The Rideau is a paddlers' paradise offering excellent flatwater paddling.
Access is very easy at any of over 30 launch ramps and most lockstations. Those traveling the length of the canal have the option of "locking through" the locks or portaging past them. Those camping will find it convenient at the many campgrounds or at the lockstations. Those wishing to enjoy a more decadent trip may wish to stay in B&Bs along the route. With over 1,091 km (675 miles) of shoreline on the Rideau, there's so much to explore.
Best Time to Paddle
The shoulder seasons, May/June and September/October are typically the best times to paddle the Rideau. During these months, paddlers will encounter fewer powerboats on the water and more moderate temperatures in the region. Fewer visitors also means more availability (and sometimes better prices) when it comes to accommodation along the route.
If you wish to paddle during the height of powerboat season (July and August), the trip can still be fantastic. Unlike powerboats, canoes and kayaks do not have to follow the channel. In fact most paddlers prefer to follow the shoreline and take a less direct route from one lock to another, away from the noise and wake of powerboats, and closer to interesting sights on shore. You may even decide to portage into one or more of the canals numerous feeder lakes and rivers.
Best Direction to Paddle
If you wish to travel the Rideau in its entirety or to paddle a large section, the best direction to go is from Kingston to Ottawa for two reasons. First, the prevailing southwest winds blow in that general direction. There is nothing worse than tackling a large lake such as the Big Rideau and paddling for miles into a stiff, rough south wind. Second, as you approach Ottawa, the current becomes a factor to a small extent.
For a complete comprehensive luxury guide of Routes - Lockstations and Outfitters please click on the following links