Welcome to the Ottawa Valley
A region renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes and abundant outdoor activities. Today, we invite you on a memorable kayaking journey through the tranquil waters of the Bonnechere River just outside of Round Lake Centre in Ontario, Canada.
June 13th, 2023
First, We Eat
Before embarking on our kayaking adventure, our growling stomachs reminded us of the need for sustenance. Our initial plan was to have lunch at The Sands on Golden Lake, but to our disappointment, they were only open for dinner on Tuesdays. We soon discovered that several restaurants in the area followed similar schedules, possibly due to the early June timeframe. I assume that many establishments were still transitioning to their summer hours. To avoid any dining mishaps, we recommend calling ahead to restaurants you're interested in visiting to ensure they are open.
We decided to venture into the nearby town of Killaloe to satisfy our hunger. I had forgotten just how beautiful this little valley town is. My aunt has lived here for years, but we don't visit as much as we should. I loved walking along the creek and over the covered bridge. It is such a picturesque village with lots of great scenery to take in!
We stumbled upon a hidden gem called Garth's Kitchen, a tiny hole-in-the-wall eatery that offered a limited menu. However, what they lacked in variety, they more than made up for in flavour!
We savoured delicious donairs, an eastern specialty, and were pleasantly surprised by the superb quality of the food! *Chefs kiss* Opting for a to-go order, we took our meals to Killaloe Station Park, a tranquil spot by the creek, where we could enjoy our lunch amidst nature's embrace.
Home of the Beavertail
While in Killaloe, we couldn't resist indulging in a beloved Canadian treat—Beavertails! Did you know that Killaloe is the birthplace of Beavertail pastries? We knew we had to get our hands on a couple of these delectable pastries, so we made a beeline for the Beavertails stand in the park. Offering a variety of mouthwatering flavours, we treated ourselves to these iconic Canadian desserts. They did the job for satisfying our sweet cravings. And the best part? The Beavertails stand is open all summer long, seven days a week, so you can enjoy them whenever you visit!
Sheryl Boyle Park: The Perfect Starting Point
After we filled our tummy's, we made our way to our launch point. Nestled amidst the rolling hills and natural beauty of Round Lake. Sheryl Boyle Park served as the perfect spot to launch our kayaks. This charming park not only provides ample parking spaces, but also offers convenient amenities such as picnic tables and bathrooms. It's the ideal place to kick off your kayaking adventure with a beautiful sandy beach. One thing to note: the park is only open from July-September, so the amenities were not open quite yet for our paddling trip. If you need to go to the bathroom before you paddle, the corner store on Deer Trail Road has facilities you can use.
Making Our Way to the Bonnechere
We pushed off from the shoreline and embarked on a 1.5km paddle northward, towards the mouth of the Bonnechere River. The wind had picked up, so the waves on the lake were a little high. But, our Oru Beaches took the waves like champs! We paddled by beautiful cottages along the sandy shores of Round Lake. Always be sure to stay inland and not too far away from the shore while kayaking. This is quite a large lake, and if unexpected weather strikes, you will want to be close to land to seek refuge. Not to mention, this is a busy lake and there is lot of boat traffic.
Exploring the Bonnechere River
You will find your way to the mouth of the river just as you approach the point after the large sandy beach. The moment we entered the river, the waves calmed down and we were greeted by a perfectly still tributary. The reflections were amazing!!
The meandering river winds its way along the serene Bonnechere Provincial Park, creating a captivating environment for exploration.
Pristine Waterway and Enchanting Forests
As we glided along the clear, sparkling waters, we were greeted by the embrace of lush forests. The protected nature of the provincial park ensures that the Bonnechere River remains an untouched haven, allowing us to appreciate the unspoiled beauty of its surroundings.
A Wildlife Oasis: Nature's Delights
The Bonnechere River is home to a diverse range of wildlife, and we were fortunate to witness some remarkable sightings. Majestic blue herons took flight before our eyes, gracefully soaring through the sky. And we saw a ton of turtles basking in the sun, adding to the charm of this enchanting journey.
One of the highlights of our adventure was the encounter with not one, but four beavers! We heard loud splashes and saw them making their way to and from their dams. We even heard one of them slapping its tail on the surface of the water! It was a true testament to the thriving ecosystem of the Bonnechere River.
Continuing our paddle for approximately 3 kilometres upstream, we reached a significant landmark—a large sand dune. For Scott, this sand dune held a special memory as he fondly recalled running down it as a child when he attended Camp Mishewah. It was a moment that beautifully intertwined nostalgia with the natural wonders of the area.
Dealing with Mosquitoes
As the forest thickened and we paddled deeper into the woods, our journey faced a temporary challenge - in the form of thousands of mosquitoes! Unfortunately, we hadn't come prepared with bug spray, a lesson learned the hard way. If you plan to embark on this adventure yourself, we highly recommend bringing bug spray. You could also wear, or bring long sleeves and pants to help to protect from these pesky insects. We were very fortunate to come across some campers in the park who kindly tossed us some bug spray to help deal with the pests. Never again will we embark on a paddling journey without that handy stuff in our dry bag!
A Swift Return: Traveling with the Current
Despite the mosquito interruption, the return journey was swift and enjoyable. With the current on our side, it only took around 30 minutes to paddle back to the mouth of the river, where we bid farewell to the buzzing pests and embraced the tranquility once again.
Reconnecting with Nature
As we arrived back at the mouth of the Bonnechere River, we couldn't help but revel in the serenity that enveloped us. The journey had provided us with a profound sense of reconnection with nature, allowing us to escape the stresses of everyday life and immerse ourselves in the peacefulness of this great adventure. As parents, we don't get a lot of time to ourselves, so this was a well-needed moment for us!
The Journey Back
The wind had calmed down by the time we returned to Round Lake, and our paddle back to the car was quick and easy. We took our time, as we weren't quite ready to end our time together on the water. When we did meet the shoreline, we folded up our kayaks, packed them into the SUV and headed to my parents place to pick up our daughter.
The Perfect Paddle Destination
If you're seeking a kayaking adventure that combines a 6km journey filled with natural beauty and wildlife encounters, the Bonnechere River is the perfect destination for you. Don't forget your bug spray and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Ottawa Valley!
Tried this paddle yourself? Don't forget to tag @OVAP.Ottawa in your photos! We'd love to see you adventures and even share them on our page (with permission, of course!) If you have any questions about paddling the Bonnechere, or any other rivers or lakes in the Ottawa Valley, be sure to drop us a line. We are always happy to discuss paddling journeys near or far!