Five Reasons Fall Paddling in the Kawarthas is the Best

Posted by on October 2, 2015

As Champagne is to France, Darjeeling is to the Indian Himalaya and Islay single malt is to Scotland, so is canoeing to Peterborough & the Kawarthas.

Peterborough is the birthplace of the modern canoe and the home of paddling wisdom, in the form of the Canadian Canoe Museum. The sparkling waterways here have been paddled for ages by the Anishnaabe First Nations, and adventurers like Samuel de Champlain, or modern-day voyageurs who choose the Kawarthas’  for the wealth of day paddles and all-season backcountry possibilities. There is no better time than autumn to jump in your boat and experience our stretch of the Land Between by water.

1. The bugs are gone


Our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lily Maeve and I (Briagh) on Nogies Creek last week; not a single bug-bite the whole afternoon!

Forget the experience of bloodsucking winged parasites in fewer than ten strides along a portage trail. Post-Labour Day paddling is practically bug free!  For young families like ours, bringing the kid(s) along can be a challenge, but without bloodsuckers torturing wee ones, we can all enjoy paddling.

2. The weather is lovely

Edible wilds Paddling excursion

Nogies Creek, September 20th on our Edible Wilds Paddling Excursion; sunny and a pleasant 22 degrees.

Early autumn shares the sun and blue skies of the best of summer without the killer heat that can melt your mettle. Cool evening fireside tea or spirits are just that much cozier. Dress and pack appropriately; sun hats, t-shirts and shorts are great for the midday paddle, but early morning and evenings are chilly, so layer up, bring your woolies, an extra pair of shoes & socks, and rain gear (to keep the rain away…right?)

 3. The wildlife is active

little girl holding eft in her hands

Lily and Bretton taking a closer look at a Red Eft; a juvenile Eastern Spotted Newt near Nogies Creek. This little guy can live to be 15 years old.



Winter preparation activity makes wildlife of all kinds more conspicuous. There is no better vantage point than the seat of a canoe. You might have a moose respond to a well-honed cow-call as they ready to mate, or view avians of all sorts making their annual migration south. We even saw a white swan on Nogies Creek while we were leading our Edible Wilds Paddling Excursion.

4. The colours are breathtaking

Nogies Creek Fall Colours

The colours on Nogies Creek, October 2014

Watching nature’s canvas shift from the clean greens of summer to the fiery glow of autumn is awe-inspiring. But gliding silently (or not so silently if your toddler is belting out camp songs!) on Lake Katchewanooka last week, I could see those golden hues rippling the water below, the first splashes of oranges and reds catching the light as the sun sank lower, thinking, “yes, this is the best place to watch this show”. Our Colours of Katchewanooka by Canoe tour from Young’s Point into Lakefield is ideal for novices and families.

5. (Almost) Nobody’s around!

fall kawartha highlands students paddling

Nobody’s around…except us! An incredible group of Brazilian students from Fleming College finishing up our Kawarthan Voyageur Overnight canoe Trip last October in the Kawartha Highlands.

Even though there’s so much beauty available, when the school bell rings, cottage country crowds diminish drastically, and it becomes a lot easier to book your favourite campsite in parks like the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site. If you’ve never been before, check out Bretton’s article on canoeing the Kawartha Highlands, and don’t forget to always wear high-visibility colours on the portage trails during the moose and deer seasons.


Sliding along to our portage into Cox Lake from the marshy end of Loucks Lake in the Kawartha Highlands last October; we saw only one other person during the entire trip!

On the way home the promise of ice cream at Stuff’d in Lakefield does a lot to boost Lily’s morale (even in the cooler weather) when interest in lily pads, jumping fish and turtle-scouting wanes. Call ahead (705 651-1111) to check their autumn schedule. The Canoe & Paddle Pub next door offers wonderful atmosphere (live music Thursday evenings and most Sunday afternoons) hearty meals, and a fine selection of brews, all well-earned after a long (or short) paddle.

Rent canoes, kayaks or SUPs from our friends at Adventure Outfitters (705) 652-7986. If you’re in need of a guide who will take care of the route, the gear, the food and the fun, call us of course at The Land Canadian Adventures!