City of Ottawa Whitewater
This is a blog dedicated to the whitewater paddling community in the City of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. I hope it can be a useful resource for all that want to play in the whitewater of our city. Paddle safe!
Changes to City of Ottawa Whitewater
Remic Rapids: Champlain Bridge - The Wall
What's it like: At high water The Wall is a class III rapid that consists of a series of 3 to 4 surfable wave-holes that have eddy access, are retentive for all boat lengths, and allow all wave and hole freestyle tricks to be done. However, as the water levels fall, the waves become smaller, some disappear, and the eddy becomes unattainable from below.
Below 58.5 - eddy is small, you have to portage up island for each ride, waves are small.
58.5 - the eddy is in, but rope needed to reattain the top
58.7 - you can paddle up the eddy with effort
59.0 - the eddy is full with little effort needed to paddle up, the waves are steep and retentive
Above 59.1 - you are recirculated to the top of eddy and the waves continue to be great. The higher the water level the more the the playspots become breaking waves and lose their hole character.
Champlain surfing at 59.3 on the Britannia Gauge.
Safety Concerns: In the spring and fall the water is cold so make sure that you are wearing the appropriate insulating equipment like Farmer Johns, dry pants, a dry top, gloves / mits / pogies, and head insulation to prevent those ice cream headaches. Make sure that you carry the appropriate rescue equipment like tow-lines, throw bags, and a first-aid kit. Moreover, the water is flowing through here quite fast and, as such, you should never paddle alone! Paddle with a group of experienced paddlers. Every year someone paddles there alone or with someone that doesn't have rescue training or the appropriate rescue gear, and there is a swimmer that gets taken far downstream and is in the water for a long time. This is a risk for hypothermia, hospitalization, and even death. If you are not an experienced paddler this is not the time of year to learn here. Wait until the warm summer water is around.
How to get there: The Champlain Bridge is located in the western part of the City of Ottawa, in Ontario, Canada. The bridge links Ottawa with the Aylmer section of Gatineau Quebec. To get there from Ottawa take Island Park Drive north and it eventually becomes the Champlain Bridge. Exit at Bate Island and park. The waves are right beside the parking lot. From the Quebec side of the river take Boulevard Lucerne or Boulevard D'Aylmer until they intersect with the Champlain Bridge.
Below are a few videos of the Champlain Bridge Waves at high water.
Remic Rapids: Champlain Bridge - Center Waves
Remic Rapids at the Champlain Bridge are a popular after-work learning area and play area for whitewater paddlers in the Ottawa area. At low water levels Remic Rapids offers a couple of play spots in the middle of the river between Bate Island and the Quebec shore: the Center Wave and the Training Wave. Moreover, there is a large eddy and beach on Bate Island that is great for teaching beginners how to roll and basic paddling technique.
How to get there: The Champlain Brigde is the western most bridge connecting Ottawa and Gatineau. It can be accessed fom Island Park Drive or the Ottawa River Parkway on the Ontario side of the river. On the Quebec side of the river it is accessed from Boulevard de Lucerne or Chemin d'Aylmer. Once traveling over the bridge exit halfway across the bridge onto Bate Island. All playspots are located between Bate Island and the Quebec shore.
Click on the above map to interact with it. This map shows the loaction of the Champlain Bridge Rapids off of Bate island. The Center Wave and Training Wave playspots are marked in the middle of the river at the Ontario/Quebec border.
What it's like: At low water there are 2 main playspots:
1) Center Wave: These are actually 2 waves at the front of a wave train. The water here is deep. Traditionally this has been the best playspot in the summer in the City of Ottawa. However, in 2003 there was a shift of some sort on the river bed that made the first wave much more difficult to catch and very flushy. The first wave here is definitely a wave for longer boats. It is fast, flushy, and green. Right behind the first wave, the second wave can be caught by short boats for short but really fun and dynamic surfs.
This is a picture of a paddler surfing the first wave of the Center Wave at Remic Rapids.
2) Training Wave: This is a very small wave / hole that can be surfed in short boats. The wave part is good for front surfs and the hole is OK for a cartwheel or loop at medium water levels. This are is quite shallow so make sure that you stay upright at low water.
This photo shows the Training Wave which is located to the river left of the Center Wave. In this picture the Training Wave is the pile that is closest to the camera.
Both of these playspots are accessed from a very large mid river eddy.
Safety: When heading out here, make sure that you head out with someone else because a swim here would be very long.
Little Chaudière Rapids: Dessert Wave
The Dessert Wave at Little Chaudière Rapids is bitter sweet. It is the best playwave in the City of Ottawa but it doesn't have eddy access. The Center Wave playspot at Remic Rapids by the Champlain Bridge, until recently, was the best playspot at low water in the summer in the city. After the 'main course' of paddling at Remic's Center Wave, or if the line-ups got too big, you would paddle down to surf the wave at Little Chaudière Rapids for dessert. Thus, the wave was given its name.
How to get there: Little Chaudière Rapids is about 500m downstream of the Champlain Bridge adjacent to the Tunney's Pasture government complex. Click on the map below to interact with it and get directions:
(1) If you go to the "Remic Rapid Lookout" on the Ottawa Parkway near Tunney's pasture, look to the middle of the river and you will see the wave. It's the biggest white foam pile out there. Put in above the rapid.
(2) You can paddle downstream from the Champlain Bridge Rapids. As you are paddling downstream line up the Peace Tower of Parliment Hill and the train bridge closest to the Ontario shore and that will take you too approximately where the Dessert Wave is located.
(3) The prefered access to Little Chaudière Rapids is at the end of Rue Begin at Parc Brebeuf in Gatineau. Put in above the rapid. The Sewer Wave (another playspot out at medium to high water) can be accessed from here as well.
What it's like: You will see the Dessert Wave coming as you approach it from above. The wave is big and glassy, with pile on the top. It is a slower moving wave. The higher the water level, the bigger the wave. It will hold 2 or 3 paddlers easily at higher water levels. At medium to high water you have one shot at catching the wave on the way down. If you miss it or get blown off you have to paddle to shore, walk up, and put-in again. The Dessert Wave is great for any wave move... spins, blunts, backstabs, donkey flips / air screws, loops, etc.
Water Levels: At low water below 57.7 on the Britannia gauge, the Dessert Wave can be reattained by paddling to the river left immediately after you come off of the wave. There is a rock shelf almost adjacent to the wave on the river left. Paddle left after coming off the wave. If the water is low enough you will beach yourself on the rockshelf then you can get out of your boat and walk up to reattain the wave. There is still water running over the shelf so beware of foot entrapement! Above 57.7 you have one shot at hitting the wave. Once you're off you have to paddle back to the Quebec shore to try again. This can take 20 minutes or more.
Surfing and setting up for a blunt on the Dessert Wave
Surfing the Dessert Wave
Safety: It's location and lack of eddy service means that it is not often that you will see paddlers there. It's best to head out with another paddler because a swim there could be really long. The Chaudiere Falls are 1km downstream and going over these would mean certain death. Moreover, it may be difficult to find so it's always good to paddle with someone that knows how to get there.
Little Chaudière Rapids: Sewer Wave
Below is a video shot at a level of 58.6 on the Britannia gauge. My thanks to mmmpaddle's youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/user/mmmpaddle
Rideau River - Back Bacon Hole at Hogs Back Falls
Hogs Back Falls is a popular recreational spot with families. There is a picnic area nearby, there is swimming upstream at Mooney's Bay, and there is plenty of green space for summer sports. The waterfall itself is beautiful and, depending on what line you take, is a class V rapid. That being said, the waterfalls are extremely dangerous and should never be run.
Deschenes Rapids Medium/High Water Playspot - Near Channel
Deschenes Rapids at Low Water - Lower JJ's Wave
Water Levels: The wave comes out at low water with the Britannia River Gauge reading about 57.7.
Safety: DO NOT RUN THE DESCHENES RAPID from above! The Deschenes Rapids are dangerous at all levels. The rapid along the Quebec shore runs through an old hydro facility that has crumbled. As such, it is full of potential pin spots that can kill if you run it from above (see the pictures below). Never paddle alone.
Location: This rapid is located between Aylmer, Quebec and the Britannia area of Ottawa on the Ottawa River. To get to the surf wave you have to paddle up from below the rapid on the Quebec side.
The remaining structures are essentially big strainers. There are multiple holes and potential pin spots throughout the walls.
Below the structures, near the Quebec shore, is a great little surf wave.
Wave character: The wave is like a small bowl with a pile that keeps even the shortest boats surfing on it. This wave, called Lower JJ's, is great for spins and decent for blunts. You can front surf this thing forever. Right above the wave there is an old fishing boat pinned against the structure which has a rope attached to it. This rope extends downstream to the eddy abutting the wave and could be a hazard. This eddy is quite boily and, at times, you feel that you are being pushed into the wall nearest the wave. About 100ft below the wave is a small shallow pourover and there is some lumber just downstream of the pourover. The wave itself is very deep but there is still potential for rebar under the water there so be careful.
Deschenes Rapid - BYOB Wave
The put in is at the public boat launch at the end of Rowatt street in Ottawa. From the put in paddle along the shorline , you will see the wave as you go downstream. It is a class II-III depending on the water level. The wave is 15 feet out from shore.
Click here for a map.
There is a large eddy for access on the river right as pictured above.
The take out is half way down Cassels , just look for the hiking path where there is a no bikes/dogs sign, (can't miss it ) just park on the side of the road. When finished your session at the wave, just paddle downstream for 2 minitues , you will see the takeout path in between 2 large trees, follow it for a minute and you are at your car.
Caution: although the wave is small at these water levels, we are unsure of how its character changes with the level. As such, scout it before you run it. As always, never paddle alone.
The photos of this wave were taken at a level of 58.1 on the Britannia Gauge.