French River: Lake Nipissing to Hartley Bay Marina (8 days / 172 km)

In the deep autumn of 2020, we took on the challenge of canoeing the entire length of the beautiful and historic French River in northern Ontario, Canada. Over 170 kms of water was ahead of us, ever changing from wide, to narrow; from ambient, to violent. The season brought us many challenges with the fluctuating weather and temperatures, but also brought a beautiful display of fall colours for us to soak in as we paddled the historical routes of Champlain, the Hurons, and the Voyageurs to name just a few. 

Trip Completed: October 2020

Trip Summary

Starting PointLichty’s Marina - West Bay, Lake NipissingEnding PointHartley Bay Marina - French River DeltaDuration8 DaysDifficultyIntermediate Total Distance166 kmTotal Portaging Distance860mNumber of Portages6Number of Rapids8

Location: French River begins at Lake Nipissing (directly southwest of North Bay) and flows to the north shore of Georgian Bay.

Traditional Territory: The French River is located on the traditional territory of the Mississauga and Anishinabewaki (source).

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: French River: Canoeing the River of the Stick Wavers by Toni Harting

Map: Unlostify - West French River, Garmin Earthmate App

Route Planner: Click here to view and modify this route in the interactive Route Planner

Permits & Reservations

Campsite Reservations / Permits: In this park you don't book specific campsites, however, you do select a "Zone" to camp in. Each of the campsite numbers corresponds to a zone (i.e. campsite 106 is in Zone 1, campsite 723 is in Zone 7).

This can be booked on the Ontario Parks website. On the booking portal, click the last tab labeled “Backcountry Registration". Then you can book the zone you will be camping in each night.

There is an option to pick up paper permits, however it's more common to just keep an e-copy on your phone, if you were to come across a park ranger.

Note: Our Lake Nipissing camp was loca...

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