Down by the (Saugeen) River

For my birthday this year, my friends didn’t just plan me a surprise birthday party; they surprised me with a 23-kilometer paddle down the Saugeen River! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my youth 😉 . The Saugeen River trek was one that I had talked about doing for some time but had never managed to organize myself. I’m lucky to have such great friends who executed a flawless paddle adventure.

river sup 1
Saugeen River. Photo by: Shannon at PaddleWagon

Before starting off from a river entry point near the picturesque town of Paisely, my friends insisted that we all dress up in 80s-themed active wear to celebrate the occasion. Picture five ladies dressed in neon spandex and tye-dye on stand up paddleboards. It was quite the sight to behold!

I had paddled other rivers in the past, but the Saugeen River was a totally different beast to tackle. Not only was it longer than any river paddle any of us had taken on before, but it also included some areas of fast water and rapids.

river sup 2
Saugeen River. Photo by: Shannon at PaddleWagon

While no one in the group had taken on rapids via SUP before, everyone managed to maneuver the rocks surprisingly well. There was only one unfortunate casualty…me, the birthday girl! At one particularly rocky place in the river, the tip of my board caught a rock just below the surface and the sudden stop threw me off of my board and into the rushing water. I think I did a couple of somersaults before I managed to regain my orientation and pop my head out of the water.

Thankfully my friends were able to catch my life jacket, board and paddle that had all floated downstream. The only item I was unable to retrieve was my tank top which left me in only a bikini top for the rest of the day. It could have been worse I suppose!

All in all, it was one of my most notable padding experiences ever. Beautiful scenery, birds and rapids made it one for the books.

If you’re looking for a great river to paddle, I would highly recommend the Saugeen River. There are maps available online as well as at each of the access points along the river which show the length of time it takes to get from point to point. This makes it easy to plan out a custom route. Here’s a link to a handy brochure that shows the routes for not only the Saugeen River but other rivers and lakes in the Grey-Bruce area.

I’m looking forward to planning another trip down the Saugeen in the spring. At that time, the water levels will be higher due to spring run-off and hopefully a little less rocky.

Have you paddled, canoed or kayaked any great rivers? I’d love to hear about them as I start planning my spring and summer paddle adventures. 🙂


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