French River Canoe Trip - French River Provincial Park - Loon Island Outdoors

French River Delta

French River Provincial Park

June 13 - 16, 2009

French River Provincial Park - Loon Island Outdoors

Canoe Trip Reports

French River Delta

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French River - Ontario Map

"There's something about this country, it's a part of me and you" - from "Woodsmoke and Oranges" by Ian Tamblyn


While Ian Tamblyn was singing about Lake Superior, there is something about this part of the French River that always seems to strike a cord in me. It might just be that the 2 times I've been in the French River delta area the trips have been so lazy and relaxed that I come home feeling I haven't actually finished the trip. Then again, it could be the good times spent exploring with my buddies that calls us to come back for more. Or it might be the brilliant clear blue skys that I remember long after my arms have forgotten the effort of paddling into the winds blowing off of Georgian Bay. Or it might even be the sense of history I get from following in the footsteps of the Voyageurs.


The French River Provincial Park runs along the length of the French River from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. This trip starts from Hartely Bay and takes us out towardsFrench River Provincial Park Georgian Bay through the glacially carved rocky channels and inlets. Hartely Bay itself runs off of Wanapitei Bay north of the main channel of the French River. The access at Hartely Bay is through the privately owned Hartley Bay Marina, which also serves as a permit office to purchase your interior camping permit. You have to pay to park at the Hartley Bay Marina, but given how convenient it is as an access point, I've been OK with paying for the parking.


Both of the trips I've made in the delta area, have been 4 day weekends. The first trip was a few years ago and we had some incredibly nice weather for the first weekend in October. This year, our trip was being squeezed in while the kids were still in school, which made for a few more mosquitos but again some beautiful weather. Given that we only had the 4 days, we got most of the driving out of the way by heading north right after work and staying at Grundy Lake Provincial Park overnight. The idea was to let us get on the water at a decent time on the first day of the trip, but I'm not sure it worked that well. Grundy Lake is only Georgian Bay, Ontarioabout a half hour from Hartely Bay, but we weren't actually loaded up and paddling until noon.


Like many of my trips, this trip was indeed planned to be a base camp trip where we paddle in and set up camp in one spot for the 3 nights. We then do a couple of day trips to explore and fish while leaving time to relax around the campfire and maybe catch up on a bit of sleep. Since Scott and Mike both like to use their sea kayaks, this area of the French River gives us room to explore without forcing us to do any portaging. This time around, we might actually have set a new record for the shortest distance paddled on a day trip, but if we cut back on the paddling it was only to spend more time catching up around the campfire.



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