Paddling routes

Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site

Travel the Trent-Severn Waterway in a canoe or kayak and unlock a whole new experience on the water. There are three different regions to visit, endless lakes and rivers to paddle, and charming waterfront communities and historic stops that await you around every corner. Services and facilities along the waterway make it easy to plan a paddling trip of any length, and ample overnight opportunities - such as camping at the locks - make it possible to extend your visit.

First Nations

The Trent-Severn Waterway follows routes that originate from First Nations that have used them long before the construction of the modern navigational waterway began.

Many place names along the Trent-Severn Waterway are Anishinaabe in origin – including “Otonabee” (also known as Odenabe), which means “river that beats like a heart.” The Anishinaabewmowin name is very apt – in spring and early summer the river can be a torrent of water; in late summer and early fall it is more predictableFootnote 1.

First Nations continue to live in communities along these routes, and travel them as do visitors. When paddling these routes, please be mindful of this place and its people, as well as your own connection to these lands and waters. Enjoy your visit, travel with care, and leave no trace.

Routes by region

North region

Location: Bobcaygeon → Port Severn

The northern section of the Trent-Severn Waterway encompasses the area between the terminus lockstation at Georgian Bay and the midway point of the waterway. Paddle along this beautiful stretch on the southern tip of the Canadian Shield characterized by rugged rock formations, plus lakes and rivers that were carved into the Shield in prehistoric times. You will encounter a number of signature Parks Canada experiences and iconic historic sites, including the Big Chute Marine Railway, the Kirkfield Lift Lock, and the Mnjikaning Fish Weirs.

Suggested routes:
1-day routes

Location: Mitchell Lake to Talbot

On this beautiful and relaxing paddling trip, experience the thrill of locking through the Kirkfield Lift Lock.

2-day routes

Location: Balsam Lake to Lake Simcoe

Start at Balsam Lake, the summit of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and paddle all the way to Lake Simcoe where you can enjoy a celebratory swim.

Location: Rosedale Figure 8

Spend one day making your way around Cameron Lake (and don't forget to stop for ice cream in the lovely town of Fenelon Falls). Leave the other day to explore Balsam Lake.

Location: Sparrow Lake to Big Chute

On this beautiful and scenic adventure on the Severn River you will have the opportunity to stay overnight at Lock 43, Swift Rapids: the deepest single chambered lock on the system only accessible by boat.

Kawarthas region

Location: Buckhorn → Peterborough

The Kawarthas are a world-recognized destination for a reason. The sprawling landscape of endless lakes and rivers, woodlands and prairies, as well as both granite and limestone rock barrens, connects a community of charming waterfront towns and villages welcoming visiting paddlers at every turn. Experience the thrill of locking through the Peterborough Lift Lock, and plan to get out for a picnic at some of the most beautiful lockstations along on the system.

Suggested routes:
1-day routes

Location: Lakefield to Peterborough

Paddle down the Otonabee river and experience locking through 7 locks including the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world.

Location: Trent University to Squirrel Creek Conservation Area

Lower section of the Otonabee River that is more natural and scenic.

Location: Buckhorn to McCrackens Landing

Paddle the scenic Upper Buckhorn, Lovesick and Stoney lakes on this beautiful one-day paddling trip.

2-day routes

Location: Lakefield to Squirrel Creek

This route covers the largest section of the Otonabee River. Stay overnight in Peterborough and take advantage of everything the city has to offer.

Location: McCrakens Landing to Peterborough

Paddle through three different environments and plan an overnight’s stay in a Parks Canada oTENTik.

3-day routes

Location: Buckhorn to Peterborough

Paddle across five beautiful lakes, then down the Otonabee River and the excavated Trent canal.

South region

Location: Campbellford → Glen Miller

Considered a quieter section of the Trent-Severn Waterway, the Trent River offers an ideal paddling environment surrounded by some of the most picture-worthy rural landscapes in Ontario known as the Trent Hills. There are endless opportunities to fish; typical catch includes walleye (pickerel), carp, muskie, panfish, pike, and small and largemouth bass. And do not forget to visit at least one of the three restored original lockmaster houses and the only two flight locks on the system (Lock 11-12 Ranney Falls and Lock 16-17 Healey Falls).

Suggested routes:
1-day routes

Location: Campbellford to Percy Reach

Filled with many things to do along the way, this route can be made into a day full of many little adventures.

Location: Glen Ross to Glen Miller Conservation Area

Paddle a good portion of the Trent River on this day trip.

2-day routes

Location: Campbellford to Glen Ross

Start with your first lockage at the Ranney Falls flight lock then take this trip to the next level by booking a night’s stay in the one-of-a-kind Parks Canada Ôasis.

3-day routes

Location: Campbellford to Glen Miller Conservation Area

Start your adventure by locking through the first flight locks on the system, followed by nine other conventional locks, all operated manually.

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