats!  Nonetheless, we managed entry and explored the area that had been flooded when the dam was built in Rapides-des-Joachims in the 1950s.  We saw Bissett Bay, Maraboo Point, Grants Bay and Grants Creek as well as many pretty and tiny islands west of Stonecliffe on the south shore of the Ottawa River.  These reminded me of the Thousand Islands. We saw logs sticking up out of the river from the old logging days. Aside from a few cottages near our entry and exit points we only saw one kayaker, one motorboat and one couple camping.  There were no other signs of human activity here.  We did not see long sandy beaches.  If they had once been here, they were now far underwater due to the dam.

On Thursday we explored all of the recommended local trails. The Riverview Trail at Driftwood was about 1 km and quite pretty. It looked over the Ottawa River.  We drove as far as Deux Rivieres to find the excellent public launch there.  We walked from Dumoine Valley Guides to the Rabbit trail (#8) and the Trappers Hike South (#3) trail in Rapides-des-Joachims.  The Rabbit Trail had lots of mosses and mushrooms.  Trappers Hike South walked along a ridge where you could look north towards the McConnell campground area.  There were some huge old pine trees still growing.  We talked with several friendly locals about the area.  We drove to see the McConnell campground area.  It had a nice beach and a public day use launch with parking. We saw the Rapides-des-Joachims chutes. 

We consulted with Dumoine Valley Guides about our Friday plans.  We hoped to do a flatwater paddle part way up the Dumoine River and then hike to the Fildegrande River and see Bald Eagle Cliff.  As required, we registered and paid $5 per person to ZEC Domine.

Early on Friday we drove to the Stonecliffe public launch.  We planned to launch at 8 am but had to wait until after 9 am because of fog.  When the mist had lifted enough that we could see well, we paddled 1 km directly across the Ottawa River and then headed east 3 km along the northern shoreline of the Ottawa River.  We explored campsite #24, Camp Ayginagwasing Sibi, at the end of the Dumoine Trail and near where the Dumoine River enters the Ottawa River.  It had a dock.  We turned left (north) and followed the Dumoine River, paddling upstream for about 5 km.  We found various campsites along the way.  When we were close to Ryan Chute we found campsite #21 (Camp Mukwa Beweetig) on river right (our left going upstream). The campsites had Algonquin or French names. The water access was easy and we took our canoe out of the river.  It should be noted that we did this section in a flatwater canoe, not a whitewater canoe. 

We locked our canoe in the woods and hiked north on the Dumoine Trail. There were marked viewing points.  One allowed you to sit on a bench and watch Ryan Chute.  Each campsite had articles from old logging camps.  It was like a museum in the wilderness.  There were old horseshoes, chains, telegraph wires, water pails, iron bars and grates for the fire.  Each campsite had a large pile of wood and sometimes kindling too.  Each campsite had a thunderbox that was beautifully painted.  There were benches and “tables” built between trees. Many campsites had water-access. The trail was easy to follow and had good signage with horseshoes on them.  We did not get lost and we had not been here before.  We did have a trail map from .  Perhaps a moose was using the trail before us.  Do you know what moose footprints and moose droppings look like?  There were ridges, valleys, streams to cross and some dry old stream beds.  Some streams had bridges, some had logs or rocks to cross, some were dry enough to skip over.  Some areas were full of ferns.  A few places were muddy and the mud got between our toes, despite our solid footwear.  There were logs to jump over on the trail. Some logs had initials carved into them, like the logs of long ago that identified their owners when they were floated down the Ottawa River.  There were many kinds of mushrooms, trees (pine, spruce, birch, maple, cedar etc.), berries and wildflowers.

We found the Fildegrande side trail marked with MANY pieces of pink trail tape.  We followed this to see Bald Eagle Cliff.  This trail was not cleared as well as the main trail.  It was well marked so we did not get lost.  It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to walk the 4.5 km between campsite 21 (Camp Mukwa Beweetig) and campsite 18 (Camp Fildegrande) exploring every side trail and viewing spot as we went.  Camp Fildegrande gave us a beautiful view of Bald Eagle Cliff up close. We did not spot any eagles.  Here we ate our lunches before we hiked back the way we had come.  Without exploring any side trails, it took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to hike back the 4.5 km to campsite 21 (Camp Mukwa Beweetig).  We arrived there at 3 pm.

Our canoe was put back in the water.  We had a leisurely paddle downstream for 5 km to the campsite #24 dock (Camp Ayginagwasing Sibi) at the mouth of the Dumoine River.  It was sunny, not too hot and the wind was calm.  There were beautiful views.  We took pictures and identified birds.  We arrived at campsite 24, thirty minutes before our expected shuttle pickup by Dumoine Valley Guides.  We might have been able to do the one-kilometre crossing here but sometimes there can be extreme winds in this area.  It was a luxury to end our trip with a 4 km shuttle ride back to the Stonecliffe launch.  By 6 pm we were back in our cozy cabin enjoying supper.   

We were thankful for those who had made our week of exploration successful.  Wallace Schaber, who thought of building the hiking trail along the old logging supply route, volunteers who built the trail and amenities, Kate who guided me through the rapids, those who provided safety and historical advice, friends who shared local knowledge, Etienne and other shuttle drivers who gave excellent advice and took us safely home when needed.  We enjoyed our cozy cabin at Dumoine Valley Guides, complete with shower and kitchen.  We had the privilege of low wind and good weather most days.  This is a beautiful place that is now accessible to whitewater and flatwater canoeists as well as those who prefer to hike.  The drive from Ottawa is about 2 hours and 20 minutes each way.  For safety we carried whistles, an air horn and bear spray.  Other locals carried “cherry bombs”, similar to bear bangers.  We did not see any bears but spotted their “droppings” once.  We carried an InReach satellite communication device.  We had communication with Dumoine Valley Guides if needed. We followed all local requirements of ZEC Dumoine and ZEC Rapides-des-Joachims and followed “Leave No Trace” practices.  Of course, it would be possible to camp on the Dumoine River or on the new Tote road hiking trail but we didn’t do so this time.  I would recommend this experience to others who have the skills to enjoy the wilderness and moving water safely.

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Dumoine Rapids

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Near Bald Eagle Cliff

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Point Alexander Beach

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Bissett Creek water access point for mountain goats!

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Ryan Chute

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Dumoine Trail

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Moose Droppings

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Bald Eagle Cliff

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Dumoine Scenery

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Dumoine Scenery

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Travels near the Dumoine River InReach map Edit 2 Edit