Canoe Camp the Mississauga River
Rate this Adventure Canada › Missagua Dam, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
Added by Nathan Wheeler
This is an asome one day trip , or a two day camping trip , just outside Buckhorn Ontario
We start the trip with a stop at the take-out spot, at the bottom . If we can, we will leave a car at the take-out. There is a nice toilet at the take-out, and a detailed map showing the route. https://goo.gl/maps/r3Zm51ueYhK2
We then drive the other car ~20minutes or so, to the top put-in location (optionally a nice friend of yours could drop you and the canoe(s) off at the top). https://goo.gl/maps/
Just before we get to the top put-in, we generally stop at the first bridge that we will canoe under. This gives a chance to see water levels, and plan which spot is best to go under the bridge...generally to the west most side of the bridge. If a friend is dropping you off, have them stop here to catch you going by on camera. (Warning there is poison ivy besides the road at the west end of the bridge). https://goo.gl/maps/KU7YGmK9Khn
If you start with your canoes at the top parking area, you begin with a portage right away.... We actually try to drop the canoes just below the dam to avoid this (from a nice cottagers place).
When the canoes are in the water we load the canoes with lunch/water/camping gear, and get to paddling. After a little rapid trill, which may require some foot shoving and wading, you get to the first bridge.
There is a lot of calm and peaceful paddling but there is also a nice variety of fun rapids. There are small rapids for beginners and up to class 3 for more advanced paddlers. It is recommended to stop at the top of each rapid and check out where you would go and look for obsturctions. Logs occasionally will go down the rapids so it could be a bit differnet each year. This will also give you a chance to decide if you want to portage. There are nice Yellow Portage marks all along the way. We don't take most of them, but stop, check it out, and be sure you are confident before proceeding. There are some that you can "line" portage, a little walk can help you decide the best way to proceed safely.
With one canoe it will be 5-7 hours dipending if you paddle consistently. I have been down with a group of 6 canoes and it turned into a 10 hour trip, due to waiting at the rapid runs, portages, and a longer lunch.
There are 4 to 6 mandatory portages, depending on water levels.
There are camp sites (#600-605) along the river that you can book on the Ontario parks site Under Kawartha highlands. I have taken this trip 7 times so far, and have only seen people at a spot once, and I think they were only doing lunch...not camping. https://reservations.ontarioparks.com/KawarthaHighlands?Map
I made two videos of the trip. A short trailer video which shoes some of the exciting bits: http://youtu.be/nec5BuuaABY
And a longer one which gives a more complete view: http://youtu.be/dKq-BxYxuKE
You DO NOT want to even THINK about taking your expensivce kevlar/fiberglass canoe down here. There are lots of rocks, and shallow areas where scratching/bumping are unavoidable.
We rent canoes from:adventureoutfitters.ca
I recommend renting the fast water canoe as it (1) handles well, and (2) is lighter than the other styles for portage. Plan for an 80 lb canoe + the weight of your stuff... We mainly do one-trip portages, but if you plan on camping you may have more stuff and need to do two trip portages.
If you plan to camp, pack light, and plan to tip, so dry pack your stuff. Remember portages, so pack light.. If you can, bring a water proof pack, because you will get wet, otherwise Zip-Lock bag what ever you want to stay dry.
Bring light clothes and shoes that dry fast. We either wear water shoes, or old sneakers that will end up being wet all day. Mesh running shoes that drain are best. There are some Rapids that we walk through with water levels typically calf to waist range...with an occasional plunge or trip getting totally soaked.
I don't recommend shorts. Long pants help prevent calf-level contact with poison ivy and to help reduce scratching your legs on branches or rocks etc. If you are concerned bring soap and wash your legs after each time you think you touched poison ivy, I have had it (not from this trip though), and you don't want it. Trust me. However most people on the trip simply walk into the water at the bottom of the portage, and rub some sand/waters edge mud on the calves where a leaf of poison ivy touched, and don't get a reaction. If you don't know what poison Ivy looks like then get educated. There is some at two or three portages, and at the take-out bridge and take out waters edge. It is generally easy to avoid, if you know what it looks like, but we generally wash calves every time we pass it just as a precaution...haven't got it after any of our trips.
Bring a cell-phone and double wrap it in freezer zip-lock bags to keep it dry. Also a must for the take-out car: dry socks and towels!, in fact you likely would appreciate a zip-lock bag packed pair of dry socks for lunch...simple luxury..but worth it!. We generally bring a towel in a large zip-lock bag for lunch also.
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