Little Chaudière Rapids: Dessert Wave

Little Chaudière Rapids are located downstream from the Champlain Bridge in on the Ottawa River adjacent to the Tunney's Pasture government complex. This rapid has 2 playspots: the Sewer Wave which is in at medium to high water in the spring, and the Dessert Wave which is around at all water levels.

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.
Dessert Wave photographed from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

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:
The Dessert Wave is in the middle of the Ottawa River which is probably 300m to 400m wide in this area. There are 3 main access points to the Dessert Wave:

(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.

A paddler dropping onto the Dessert Wave
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.


Andy Mason said...

I was always under the impression that the feature was called the Desert Wave, but I could be wrong about that part.

The part I'm certain of is that it's in the Little Chaudiere rapids. Remic rapids, believe it or not, is what the Champlain bridge crosses, and Bate Island is in the middle of. The confusion probably stems from the placement of the Remic Rapids lookout on the Ottawa River Parkway. Similar to how the Deschenes lookout looks upriver at the Deschenes rapids, so does the Remic Rapids lookout look upriver at Remic, it just happens to also be beside the Little Chaudiere rapids...

Here's a link to a map that shows the area:

Butter said...

My understanding is that it's not the Desert wave. I've paddled there since 1999 and some of the older paddlers that I went there with explained to me that it is named the Dessert wave (as in after a meal not sand) because it was paddled after you had your main course at the Champlain Bridge waves.

I was not aware of the actual placement of Remics Rapids and have never heard the name Little Chaudiere rapids. I'll look it up and change the names on my blog if necessary.