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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Paddling the Grand River: Cambridge through Paris to Brantford

My buddy and I took a trip out to the Grand River today.  It was wonderful!

Paris - portage around the dam
We chose to do two of the sections from the book, Cambridge to Paris, and Paris to Brantford.  This ended up being about 40km end to end.  GPS is here.

Useful Resource #1: the book "Paddling the Grand River" from the Grand River Conservation Authority.  Excellent, had the portages and such all mapped out, as well as descriptions of the various portions of the river.

Useful Resource #2:  this web site, lists the various launch points along the river.  We had some trouble finding a suitable place at Gilkison Flats in Brantford, but the Ballantyne Drive access point was perfect, as was the one in Paris at the rail trail parking lot.

Railway Bridge Remnants between Cambridge & Paris
Logistical Advice: if you have your own boat, probably best to do what we did... park a car at the finish, then drive another car up to the start.  There are tour companies that drive people's cars up, but if you're a pretty good paddler then you'll probably want to do a longer trip than what they offer.  It took us 4h30 to go Paris to Brantford, we were full steam by any stretch.

About Those Tour Companies... we saw a lot of people out there, in rafts, tubes, canoes, kayaks, many from the tour companies.  Let's just say the paddles and equipment are very "recreational".  If you're out to goof around and splash and barely paddle, go for it, but anyone who is even moderately familiar with paddling will probably not be hugely happy with what they get.  I really didn't get the rafting/tubing - the rapids were very mild, certainly nothing that would give anyone a particularly big thrill.  More of a sightseeing floating down the river kind of thing.

Rapids and Rocks - There are some rapids all the way through - some are a bit freaky, but really nothing dangerous.  We banged the bottom of the canoe a lot, you really need to read the water and when you see disturbed water be careful, rocks are almost always right before it.  It would probably be better in the spring, or generally when water levels are higher.

Dam in Brantford
Dams - these are dangerous, so make sure you know where they are!  There were signs but I was expecting buoys and a marked off area - none of that was there, so it's possible to not notice and get one's self in serious trouble.  Be very alert!

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