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Canadian Thousand Islands - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Destination Report
Nearest City: Gananoque, ON, Canada
Difficulty: Moderate
Submitted by: MikeT View Profile

Description:

Every year in early May and then again in late October I do a week of paddling (mostly alone) in the Canadian Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands Water Trail website has a wealth of useful information: including general information about the area, tourist information, paddling information, detailed paddling route guides and schematic paddling maps, and hiking information. Start here; it’s a great internet portal to paddling in the Canadian Thousand Islands:
www.paddle1000.com/paddling.htm

The Canadian Thousand Islands is a big piece of water, and it is often very windy. And there is the added bonus of wind funneling effects caused by the islands. Many places, often where least expected are shallow. All these factors can combine to provide the boater with an "interesting" ride on very confused water.

The weather can be changeable; and that’s another good reason to carry a VHF radio. A not unusual scenario is to do an exposed two mile crossing under benign conditions; take a short rest on an island; and then paddle on with water coming over the boat up to your armpits. Kayaks are the boat of choice.

A place to paddle if the weather gets bad is the Bateau Channel. Spencer’s Cottages are located right on the Bateau Channel, about a two mile paddle from the Admiralty Islands, which makes for great paddling without the hassle of having to load, unload and transport boats. A place to paddle if the weather gets really bad is Jones Creek. But it’s a steep carry down a hillside from the Thousand Island Parkway to the put in.

If you paddle in the Canadian Thousand Islands, other than early (i.e. May) or late (i.e. October), the power boat traffic, especially around Kingston, Gananoque and Brockville, gets pretty intense - stay out of the marked channels! Carry an air horn, whistle, flares and a VHF radio; don't become road kill.

Depending on the time of year, and especially in the spring, paddling in the Canadian Thousand Islands is cold water paddling - water temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So dress accordingly; I prefer a dry suit. For a weather and water temperature reality check, try this link: www.wunderground.com/MAR/SL/022.html

Landings and launches are mostly rocky. Come psychologically prepared to put some "character" marks on that nice glass boat. Last year (2007) the water levels were especially low, and I was very glad that I had a poly boat in my fleet. This spring (2008) the water levels were high –go figure!

I have both camped on Canada Parks Islands and on Sugar Island. Now I prefer, due to the often changeable wind and weather, my age, and the recent appearance of deer ticks and Lyme disease, to paddle out of cottages located on the St. Lawrence River.

Deer ticks and the Lyme disease they bring are definitely present in the Canadian Thousand Islands; and are moving up the St. Lawrence River. I spoke in May 2008 while on McDonald Island with the person (I believe he lives in Alberta) who has designed and has been building the world's best and most "cool" looking - you could be proud to hold a wedding reception at the outhouse on Mulcaster Island - solar powered outhouses for Canada Parks. A couple of years ago, while he was working on this ongoing outhouse construction program, one of this gentleman's young children was the first person to be diagnosed with Lyme disease in the Canadian Thousand Islands.

GPS Waypoints:

Route numbers correspond to the same numbers used to designate routes on Thousand Islands Water Trail web site:
http://www.paddle1000.com/paddling.htm

Caveat is that though these waypoints have been field checked and Google Earth Version 5.0 checked, the GPS unit should never be a substitute for having a map and a compass and the skills to use them.

I confess to being a gear head and lover of technology, but I also paddle mostly alone at times of the year when you cannot pull up to an island dock and ask bikini clad sunbathers your exact location. I carry two compasses, one on the deck and one attached to my PFD. I also carry a GPS unit; and in addition, a second, identical, completely programmed back-up GPS unit, plus extra batteries. If you use any technology, it can and sometimes will fail. I occasionally consult my GPS unit because it can get real confusing for us old folks when paddling around among endless islands.

CANADIAN THOUSAND ISLANDS WATER TRAIL: ROUTES 1 & 2

  1. City of Kingston: Cataraqui Canoe Club (Public Launch Site)
    N 44° 14.577’ W 76° 28.795’
  2. Cedar Island: N Corner
    N 44° 13.745’ W 76° 27.055’
  3. Milton Island: E Corner
    N 44° 14.700’ W 76° 23.800’
  4. The Spectacles: N Corner
    N 44° 14.650’ W 76° 23.100’
  5. Treasure Island: NE Corner
    N 44° 15.600’ W 76° 22.100’
  6. Treasure Island: Marina (Private Launch Site)
    N 44° 15.815’ W 76° 22.642’
  7. Howe Island Ferry Dock: Mainland
    N 44° 16.657 W 76° 19.623’
  8. Chipmans Bay
    N 44° 17.300’ W 76° 18.900’
  9. Grass Creek Park (Public Launch Site: Sandy Beach)
    N44° 17.472’ W 76° 18.614’
  10. Grass Creek: Mouth
    N 44° 17.630’ W 76° 18.100’
  11. Trident Yacht Club: Pee Stop After
    N 44° 18.108’ W 76° 16.980’
  12. Trident Yacht Club (Private Launch Site)
    N 44° 18.270’ W 76° 15.468’
  13. Johnson Bay: Mouth (Landing Spot NE Shore)
    N44° 17.660’ W76° 15.370’
  14. Grog Island: N Corner
    N 44° 18.280’ W 76° 14.930’
  15. Thompsons Point
    N 44° 18.185’ W 76° 14.447’
  16. Firmans Point
    N 44° 18.357’ W 76° 14.203’
  17. Howe Island: Direct Crossing from Spencer’s Cottages
    N 44° 18.090’ W 76° 13.824’
  18. Spencer’s Cottages (Private Launch Site)
    N 44° 19.274’ W 76° 13.382’
  19. Edwards Point
    N 44° 18.727’ W 76° 12.479’
  20. Bishops Point Beach (Public Launch Site: No Parking)
    N 44° 18.333’ W 76° 11.654’
  21. Cable Ferry From Bishops Point To Howe Island: DANGER
    N 44° 18.250’ W 76° 11.657’
CANADIAN THOUSAND ISLANDS WATER TRAIL: ROUTES 3, 4 & 5
  1. 1.Spencer’s Cottages (Private Launch Site)
    N 44° 19.274’ W 76° 13.382’
  2. Edwards Point
    N 44° 18.727’ W 76° 12.479’
  3. Bishops Point Beach (Public Launch Site: No Parking)
    N 44° 18.333’ W 76° 11.654’
  4. Cable Ferry From Bishops Point To Howe Island: DANGER
    N 44° 18.250’ W 76° 11.657’
  5. Beau Revauge Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.134’ W 76° 11.325’
  6. Aubrey Island: N Corner
    N 44° 17.850’ W 76° 11.510’
  7. Mermaid Island: NW Corner
    N 44° 17.738’ W 76° 11.268’
  8. Bostwick Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 17.670’ W 76° 11.050’
  9. Leek (AKA Thwartway) Island: SW Corner
    N 44° 17.270 W 76° 09.366’
  10. Channel Between Juniper Island And Leek (AKA Thwartway) Island
    N 44° 17.812 W 76° 09.194
  11. Huckleberry Island: E Corner
    N 44° 18.007’ W 76° 08.961’
  12. Hay Island: NW Corner
    N 44° 18.898’ W 76° 08.795’
  13. Trement Park Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.913’ W 76° 09.342’
  14. Gananoque: Rotary Beach (Public Launch Site: Clarence Avenue)
    N 44° 19.416’ W 76° 10.002’
  15. McDonald Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.712’ W 76° 10.399’
  16. Campbell Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.230’ W 76° 10.450’
  17. Grindstone Island (United States): SW Side
    N 44° 17.322’ W 76° 08.440’
  18. Punt Island Group: S End
    N 44° 17.854’ W 76° 07.850’
  19. Camelot Island: W Side (Good Landing)
    N 44° 18.103’ W 76° 06.808’
  20. Camelot Island: NE Corner (Rocky Landing)
    N 44° 18.160’ W 76° 06.630’
  21. Endmyon Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.005’ W 76° 06.148’
  22. Bloodletter Island: SW Corner
    N 44° 18.378’ W 76° 06.459’
  23. Psyche Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 18.756’ W 76° 06.249’
  24. Axman Island: N Corner
    N 44° 18.917’ W 76° 05.649’
  25. Sugar Island: W Side (Rocky Landing)
    N 44° 19.118’ W 76° 05.870’
  26. Sugar Island: W Side (Good Landing)
    N 44° 19.110’ W 76° 05.860’
  27. Corn Island: N Corner
    N 44° 19.200’ W 76° 07.670’
  28. Squaw Island: W Side
    N 44° 19.317’ W 76° 05.943’
  29. Gordon Island: NE Corner
    N 44° 19.942’ W76° 06.075’
  30. Misty Isles Cabins (Private Launch Site)
    N 44° 20.890’ W 76° 05.662’
  31. Sugar Island: NE Corner
    N 44° 19.098’ W 76° 05.491’
  32. Prince Regent Island: SW Corner
    N 44° 19.188’ W 76° 05.419’
  33. Princess Charlotte Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 19.207’ W 76° 04.875’
  34. Stave Island: SE Corner (Gananoque Narrows)
    N 44° 19.577’ W 76° 04.825’
  35. Downie Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 20.125’ W 76° 03.650’
  36. Channel Between Owen Island And Spellings Island
    N 44° 20.496’ W 76° 02.434’
  37. Popham Island: W Corner
    N 44° 20.710’ W 76° 02.450’
  38. Mulcaster Island: SE Corner
    N 44° 20.523’ W 76° 02.946’
  39. Ninette Island: NW Corner
    N 44° 20.682’ W 76° 03.126’
  40. Hickey Island: NE Side
    N 44° 20.481’ W 76° 04.006’
  41. Stave Island: W Side
    N 44° 20.095’ W 76° 04.650’
  42. Halsteads Bay (Public Launch Site: Exposed, Rocky)
    N 44° 21.127’ W 76° 04.597’
  43. Ivy Lea Camp Ground (Public Launch Site: Good Landing)
    N 44° 21.959’ W 75° 59.185’
CANADIAN THOUSAND ISLANDS WATER TRAIL: ROUTE 7
  1. Rockport (Public Launch Site: Limited Parking)
    N 44° 22.731’ W 75° 56.047’
  2. Tar Island: W Side
    N 44° 22.751’ W 75° 55.390’
  3. Thousand Island Parkway: Pull-Off (Public Launch Site: Boat Carry Down Moderate Hillside)
    N 44° 22.509’ W 75° 56.833’
  4. Club Island: NW Side
    N 44° 22.352’ W 75° 56.394’
  5. Tar Island: S End
    N 44° 22.736’ W 75° 55.458’
  6. Grenadier Island: SW Corner
    N 44° 23.116’ W 75° 54.360’
  7. Grenadier Island: Unnamed Small Island Off NW Corner
    N 44° 26.243’ W 75° 50.541’
  8. Larue Mills: Thousand Island Parkway
    N 44° 26.060’ W 75° 52.397’
  9. Across From Poole’s Resort Road (Public Launch Site)
    N 44° 25.335’ W 75° 53.496’
  10. Squaw Island (AKA Indian Island): W Side
    N 44° 25.135’ W 75° 52.550
  11. Grenadier Island: Fermans Point
    N 44° 26.015’ W 75° 51.316’
  12. Grenadier Island: Vansittart Point
    N 44° 25.543’ W 75° 50.341’
  13. Grenadier Island: Pitch Pine Point
    N 44° 23.835’ W 75° 52.780’
  14. Shanty Island: E Side
    N 44° 23.400’ W 75° 53.250’
  15. Hooper Island: E Side
    N 44° 23.330’ W 75° 53.640’
  16. Little Grenadier Island: E Side
    N 44° 22.905’ W 75° 54.560’
  17. Mallorytown Landing (Public Launch Site: Good Facilities)
    N 44° 27.171’ W 75° 51.584’
  18. Adelaide Island: E Side
    N 44° 26.123’ W 75° 50.241’
  19. Browns Bay Picnic Area (Public Launch Site: Exposed)
    N 44° 29.246’ W 75° 49.422’
  20. Jones Creek (Public Launch Site Off Road): Boat Carry Down Steep Hillside
    N 44° 30.209’ W 75° 48.364’

Accommodations:

There are many options in the area. I have stayed at, Spencer's Cottages for several years - Lynn and Chris are great people. At Misty Isles Lodge, you can also pay to park a car, and Misty Isles’ central location opens up many shuttle and other trip possibilities.
The preceding are only two of several other possibilities for lodging.

Outfitting:

I began paddling in the Canadian Thousand Islands with Scott Locorini, an ACA certified kayak instructor and the owner of Adirondack Exposure. Scott's teaching skills and generous sharing of information on the area have allowed me to progress both as a paddler and as a paddler in the Canadian Thousand Islands.

Other Outfitters can be found from this link:
www.paddle1000.com/Equipment%20Outfitters.htm

Fees:

Canada Parks does a superb job of maintaining the facilities. So please support their efforts by paying your fair share:
www.pc.gc.ca

Sugar Island:
sugar.islandertalk.com/

Directions:

From Syracuse, New York:
Take I-81 North to the Thousand Island Bridge and cross into Canada. Then take the the Thousand Island Parkway to Ganonaque, Ontario.

From Plattsburg, New York:
Take New York State Route 3 to Watertown, New York. From Watertown, New York, ake I-81 North to the Thousand Island Bridge and cross into Canada. Then take the the Thousand Island Parkway to Ganonaque, Ontario.

Contact:

Contact Information on many related organizations from this link: www.paddle1000.com/organizations.htm

Resources:

Again, the Thousand Island Water Trail website is a wonderful source of information:
www.paddle1000.com/about.html

Maps: Waterproof nautical charts are a must. Most of the area is well covered by Chart #78 (The Thousand Islands).
If you want to paddle the Bateau Channel, between Kingston and Bishops Point, Chart #141 (Kingston to Wolf Island Cut) is another chart to purchase.
Waterproof fishing maps can also be helpful. They have less detail clutter (e.g. no underwater electric cables) yet at the same time show more shoreline depth detail than nautical charts. I mostly use the Fishing Hot Spots series Map # S278 (St. Lawrence River - Central). The two other maps in this three map series you might need are: Map #S277 (St. Lawrence River – West) and Map #S279 (St. Lawrence River – East).

Books: Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Huron, Erie & Ontario, by Sarah Ohmann and Bill Newman, 1999.


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