Access/Launch: The Saugeen River route offers the paddler the most variety for choosing the length of trip desired. The paddle can be shortened or lengthened by taking advantage of the numerous access points near the riverside towns and highways. Signs posted along the highway mark these access points with a convenient number system, which can be referenced on the Saugeen River system map. Below is a short reference to distances available and estimated times for paddling:
Saugeen River Access #1 and 2:Are recommended for only experienced paddlers as high water, obstacles and heavy rapids will be encountered along this section of the river.
Saugeen River Access #3 to 5: The put in for the total 102-kilometer river trip begins here at the Hanover Town Park in Hanover. This section includes three dams once used for both milling and hydroelectric purposes.
Portages for these three dams are as follows: Maple Hill Dam: River left (south bank) located 50 metres down from the bridge. Hydro Dam: the portage is 30 metres above the dam on river left (west bank). Walkerton Dam: The portage is on the far left west bank river left.
The distances and estimated paddling times are as follows: Saugeen River Access #3 to #4: (Hanover Town Park to Maple Hill Dam) 5 kilometers or approximately a 1-hour paddle.
Saugeen River Access #4 to #5 (Maple Hill Dam to Lobies Park, Walkerton) 14.5 kilometers or approximately 3 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #5 to #9: This is the most challenging section of the Saugeen River. Rapids, rocks and flood debris are present in this section and caution must be exercised at all times.
The distances and estimated paddling times are as follows: Saugeen River Access #5 to #6: (Lobie’s Park to Access #6 Concession 8) 14.5 kilometers or approximately a 3 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #6 to #7 (Access #6 Concession 8 to Access #7 Concession 10) 6.5 kilometers or approximately 2 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #7 to #8 (Access #7 Concession 10 to Access #8 west of Vesta) 8.5 kilometers or approximately 3 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #8 to #9 (Access #8 west of Vesta to Access #9A and #9B in the town of Paisley) 10.5 kilometers or approximately 3 hours paddle. Saugeen River Access #9 to #16: This section boasts gentle rapids and tall steep clay bluffs along the shore of the river. In July and August some sections may be shallow and require disembarking your boat to seek deeper waters. The braided river and treed islands found along this stretch are the remnants of a former delta. Only one dam “Denny’s Dam” is found along this stretch of the river its portage is well marked and on river left (South Bank) where the stairs and dock is located.
The distances and estimated paddling times are as follows: Saugeen River Access #9 to #10: (Access #9 Paisley to Access #10 first bridge after the town of Paisley River Left) 2.5 kilometers or approximately a 1 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #10 to #11: (Access #10 first bridge after the town of Access #11 Paisley River Left to Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area) 6 kilometers or approximately a 1 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #11 to #12: (Access #11 Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area to Access #12 Bridge off of Highway 40 heading west of highway #3) 3 kilometers or approximately a 1 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #12 to #13: (Access #12 Bridge off of Highway 40 heading west of highway #3 to Access #13 Highway 17 heading west from Burgoyne before the bridge river right) 8.5 kilometers or approximately a 2 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #13 to #14: (Access #13 Highway 17 heading west from Burgoyne before the bridge river right to Access #14 Highway 3 south of Burgoyne towards Southampton off Conc. 8 west Arran road river right, right before the bridge) 7.5 kilometers or approximately a 2 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #14 to #15: (Access #14 Highway 3 south of Burgoyne towards Southampton off Conc. 8 west Arran road river right, right before the bridge to Access #15 Denny’s Dam Conservation area river right, portage is on river left access from Southampton following cemetery road onto Carlisle Street to end of road) 7.5 kilometers or approximately a 2 hours paddle.
Saugeen River Access #15 to #16: (Access #15 Denny’s Dam Conservation Area river right, portage is on river left access from Southampton following Cemetery Road onto Carlisle Street to end of road to Access # 16 Before Southampton’s main bridge on river right Chesley Street Park) 3 kilometers or approximately a 2 hours paddle.
Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Length: 102 kilometers, half, full or multi day tours are available
Description/Trip Background: The Saugeen River gets its name from the Ojibway word that means outlet or river mouth. It is a river rich in history and beauty and has long held great significance to the First Nation peoples and later to the settlers who came to the Grey and Bruce area. It has provided the first inhabitants with the necessary staples for survival and for coming generations a highway, which enabled easy settlement of the land. The river’s geological past also is as interesting as its anthropological history. Its highland tributaries above Walkerton drain through an old glacial spillway associated with the Horseshoe Moraine System. It then changes to a northern direction through a moraine in a 1 km wide, 50 m deep valley heading north in a meandering flow. The original spillway path of the Saugeen River was carved from a postglacial river that emptied into a former lagoon, which was once enclosed by beaches of the massive postglacial Lake Algonquin. It is theorized that when the river breached this barrier into present day Lake Huron, that the beaches of Port Elgin, Southampton and Sauble Beach were created. The flora and fauna of the Saugeen River is also a highlight of travelling this river system. While the fishing here is well known to anglers, birds and other water fowl reside on the shores and forests adjacent to the river providing for ample wildlife observation. The river itself offers a relaxing pace with intervals of class I rapids which can be easily run and bring an interesting break to the flat-water paddle. The shores offer many rest spots for a break and a chance to take in the natural beauty that this river has to offer.
Maps/Charts: Topographical Maps 41A-6, 41A-3
Fees: There are many campsites along the Saugeen River available to name a few Mcbeaths Conservation Area offers river access only campsites and is located just before the town of Paisley. The Saugeen Bluffs Conservation Area located on river right between Paisley and Port Elgin offers overnight camping, as well, numerous campgrounds also can be found in riverside towns over the entire stretch of the Saugeen. Some islands and adjacent lands are also available consult crown land tenure maps and obey posted private property signs. Shuttling is available please contact us to discuss availability, costs and times.
Other: Four dams are located along the route that requires portaging. Rapids varying from class 1 and 2 can be expected (through Saugeen River Access points 3 to 16) be sure to scout a clear route before attempting to run any fast moving water.
Guided Trip Option: The river provides varying lengths to choose from depending on the extent of tour that you decide to take. Half, full or multi day trips from varied Saugeen River Access locations are available. Please contact us for details or follow the book now link to book your adventure!
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