Guided Grand River canoe and kayak trips have been attracting many families new to the experience of river paddling. Over 30,000 paddlers visit the Grand River in Southern Ontario yearly. Many paddlers brush through the valley totally unaware of what is there.
This river is rich in native history steeped in the wars of the Mohawks, Huron and other Iroquoian nations. It contains the largest selection of plants, wildlife and trees in Canada. There are fresh springs to taste and many historical points of interest. The fishing is excellent with over 80 species of recorded fish. And the return of rare species such as ospreys, eagles and beaver have given the valley bragging rights.
For the novice new to the Grand River… a guided trip is a unique way of opening the door. Guided trips not only insure safety between point A and B, but offer instructional teaching on river paddling techniques. But the highlight of every trip is the rich enhancement of experiencing the plants, wildlife and native history of the valley.
Most of the Grand River outfitting companies are located along the picturesque section of the Grand River between Kitchener and Brantford. There are presently six companies offering guiding services. They are open from April until November, seven days a week with variable hours of operation. All the companies have websites and can be easily located by googling “Grand River guided canoe trips”.
The cost of guiding services between outfitters is basically the same. Small exclusive groups vary from $60 to $100 per person excluding tax. Large groups cost around $25 to $40 per person excluding tax. These prices include all equipment, guide, upstream shuttle service and sometimes lunch.
The guided “trip” works as follows… the customer parks their vehicle at the trip exit point and then shuttled upstream to paddle back to their vehicle with the guide. Most trips are 3 to 5 hours of leisure paddling depending on which section of the watershed is chosen.
The prettiest wilderness section to paddle on the Grand River is a 3 hour trip between Glen Morris and Paris. For a unique 6-7 hour paddle which can be broken into a relaxing weekend trip, there is the Glen Morris to Brant Park… offering the best of the Grand River. If new to the Grand River ask the outfitter to recommend a suitable trip to match paddling skills.
Guiding services can vary and it is always wise to inquire. Some guides basically deliver customers from point A to B on the river with a set time schedule. Other guides are certified instructors which can teach proper strokes and steering techniques. The best guides not only instruct paddling techniques but teach and explore the river valley.
Many customers upon arrival expect their own exclusive guide only to discover that they have been batched with other groups. These “one-guide-batch” trips are often a unpleasant experience. The slowest paddler holds up the entire group and diverts most of the guide’s attention. When booking a guided trip inquire whether it is a batch or exclusive service being provided. Exclusive guided services costs more but the learning experience is worth it.
After a guided trip, many have gained the “river smarts” and confidence to explore on their own… and are encouraged to do so. The Grand River offers lots of opportunity. It is the largest watershed in Southern Ontario with over 300 kilometers of nearby wilderness paddling from the Bruce Highlands to the shores of Lake Erie.
But the best thing about the Grand River is that it is one of the few pristine rivers where a family can drive one hour from Toronto… experience a day’s wilderness paddle… and still be in their own bed at night.