This post originally appeared on the Travel Manitoba blog.
In Manitoba, dipping a paddle into one of our 100,000+ lakes and waterways is a must-do every summer. Both beginners and seasoned paddlers can find a route to suit their needs with plenty of flat water or whitewater to go around. So gear up, head outdoors, and paddle your heart out in this province’s backcountry.
Black River, Nopiming Provincial Park
In the Anishinabe language, Nopiming means “entrance to the wilderness,” and it’s easy to see how this park got its name. The Black River route takes about four days to paddle in its entirety, and it is advisable to paddle the river in May when high water levels make it a whitewater challenge. The rugged Canadian Shield scenery is breathtaking, with granite rock cliffs, mixed forests, swampy flatland, and many rapids.
Caddy Lake Tunnels, Whiteshell Provincial Park
These man-made tunnels date back to the creation of the Trans Canadian Railway. A perfect adventure for a day trip or two-night weekend adventure, the Caddy Lake Tunnels route connects South and North Cross Lakes and offers secluded picnic and backcountry camping along the shore.
Grass River, Grass River Provincial Park
This legendary paddling route in the heart of Northern Manitoba will take you through the boreal forest from Cranberry Portage to Wekusko Falls and past the ancient Aboriginal pictographs at Tramping Lake, where images are painted in red ochre on rock faces. While not a short paddling route, it’s a favourite in Manitoba’s sub-Arctic region.
Pinawa Channel, Eastern region
This leisurely paddling day-trip only takes about an hour to complete and goes through one of the most scenic areas of Southern Manitoba. The Pinawa channel was excavated at the turn of the 20th century, creating the cliffs of rock that line the shore. En route, take a lunch break at the Pinawa Heritage Suspension Bridge and keep your eyes peeled for birds of all types, including swans. The journey concludes at the Old Pinawa Dam Provincial Historic Park, where locals walk along the ruins and picnic alongside the rapids.
Manigotagan River, Eastern region
Located just over three hours northeast of Winnipeg, the Manigotagan River is a popular playground for hiking and paddling. The most popular portion of the route is nestled between the northern edge of Nopiming Provincial Park and the community of Manigotagan along the east shore of Lake Winnipeg. This adventure is beyond the boundaries of popular cottage country, so be prepared to commune with nature, not other travellers.
Bloodvein River, Eastern region
A Canadian Heritage River, the Bloodvein offers challenging whitewater paddling with both rapids and waterfalls—perhaps an adventure that a paddler wouldn’t expect to find in the prairie province of Manitoba. The Bloodvein River area is remote with true unspoiled beauty, and rich with Indigenous and Canadian fur trade history.
Seal River, Northern region
Manitoba’s most northern paddling route, Seal River is a challenge only undertaken each summer by intrepid adventures who have experience in the wilds of sub-Arctic environs. The challenge comes with big rewards: 260 kilometres of whitewater, deep gorges, marshes, tidal flats, islands, shelves, and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities (this is polar bear and beluga whale territory after all).