Did you know that two-thirds of Saskatchewan is covered in water? From the prairies to the Canadian Shield, the best way to explore the water is by canoe. Here are three adventures that showcase the province’s diverse waterways.
Bagwa Canoe Route
Prince Albert National Park
Experience the beauty of the boreal forest in Prince Albert National Park from the water. The route can be paddled in 7 - 10 hours but you can extend the trip by spending the night at one of the two backcountry campgrounds (Bagwa Lake or Lily Lake). Each site has pit toilets, bear caches, and tent pads. All campers must register at the Visitor Centre in the Waskesiu townsite. Access to the Bagwa Channel is along the west shore of Kingsmere Lake. The route has three easy portages marked with a white X. The first is the longest at 0.6 miles but is made easier with the provided rail cart. A quiet canoe is the best way to see great blue herons, loons, and red-necked grebes that nest along the channel. Canoe rentals are available from the Waskesiu Marina.
Chief Whitecap Waterway
Danielson Provincial Park to Saskatoon
Part of The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail), the Chief Whitecap Waterway is located on the South Saskatchewan River in the central part of the province and is the only water trail in the province. The 62 mile-plus route starts at the Gardiner Dam in Danielson Provincial Park and ends in the city of Saskatoon. It’s divided into 3 sections, with entry and exit points along the way. Each section is designed to accommodate beginner, intermediate, and advanced paddlers and has designated camping spots in various places along the route. The trail is meant to be paddled one way, south to north, so you will need a vehicle shuttle to your pick-up point. This can be arranged with CanoeSki in Saskatoon. The company also offers canoe rentals. The wide river is a slow and relatively worry free paddle. Highlights of this prairie-esque river include the many small sandy beach islands and big sandy cliffs along the riverbank and an abundance of wildlife.
Located in the northwestern part of the province on the edge of the Canadian Shield, the Clearwater River is designated as a Canadian Heritage River. Serious paddlers should have the Clearwater on their bucket list. In 1778, explorer Peter Pond was guided by the Dene Indigenous people through the 12.4-mile Methye Portage. This portage linked the Hudson Bay and Arctic watersheds, which opened the north to the fur trade and the early European explorers who paddled this route extensively. Today, canoeists can expect a river journey that will take them through spectacular canyons, picturesque waterfalls, rapids (some boulder-strewn), and scenic wilderness campsites. Because of the remoteness of the river and the difficulty of the rapids it is recommended that only skilled, experienced paddlers take on this trip. Route information and custom guided trips are offered by CanoeSki and Churchill River Outfitters.