Put In Put In
Lorne Access Lorne Access
Take Out Take Out

Ottawa river, Rocher Fendu, Main channel ***

View Main channel in a larger map.
  • Grade: 3-4
  • Level: Any! Can be paddled anytime it is free of ice
  • Gauge: The physical gauge is below the first rapid (McCoys chute), and is the one that all other sources reference. There is an online gauge now, maintained by Shaggy Designs.
  • Length: 9 km
  • Gradient: 2.8 m/km
  • Time: Can be run top to bottom in a couple of hours, but why rush?
  • Put In: The OWL Public put in off McCoy Chute trail
  • Take Out: Black's access (1298 Grant Settlement road)
  • Shuttle: 9 km
  • Character: Pool-drop playboating heaven

Probably the best and certainly the most popular boating destination in Eastern Canada. The Ottawa has something for everyone. There are eddylines and waves small enough for beginners, big ones for the hotshots to practice their wonkyflops, and some seriously large rapids in the springtime. The section is just short enough for two runs in a day. The access is good for park 'n' play and there are usually other boaters around to hook up shuttles, cheer you on or pick up the pieces below the rapids.

The river is deceptively flat from the takeout, but follow the roaring sound (and the hordes of kayakers and rafts) towards the first rapid, McCoys Chute. McCoys can be a float down a simple wavetrain or the thundering nemesis of many a beginner boater. It all depends on water level. Inspect or portage on the right. The waves that form in this rapid (Corner wave, Horseshoe hole, Babyface) offer some great playboating. If you are new here, just follow the crowds to figure out what is best. Keep an eye upstream for boaters and rafts bearing down on you - they can't stop!

Lars Romeskie surfing Satlers hole, McCoys chute
Lars Romeskie surfing Satlers hole, McCoys chute

Once you have tired yourself out spinning and blunting at McCoys, head downstream, past the outflow of the Sullivan dam on your left. The gauge should be visible in the middle distance. Going straight on will take you down the Middle channel. To get to the Lorne (the next rapid), take a right turn either before or after the gauge. Both routes converge around some islands and in a short while you will see the top of the Lorne. This is the home of the famous Garburator wave in low water, and Buseater in high water. There are trails on both banks, so you can run it again and again. There is public access here, courtesy of OWL rafting and Whitewater Ontario.

A raft losing its last remaining occupant, Buseater, Lorne rapid
A raft losing its last remaining occupant, Buseater, Lorne rapid

Just below the Lorne, there are a few shelters on the right where rafting clients get lunch. Opposite these the river splits around some rocky islands - only visible in low water. If there is a queue of boaters in an eddy then Pushbutton is in! This is a great wave for practicing new moves without the nasal enema risk of a wipeout on the Garburator. Follow the current down to Butcher's Knife. This rapid gets its name from the sharp rocks on the right shore, but all difficulties can easily be avoided by running left.

Easy flowing water then leads down to Normans, a bouncy wavetrain ending in some surgy boils. This is quickly followed by Coliseum, which can be the most intimidating rapid on the river in higher flows. Again, trails are on both banks. There is an observation deck overlooking the rapid on the left - a great place to hang out and watch some raft carnage! At the bottom of Coliseum is a rocky ledge extending about halfway across the river. If this has water flowing over it, it is not a happy place to be!

A couple of easier rapids follow; Dogsleg and Blacks. As is the case elsewhere on the Ottawa, there are some great playspots here in the right water levels. The river widens out at this point - the right hand channel leads past Blacks take out.

In high water, there is another channel that becomes runnable; the Lost channel (purple line on the map). To access the Lost channel continue straight past the gauge, heading towards the Middle channel and turn right after about 1 km. Following the main flow in this channel to the right leads to a few pleasant drops before Anvil Falls. Anvil Falls is worth inspecting especially if you haven't seen it before. Shortly after, the main channel is rejoined above Normans.

To get to the take out; Coming from Ottawa on highway 17, about 95 km from Ottawa turn right onto Storyland road. This becomes Queens line, then take a right onto Kohlsmith road (signposts for rafting). This turns into Grants Settlement road, and Blacks take out is just past RiverRun rafting.

To get to the put in; Continue on Grants Settlement road and turn right onto McCoys Chute trail. There is a parking lot on the left, and walk down to the river.