French River Provincial Park offers the perfect experience for beginner and experienced canoeists alike - in fact, this was my first canoe trip! Not only is the French River incredibly beautiful, but it is also a Canadian Heritage River System full of incredible history. Here you can paddle the routes of Indigenous people, French explorers, and fur traders. Despite the motorboat traffic and cottages, paddling down the river is like being transported back in time.
Starting at Hartley Bay Marina, the river is wide and deep. As you reach the river delta, narrow channels project into Georgian Bay-like fingers reaching out into the cold waters of Lake Huron. The exposed Canadian Shield rock is a true Canadian oasis. It truly feels as if you are on a different planet. Words can’t describe it and photos will never do it justice.
Trip Completed: August 2020.
Report Updated: September 2022.
Starting Point: Hartley Bay Marina
Ending Point: Hartley Bay Marina
Total Distance: 52 km
Duration: 3 Days
This route is located in French River Provincial Park.
Traditional Territory: This route takes place on the traditional territory of the Anishinabewaki (Mississauga) (source).
Maps & Resources
Map: Unlostify Maps
Campsite Reservations: Reserve interior permits on Ontario Parks. Select “Backcountry Registration", and then select “French River Provincial” for the park and “Hartley Bay” for the access point. Campsites are first-come first-serve basis.
Outfitters & Shuttles
There are many outfitters nearby. Due to it being a busy time of year, we could not secure a reservation for a canoe a month in advance at any of the nearby locations. Instead, we went to the first-come-first-serve outfitter for Killbear Provincial Park - The Det...
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