Paddling: Explore the Wonder of the Water in Huntsville and Lake of Bays

With hundreds of lakes and rivers to explore, water is at the heart of Muskoka’s adventurous spirit. Whether gliding along serene shorelines at sunrise or paddling peacefully down a river, it can feel like you’re miles from civilization — even when you’re mere minutes away from populated areas — just you and the water.

Watch for turtles and herons at waters’ edge, a loon diving into the depths, or maybe even a moose munching on tasty aquatic plants.

Whatever your chosen vessel — canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) — paddling the lakes and rivers of Huntsville, Lake of Bays, and Algonquin Park is an experience like no other. Explore solo, with friends or family, or hire a guide to show you the ropes and the best places to paddle.

Canoeing: a classic Canadian tradition

In Canoe Country, celebrated Canadian author and former Huntsville resident Roy MacGregor writes: “If the canoe is not on the Canadian flag, it is most certainly to be found in the Canadian imagination.”

A means of transport perfected by the Anishinaabek and Algonquin peoples of this region, the canoe has long been a favoured vessel by those who love the water. Canoeing is a quintessential Canadian experience — the canoe was even chosen as one of the seven wonders of Canada.

It’s the ideal activity for a family or group of friends: pack a lunch and head out on the water for a day of fun, or plan a multi-day trip and explore deep into the wilderness.

Paddling Canoe

Kayak your way around local bays

While canoeing and paddling are often synonymous, don’t forget about the kayak! Its design and double-bladed paddles can make it easier to paddle and manoeuvre, particularly for beginners.

We have the Inuit peoples of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland to thank for the kayak and its covered deck, which helped to protect them from cold seawater. Today, they make for an exciting way to experience the water solo or with a friend.

Paddling Kayak

SUPerb views

If you want to change up your perspective, try a stand-up paddleboard — it’s the closest we can get to walking on water. From a SUP vantage point you can easily see down into the water as well as getting a better view of the horizon.

Originally a twist on surfing, stand-up paddleboards have made their way inland to lakes and rivers for an unparalleled flat-water experience.

Stand Up Paddling

Don’t have your own gear? Don’t fear!

If you have the desire but not the gear, outfitters in Huntsville, Lake of Bays, and Algonquin Park can set you up with everything you’ll need for a great day — or days — on the water.

Algonquin Outfitters locations in Huntsville, Oxtongue Lake, and Algonquin Park offer canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals, along with friendly tips for getting the most out of your paddling experience. If you’re camping in the park, take advantage of the campground delivery service, or you can have a canoe delivered to the Hwy 60 access point for your planned route. Head to Opeongo Lake for a ride on the water taxi and discover some of the most popular canoe routes in the park. AO even offers outfitting packages that supply everything you need —  from equipment to food — for a multi-day Algonquin Park adventure.

Rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP from The Portage Store in the heart of Algonquin Park and explore stunning Canoe Lake. Their knowledgeable staff will provide you with a map of Canoe Lake and point out places of interest, along with some canoeing pointers if your skills are a bit rusty. They offer a campground delivery service too! Or head out on a multi-day backcountry excursion with all of the gear you’ll need to get away from the everyday.

At the visitors’ centre at Arrowhead Provincial Park, rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP and explore tranquil Arrowhead Lake or Mayflower Lake. Or make a day of it and paddle from Arrowhead Lake to the Little East River, make a short portage around Stubb’s Falls, and carry on up the Big East River to the spectacular bluffs at the Big Bend. Pause at the sandy beach across from the bluffs and then let the river carry you back downstream the way you came.

Take a tour: you bring a sense of adventure, the guides provide the rest!

Let someone else do the planning: several local outfitters offer guided SUP or canoe tours on single- and multi-day trips that will take you off the beaten path into stunning, untouched wilderness. It’s the experience of a lifetime.

For stand-up paddleboard (SUP) adventures, Find Your Wild has a leisurely half-day Fun Float, or go for the full-day RIver Board Adventure on Huntsville’s Big East River which begins in Arrowhead Provincial Park and includes a portage around Stubb’s Falls and swimming at a sandy beach. Or spend a full day paddling the Oxtongue River on the doorstep to Algonquin Park.

Safari & Company offers a variety of SUP excursions on Lake of Bays, from one-on-one instruction, to private group instruction, to leisurely public classes including Women’s Wednesday, Paddle Bathing (the ultimate in stress relief), and even stand-up paddleboarding with your dog!

If classic canoeing is more your style, the heart of Algonquin Park is the place to go for guided tours.

Algonquin Adventure Tours has a variety of guided tours, including daily people-powered or motorized canoe options, and three- to five-day canoe camping safaris for loon, beaver, and moose spotting.

Take a day trip or a two- to five-day backcountry trip with Algonquin Bound Outfitters, where guides will plan and prepare your meals and help you with every aspect of your Algonquin Park adventure. Learn more about the history and ecology of the park, how to identify animals and animal signs, and improve your map-reading and campfire-lighting skills.

The ORCKA-certified guides at Wilderness Adventures will take you on a three- or six-day excursion into the pristine wilderness of the Algonquin Park interior, supplying all your gear from canoes and tents to food and waterproof canoe packs. All you need to bring is your clothes and personal items.

Have you ever wanted to try whitewater canoeing? The Petawawa River in the northeast corner of Algonquin Park has one of Ontario’s classic whitewater canoe routes, and MHO Adventures will guide you through it with a four-day, 50km tour that navigates several exciting class 1 and 2 rapids. MHO guides will teach you the whitewater skills you need to safely read and run rapids.

‘Water’ you waiting for?

Your ultimate paddling adventure is calling. Explore the sparkling waters in Huntsville, Lake of Bays, or Algonquin Park and leave the rest of the world behind.

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