The Dumoine River is an excellent whitewater river in the Upper Ottawa Valley. The river has tons of runnable Class II and Class III rapids, so should only be paddled by intermediate canoeists; at least a couple of paddlers should be versed in whitewater rescue techniques.
The Dumoine River only has one long portage (around Grand Chute), however there are a few ledges to portage around or line. Overall, this is a very fun river and between the three sisters (the Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge rivers), the Dumoine is my favourite.
Trip Completed: October 2020
Starting Point: Lac Benoit (km 64)
Ending Point: Dam on the Ottawa River
Total Distance: 72 km
Duration: 5 days / 4 nights
Traditional Territory: The Dumoine River is located on the traditional territory of Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin).
Maps & Resources
Guidebook: Rivers of the Upper Ottawa Valley by Hap Wilson
Map: 31 K/13 Lac Dumoine, 31 K/12 Lac Russel, 31 K/5 Lac du Pinceau, 31 K/4 Rolphton
Note: There is a free copy of the topographical maps from Carte Plein Air that you can download here.
Campsite Reservations: Campsites are first-come-first-serve. I believe you need to check in with the ZEC office to pay a fee prior to starting your trip, however this was handled by our outfitter.
Outfitters & Shuttles
We had our shuttle done by Noel Leclerc, who is based out of Centrale des Joachims, a small village on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. His contact information is here.
He drove us and our canoes to our put-in upriver of Lac Benoit. We were able to leave our vehicles on his property for the duration of the trip. Our take-out on the Ottawa River was a short walk from his property, so we could walk to pick up the vehicles and drive back to our canoes.
This was our route. I’ve included some detail about the major rapids, however you should also get a copy of Rivers of the Upper Ottawa Valley which illustrates all the rapids and has suggestions for lines. We found it incredibly helpful.
There’s also a video at the end that shows a lot of the rapids.
Day 1: Access Road (km 64) to Canoe Eater (km 59)
For the longest length of trip, the put-in is either Lac Dumoine or Lac Dix Miles. We were originally going to put in around here (specifically around km 84), but one of the roads become inaccessible so we started 20 km downriver at the end of a logging road (km 64).
Our day started with meeting Noel. We got our gear and canoes loaded onto two pickup trucks (a van and trailer wouldn’t be able to handle the logging road). It was a 2.5-hour drive to the put-in. It was a seriously bumpy drive.
We put in at kilometre 64, at the end of a logging road. This put us directly down river of Triple Sault, a series of 3 chutes / ledges and the portage Hap Wilson admiringly refers to as “Grunt Portage”.
From there, we had almost non-stop rapids-swifts-rapids to the first campsite.
- Du Pont Rapids (CII) – This rapid goes underneath the bridge and was a bumpy ride in high water.
- Rapides Crampe en Masse (CI / CII)
- Canoe Eater (CIII) – This is a tricky one, only paddle if you are experienced. Note that there is a ledge to portage / line directly after.
Campsite: For our first night we camped at the group site right after Canoe Eater. It was large enough to accommodate our large group and had ample flat tent spots and a decent fire pit. It was a nice site but paled in comparison to our upcoming campsites.
Day 2: Canoe Eater (km 59) to Ile Burnt (km 49)
Day 2 was a super fun day. We were on the water a little before 10 am. There were so many fun sets of rapids to paddle! As you can see, this is not a river for novice whitewater paddlers. We had ~7 rapids with a rating of Class II or higher.
We did most of the rapids without scouting, but this was partially due to water levels and being with a very experienced group.
- Sleeper Rapids (CII)
- Double Choice Rapids (CII / CIII)
- Snake Rapids (CII / CIII)
- Thread the Needle (CIII) – Some large rocks to watch out for as these could easily wrap a boat.
- Log Jam Rapids (CII / CIII)
- Gooseneck Rapids (CII)
- Little Steel Rapids (CI – CII)
- Little Steel Falls – This is a CIV and should definitely be portaged.
- Cliff Hanger Rapids (CII)
Since we’d shortened the total route length and had the same number of trips, we were able to have a few shorter days on the water. Since the weather was so nice, when we came across a campsite on a pretty island, we called it a day even though it was only 3 pm.
Campsite: We camped at a site on “Ile Burnt”. This was the best campsite we stayed at. Actually, it’s probably in the top ten best campsites I’ve stayed at. I may be a tad biased because we had an amazingly clear night, so I could try photographing stars, and we had a gorgeous sunrise too.
Note: The campsite is really small and there is no thunderbox. We solo paddled to the campsite on the mainland for firewood and to use the thunderbox.
Day 3: Ile Burnt (km 49) to Grand Chute (km 22)
Our third day had a few decently sized rapids, but the main event was Grand Chute. If there is ever a time to hug the shoreline and cautiously approach a portage, it is here!
We were on the water early again, around 9:30 am.
- Big Steel (CII / CIII) – This rapid is very long and in high water, there were a ton of big waves. We didn’t tip but did manage to swamp our canoe. A spray skirt would have been helpful.
- Horse Race (CII)
- Z Rapids (CII)
- Tucker Rapids (CII / CIII)
Big Portage: Grand Chute
Our most daunting task of the day was a 1300 m portage around Grand Chute. For the first trip, we followed the trail with our gear to the second campsite. The trail was very rugged and portaging with a canoe would have been difficult.
So for the second trip with the canoes, we didn’t follow the trail. Instead, we went up the road a bit and then turned onto an ATV trail. This made the portage a little longer than 1300 m, but the ATV trail was wide, very flat and had no obstacles. I recommend taking this route.
Campsite: We stayed at a campsite off the portage along Grand Chute. This was another excellent campsite. There are two campsites here; we stayed at the one slightly downriver because it was a lot bigger.
By the time all the gear was portaged, it was getting close to 5 pm. At this time of year (October) it gets dark early so factor that into your route planning. We ended up doing dishes in the dark.
Day 4: Grand Chute (km 22) to Campsite at km 8
We started the day by portaging the rest of our gear to the end of Grand Chute. We were on the water a little later than usual, I think around 10:30.
We had our last two rapids on this day. Walrus Rapids was a short and easy one. Red Pine Rapids, on the other hand, was a kilometre of alternating Class II and Class III rapids. Pay attention to the map and the water in front of you; there is a ledge you’ll need to portage / line.
- Walrus Rapids (CI / CII)
- Red Pine Rapids (CIII)
Campsite: We stayed at a group campsite at km 8. This was a decent campsite. It was a good size for our group and had plenty of good tent spots. Although it didn’t have the same views as Ile Burnt and Grand Chute, we did get the best sunset of the entire trip here.
Day 5: Campsite at Km 8 to Take Out
Between our campsite and the takeout, we had 8 km of paddling on the Dumoine and 12 km of paddling on the Ottawa River. There were no rapids in this section, however there was one quick portage around a beautiful chute (the most beautiful one of the trip, in my opinion).
Portage: Quick portage around Chute Ryan. There’s a large step to get from the water to the trail, but after that, it’s the portage trail is very flat.
Take Out: According to the trip reports I read, the most common place to take out is Driftwood Provincial Park, which is on the south side of the Ottawa River, a little east of the mouth of the Dumoine River.
We, on the other hand, took out at the portage near Centrale des Joachims. You’ll see on the map that the Ottawa River splits into two sections and both sections result in a dam. We took out on the left shore of the river right section, and there’s a huge yellow portage sign to indicate it.
Overall our trip on the Dumoine River was excellent. We had great weather, excellent food, tons of fun rapids to paddle and relatively few missteps.
What Went Well
We only had a couple of tips: Although we did very little scouting, we only have three tips on the entire trip. Two tips were pretty straightforward, although one did require us to cross a rapid to unpin a boat. Thankfully we were all experienced with whitewater rescue and this went smoothly.
We had whitewater rescue experience: Multiple people in the group had rescue experience, which made dealing with the three tips very easy. Ensure you and your group have the abilities to do this river!
Drysuit was critical: If you’re paddling in spring or autumn, definitely wear a dry suit. The water was so cold – I did actually go swimming one evening – but if I’d not had the drysuit when we helped to unpin the canoe, I definitely would have felt hypothermic.
What Could Have Gone Better
A spray skirt would have been nice: In our group of four canoes, one had a spray skirt. When we paddled the Dumoine River we had surprisingly high water levels, so some of the waves were big. Although my boat never tipped, we had a lot of close calls. If I did the trip again, I would probably do it with a spray skirt.
Mikaela Ferguson grew up running on the rocks of the Canadian Shield and swimming in the waters of Georgian Bay. She worked as a wilderness guide, leading canoeing and hiking trips in Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut. She now works in business by day and crafts outdoor education resources by night.
Website: Voyageur Tripper
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