Ottawa River Trip Report

August 7, 2022// Leave a comment

By: Charles Wygal

Time of Year : Late July
Level : -1.5 Feet

For first-timers from the states headed to the Ottawa, logistics are way easier than they appear. As long
as you cross without any food, alcohol, or cannabis, there is a super quick process of crossing the border.
My experience was crossing the Ogdensburg Bridge in late July. Once I crossed there was bad service, so
I stuck with my planned route till I neared population hotspots and could get updates. Once up there the
community is so warm and welcoming. If you get there in the AM it feels like a sin to start the day
without Timmy’s but with a belly full it's time to get on the river. My day started with hitting the
Pushbutton Wave in my Dagger Jitsu which provided smiles, a quality warmup, and great playboating.
To get to this wave there is a narrow pull-off in the driveway just west of the Whitewater Brewery. If you
drive too quickly you will miss it. This wave was a major hotspot for paddlers of all levels, new paddlers
seeking a fun crew to gain skill levels, all the way up to your seasoned vets giving free pointers on how
to best execute loops, blunts, and spins on this wave. The community was extremely inviting, and non-
elitist compared to other paddling hubs I’ve been to.

After spending the morning playing this wave it was time to head to Beachburg to catch their local
parade/festival and to score some poutine. Simply amazing after spending the morning playing hard
with a short lineup. From there it was to the putin of the run with my Dagger Supernova. The shuttle for this
run is super simple, we parked at the takeout lot which is very clearly marked by Wilderness Tours, and
the putin is managed by OWL rafting, also very clearly marked and easy to find. From there, our crew put
on and the joy began. This river is almost lakelike in nature, super scenic, with lots of various outdoor
recreationists enjoying the water and wide-open spaces. The rapids between are where the action
begins. With McCoy’s you really get to start the run with a bang. If you mess up you’re graced with plenty of
spectators to watch you have beatdown in the 2 massive holes. Skirt these though and the glassy fast
wave Babyface waits below for you to surf your face off. This wave allows you to spin, blunt, carve and
flick water with ease and joy. After a session there it was time to continue down to the legendary
Garburator. Super-fast entry and zippy in nature, the amphitheater and eddy’s alongside guarantee
spectators as well. A short way down we had another quick session at Pushbutton before exploring the
bottom half of the run. Not being local and it being my first trip the play turned into more river running
with some fun squirt lines and splat moves in this second half. Being on this river you really do feel a
small part of a big place. Along the way, you can see (with summertime low water) just how high the
water gets with the springtime flows. When we got to Coliseum it was evident with the viewing platform
of the Gladiator wave being very high out of the river above us. A few other squirt seams and splat
moves later and you reach the takeout. So much joy and fun along this deservingly iconic stretch of

Camping at Wilderness Tours riverside campsites you’re awarded with carrying your boat right to your
campsite, if you’re just using day access then you’ll need to walk up the road to your shuttle vehicle.
After drying off and changing clothes it was time to hit the Whitewater Brewery for some swag and
beers before completing the shuttle (the brewery is halfway along the shuttle drive, a great location if
you’re running a shuttle, but a poor location for those stuck in wet clothes at the takeout). Shuttle here is
quick, hard to mess up, and about as good as it gets. Finishing the day off I checked out Wilderness
Tours facilities. With huge event space, yard games, tasty food, an outdoor decked bar, and live music,

this place is rocking. With riverside camping being my option, check-in at Wilderness Tours for the site
was easy to manage. After getting back to the site I used my Salamander throw rope to put

Finishing up the trip I woke up from the site and made my way back to Pushbutton for a morning session
before heading back to Rochester NY. All smooth driving, crossing into the States was painless other
than a short line of cars that didn’t get through the border fast. All smooth sailing and beautiful sunny
skies, a sight I love but with his dry it’s been, led me once again to pray for rain here in the NE. After
reaching the end of the drive looking back on the morning, it was a glorious decision and worth delaying
an early return for the afternoon. Can’t wait to get back on some local whitewater but for now, it's travel
to the water.

The Ottawa Valley is high on my list of places to return, and I highly recommend any kayaker, especially
those who love surfing and playboating, to make their way up! As always, any time you’re on the river
utilize your safe judgment. Bring a throw bag, Salamander makes plenty of great options, keep a
whistle on you, assess features before you drop into them, and scout features if you don’t feel confident
with beta. With that said though, go out, have fun, spread the joy, and shred it up!


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