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700 $

Paddling Level: Experienced Whitewater
Portages: Multiple

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The Petawawa River runs the full width of Algonquin Provincial Park from its headwaters at the Tim River Access Point. Year after year, paddlers return to these shores to enjoy its vast wilderness and beauty. The Petawawa is a great river to travel, offering plenty of adventure, logging history and beauty: a true Canadian experience. 

As you start your journey, visit the Brent Ranger Cabin on Cedar Lake and the historic logging sites at Radiant lake, where you’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches and plentiful pickerel fishing. A bit further downriver is Lake Travers,  a great spot to practise your wolf howl! Algonquin wolves (also known as the Eastern Wolf) inhabit this area, but don't worry they keep a wide berth from humans.  

A casual day’s paddle from Lake Travers brings you to Crooked Chute, the most dangerous set of rapids along the Petawawa River.  Extreme caution is advised and portaging the lower portion is mandatory! The Crooked Chute Cabin and the Blair Fraser memorial site are both points of interest at this set of rapids.  

Further downriver is a rugged gorge called The Natch.  The campsite here is highly recommended for its stunning views and the fresh water spring nearby.  Follow the footpath from the campsite to reach the scenic lookout atop the gorge. 

The next few sets of rapids — Schooner and Five Mile — are highly praised for their ease and joy to paddle for the novice whitewater paddler. 

If you should find yourself along the north shore of Whitson Lake on the Petawawa River in the fall, be sure to look for the natural stand of Silver Maples.  Each October it displays its natural beauty in a full blown silver glow.  

From here it’s a short paddle to Lake McManus — the end of your journey on the Petawawa River.  Many campers have stood on this pebbly shore, gazing upriver in quiet contemplation, reflecting back on their journey, upon the memories and unforgetable wilderness they have just experienced.  

Rugged, wild and gorgeous. It’s one of Ontario’s premier whitewater paddling routes, offering experienced paddlers rapids classified from moderate to extremely dangerous. Please refer to the Algonquin Park’s official Petawawa River Whitewater Guide for rapid classifications and descriptions. It is a valuable resource available online or for purchase at our store.

Always scout rapids or portage around them if you are concerned about your ability to run them safely.

The two main stretches preferred by canoeists are: 

  • Cedar Lake to Lake McManus — 8 to 10 days
  • Lake Travers to Lake McManus — 3 to 4 days

Other options include departing from Wendigo and Kiosk access points.

Take out is mandatory at Lake McManus  where shortly thereafter the Petawawa River enters the Canadian Military Reserve.

Booking a car shuttle is recommended for those traveling with only one car.



Each year we camp with canoe/kayak or hike in the east side of Algonquin Park. Running the river rapids is also a favourite activity. Often our group will stop a the Algonquin Portage Store to rent equipment, pick up supplies or arrange car shuttles. The staff are friendly and want you to enjoy your experience in the Park and surrounding Ottawa Valley. The service is top notch!

Frank Knaapen

Founder, Outdoor Adventure Program, Algonquin College


The Petawawa River runs the full width of Algonquin Provincial Park from its headwaters at the Tim River Access Point.


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