Published Date: May 30, 2021

Exploring Grey’s Waterways

From Georgian Bay to Lake Eugenia, from the Beaver River to the Sydenham and the Saugeen, Grey County has miles of pristine waters to explore. Whether you're looking for a family- friendly canoe adventure, a challenging kayak experience or a sunset stand-up paddle, there's something for you here, on the water.

With a wealth of epic paddling experiences in our own backyard, a variety of knowledgeable  outfitters have set up shop in Grey County to offer rentals, guides and lessons. 

Before you dive in

What you pack for a day of paddling depends on your route, your chosen boat (kayak, canoe or stand-up-paddleboard aka; SUP) and the time of year. With that said, there are some simple things to keep in mind when you’re planning a paddle. First, whatever goes in the boat, could in theory, end up wet. Most outfitters sell dry bags specifically made to seal with several folds, keeping whatever is inside dry, even if the bag goes for a dip. This is a must have for sleeping bags and your tent if you’re canoe camping. It’s also a good idea for car keys, cell phones, cameras etc. If you’re canoeing or kayaking with kids, it’s a good idea to pack easy to eat snacks, books or small toys that will help keep them busy if you have a long paddle planned. Finally, Transport Canada has a number of rules about the safety equipment you must have on board for canoes, kayaks and SUPs. At a minimum, you need a personal flotation device for each person in your boat. To learn more, visit the Transport Canada website .

River Paddling and Tubing Safety Tips

  • Never paddle alone, and always stay with your group or partner.

  • Make a plan and share it with someone outside of your group.

  • Download the ‘what3words’ app for emergency services in case you need to call for help.

  • Rivers conditions and weather can be unpredictable. Check river conditions before you go and give yourself extra time to complete your route. Paddling in canoes and kayaks provides better control and creates a safer experience than floating in a tube.

  • Carry appropriate safety equipment including a bailer, buoyant rope and whistle.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather, including sunscreen and protective clothing.

  • Carry a cell phone in a dry bag but be aware that service may be limited on the river.

  • Bring food and plenty of water. Remember – alcohol and boating/tubing do not mix!

  • Always wear a life vest or a PFD, regardless of river conditions.

  • Stay aware and watch for hazards such as fallen trees, rocks or rapids.

  • Paddle in your skill level. If you’re not an experienced paddler, use one of our local guides or outfitters.

Great Grey Paddles

The Sydenham River: History on the water’s edge

This family-friendly river takes you from Harrison Park through Owen Sound’s historic downtown to the city’s East Boat Launch. The river offers unique views of Owen Sound’s heritage homes winding through marshlands along the Niagara Escarpment with lots of opportunities for viewing both wildlife and birds. Rent a boat from the Putt n’ Paddle in Harrsion Park then wrap up your journey with an ice cream and a walk through the park’s bird sanctuary.

The Beaver River: Beginners welcome

This gentle river flows 40 kilometres from Kimberley to Heathcote and was a key transportation route in the 19th century. Home to the great blue heron, the great horned owl, white tailed deer and its namesake – the beaver, this is a great route for beginner paddlers. Put ins are available on Grey Road 13 north of Kimberley, on the Epping Side Road and at Heathcote allowing you to vary your route from 6 to 15 kilometres. Please note that the Beaver River flows very slowly, and what might look like a 2 hour paddle can turn into 6 hours or more. 

The Saugeen: Placid pastures and swirling eddies

Beginning in the town of Hanover and flowing west into Lake Huron, the Saugeen River offers something for everyone. From placid stretches through rich farmland to swirling eddies and rapids, this river can be both family-friendly and challenging. With campgrounds available along i’s length, the full trip from Hanover to Southampton is 102 kilometres but paddlers can easily plot a course that suits their time frame. The Durham Conservation Area makes a great day use stop and also offers overnight camping.

Lake Eugenia: An inland treasure

Grey County’s largest inland lake offers excellent paddling and fishing. This is strictly a bring-your-own-boat option but with easy access to the public launch (with a nice swimming spot) and plenty of parking, Eugenia is a great place to explore.

Georgian Bay: Hit the open water

The waters of Georgian Bay are one of Grey County’s true gems. The aquamarine and dark blue hues are some of the most beautiful in the world. Mother Nature runs the show on the bay though, with conditions ranging from glassy to whitecaps. Sea kayaking is a great way to explore and calm days are perfect for stand-up paddleboards. Great places to launch are Northwinds Beach near Thornbury, Colpoy’s Bay near Wiarton or the Owen Sound Bay. Whether you’re going it alone or with a guide; let someone know your route and Check the marine forecast before heading out.

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