Batchawana River Route

CanadaOntarioLake Superior basin
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Admin
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Don McGorman
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
48 km
Duration: 
4 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
9
Total Portage Distance: 
2975 m
Longest Portage: 
600 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Portaging: 
Moderate
Remoteness: 
Novice
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

The route starts on the river at Batchawana Station on the Algoma Central Railway, located approximately 128 km north of Sault Ste. Marie. The trip ends at Highway 17.

After disembarking from the train at Batchawana Station, make a short carry to the river on the north side of the track.
PORTAGE #1, 82 metres
Shortly after passing under the railway bridge, the first portage is situated on the west side of the river and circumvents some very fast water going over a drop of about 2.5 metres.
PORTAGE #2, 459 metres
This portage is located on the east side of the river. The trail has been obliterated and is replaced by a logging road which should be followed parallel to the river until past the power line. The first branch in the road going towards the river, and past the power line, should be followed to the river and then make your way for approximately 92 metres along the river bank.
PORTAGE #3, 596 metres
The road previously mentioned, for portage #2, follows along the east side of the river and can be entered at a point where the first rapids are observed. Follow this road until a steep grade is observed. The river may be entered just prior to the grade and the next portion of the water.
NOTE: A further portage of 1560 metres can be made along the road, if you don`t want to shoot the second set of rapids. The road climbs to higher ground but roughly parallels the river.
The river between portage #3 and #4 is a series of small rapids and fast moving water easily traversed in high water, but not in low water.
PORTAGE #4, 229 metres
WARNING !!!! - THIS IS A HAZARDOUS AREA - USE EXTREME CAUTION !!!!

Some warning of approach to this portage is given by the sight of a waterfall coming off a cliff on the left bank of the river. This water comes out of the Chain Lakes marked on the map. Caution is required on this portage, as a fairly good sized waterfall is located below the rapids. The portage is on the right side of the river before the waterfall.
PORTAGE #5, 69 metres
This section was run by the party collecting this information, but caution is needed and it is recommended that a portage be made to cover the short
distance involved. The portage would be on the west side of the river. From here down, sections of the Tribag Mine access road, which connects with Highway 17 North, can be observed on the west side of the river.
PORTAGE #6, 185 metres
This portage circumvents a spectacular falls and is located on the right side of the river, only a matter of 23 metres or so from the lip of the falls.
DANGER ZONE at high water!
PORTAGE #7, 527 metres
This portage is located on the right side of the river, all that is needed is to follow the road. After the fast water has passed, you cut back to the river through a short distance of bush. This portage circumvents a rapid with a falls.
PORTAGE #8, 527 metres
This portage goes around another spectacular falls. The entrance to the portage is on the left bank of the river and is somewhat tricky, as the water is quite fast and you must stay close to the bank. This portage is approximately 900 metres below #7. This is a DANGER ZONE. Extreme caution is required.
PORTAGE #9, 298 metres
This portage on the right side of the river bypasses a series of three sets of rapids. The first and third may be run, if the water is high enough.

Campsites beyond this point are not particularly inviting as the river banks become very steep.

Shortly, you will be arriving at Highway 17 and the mouth of the Batchawana River. At this point your trip will terminate

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
<p>41 N/1 Batchewana 41 N/2 Mamainse Point 41 K/15 Pancake Bay 41 K/16 Searchmont</p>
Other
Special Comments: 

The trip should only be made in the May and early June period when the water levels are up. The river traverses some very beautiful Algoma country, but it is not particularly well suited to angling as it flows rapidly, and one can see the river literally slant away from them on some stretches. It lacks the wandering aspect of some rivers and consequently lacks the development of pools along its length. Good campsite locations, although not marked, are located along the river.

Persons wishing to make this trip would travel via the Algoma Central Railway (ACR) from Sault Ste. Marie. The train operates northbound and southbound on a daily basis from May to October. The train leaves Sault Ste. Marie at 8:00 a.m. (eastern daylight time) and arrives at Batchawana Station prior to noon hour (eastern daylight time). To check if this time table has changed or for further information and rates, contact:
Passenger Sales Centre
Algoma Central Railway
129 Bay Street
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 1W7

Telephone: (705) 254-4331

For those requiring pickup at Highway 17 and the Batchawana River, it is advisable to make arrangements before beginning the journey. There are outfitters in the area who may provide this service.

Don McGorman
mcgormd@hotmail.com

Comments

Post date: Wed, 05/28/2014 - 07:31

Comments: 

I paddled the river again on May 24-26, 2014. The gauge read 3.071 when we put-in and 2.9 when we completed the trip. It was an enjoyable float at this level. Not much different than the conditions I paddled last year at 2.8. The river did not feel at all pushy at this higher level. On this trip we put-in at Batchawana Station which is a few kilometers upstream from the rail bridge.

On this trip I portaged the second falls on the left instead of on the right as I did on the last trip. The trail on the left is a much better choice. To find the trail after you land on shore, walk up the hill to the ridge and then head downstream. A trail should eventually appear. If you cannot find the trail; bushwack to the put in and backtrack to the take out. The trail is much easier to see and follow as it gets closer to the put-in. The put-in is a pretty spot with room for a tent if you wish to camp here.

The rapids on just above Batchawana Falls (4th falls) are the most challenging of the trip. You can scout these from the logging road on the right bank. By running these rapids on the right side, you will avoid the nasty stuff. You will take-out on the right bank before the river turns to the left and plunges over the falls.

Post date: Thu, 07/25/2013 - 04:46

Comments: 

I paddled the Batchawana River from the ACR tracks to the Highway 17 bridge on July 20 and 21, 2013. The water level for both days was 2.8. At this level there was plenty of water providing many options when negotiating the rapids. There are five sets of waterfalls that have to be portaged on this stretch of river. The rapids on this river are class I and II. There are no ledges or holes to be concerned with. If you are an intermediate whitewater paddler, you should not have to portage any of the rapids.
The train will drop you off on the north side of the bridge that crosses the river. There is a trail that will take you to the bottom of the falls that you will see from the bridge. This is the first of five falls on the river. Once you put in below the falls you will have about 20 minutes of flatwater paddling. The current will then pick up and there will be several class I and II rapids for the next several kilometers. These rapids are boulder gardens that can be scouted from the boat. The river will continue to move with a good current after the rapids. You will eventually come to a falls entering on the left side of the river. This falls is a tributary from the Chain of Lakes. There is a gravel bar on the opposite bank of the falls. This is a good place to land and take some pictures of the falls. Take a look around and get familiar with the rapids leading up to the second falls that you have to portage just downstream. This falls is also known the Gate. The portage is on the right just before the small rock outcrop above the first drop. The portage is not too long but involves some bushwhacking and some boulder climbing. The put-in is in fast water so be prepared to line the canoe downstream to safer water. From here downstream there are a series of islands that split the river. The current speeds up as the river wraps around each island. Most of the islands have gravel bars that look like you might be able to camp on, but the gravel for the most part consists of grapefruit size boulders. About 2 hours downstream from the Gate on river left is a good gravel bar to camp on. What is different about this gravel bar is that the gravel is golf ball size as opposed to grapefruit size rocks. The bank above the gravel is sandy with grass growing on it. There is room to pitch several tents on this grassy bank. There is another smaller gravel bar on the opposite bank about 100 meters downstream around the bend. This site more of a sand bank than gravel. You will eventually come to Falls #3. This falls is also known as Tribag Falls as it is near the Tribag Mine Road. The portage for this falls is on river right. Look for the trail on the sand bank just above the lip of the falls. The trail is short and steep towards the end. There is a campsite at the end of the portage. This is also a good spot to start the river when the water is too low to run the upper rapids. You can drive up the Tribag Mine Road and launch here. This campsite gets some use from the ATV crowd. Unfortunately these outdoorsmen tend to litter the site with garbage. I once cleaned up this site carrying out all of the trash and was disappointed to find that just two weeks later when I came back that someone left a pair of socks next to the fire ring and the area was littered with cigarette butts and shotgun casings.

The river from here is an easy uneventful paddle until you approach Batchawana Falls where there will be some class 2 rapids that should be scouted from the right bank. After running this drop, look for the gravel road on river right. Take out on the gravel road before the river turns to the left over a class 2-3 drop and then plunges over the falls. About 250m down the road there will be a short walk down to the gorge. There will not be a well-defined trail, and you will have to step around some large boulders.
About 1 or 2Km downstream you will come to the Falls #5, the final set of falls on the river. There is a good portage trail on river left which is about 280m long. Just after putting in below the falls there will be a short class 2 drop. There will then be two more class 2 drops followed by a class 1 rapids. At the bottom of the class 1 rapids will be a large gravel bar on river right where the river makes a 90 degree turn to the right. This will be a good place to swim and to camp. There are a couple more class one drops just past the campsite. From here to the bridge is a 2 hour paddle.

Post date: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 14:35

Comments: 

just returned from the Batchawana may 3 2008 lots of water and should be good for a while there is still snow in the bush upriver

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00

Comments: 

An alternative to the ACR train access is to drive in on Mile 38 Road from Hwy 17. It is a well-used logging road that goes right up to Batchewana Station. It allows a much earlier start to the trip than riding the train. If you don't want to have to retrieve your vehicle, shuttle drivers can be arranged through Hepditch Market at the river mouth on Hwy 17 (705)882-2272. Driving to the put-in allows you to start your trip without the train schedule.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00

Comments: 

A goup of us paddled a section of the Batchawana this past September and I can't wait to return and explore more. The section we ran was between potage #5 and #7. This area is accessible from the Tribag Mine Rd. and cuts through some beautiful country. The river is lined with towering red pines and is for the most part quite rocky through this section.We camped just below the #6 portage. Because of low water the falls here were limited and the potential danger greatly reduced. Below the camp is a nice 1 hr run that ends just above a series of small drops and rapids. Portage on the right is quite long, but along the road. The set of small drops and rapids can be run by experienced whitewater kayakers. They range from a 2' to about a 6-7' drop, with there being about 6 of these small drops. DEFINITELY take out just below these. The river cuts left thought a narrow canyon and strong rapids and what appeared to be about a 30' falls is just ahead.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00

Comments: 

I have paddled the Batchawana a dozen times - in everything frow spring flood to drought conditions. Some of the rapids get wiped out at high water conditions.
I would make these alterations: 1) the danger zone noted just past the falls tumbling from the Chain of Lakes is called the Gate, a term you'll understand when you see it (It looks like the river slides into a box canyon, then takes an abruprt 90 degree left turn through a cleft in the ridges. The best portaging, by far, is on the left, not right side of the river. Don't go too far before taking out! There's a nasty drop at the end of the Gate.
Also, the three sets of rapids below the last falls can all be run by paddlers with whitewater skills.

It's a fine river that's not difficult as long as you are careful about the five waterfalls along the way.

Post date: Sun, 01/27/2008 - 14:58

Comments: 

Our trip was done on the Victoria Day Weekend, 2007. We used Caribou Expeditions and I was provided with a description of the river from them. We were given the location of campsites by them, however we found them difficult to locate to be honest. The route is only used in the spring and the train conductor on the ACR was telling us more people go down the Sand. The campsites were quite basic, not like those found in provincial parks or well used routes.

We left Toronto on the Thursday before Victoria Day, and Drove up to Sault St. Marie. We stayed at a hotel and left our car in the parking lot and someone from Caribou Expeditions picked up our key from the hotel reception and eventually shuttled our car to the take out. The train left Sault St. Marie around 9 and took about 3 hours to cover the 60 miles to Batchewana (TGV it is not).

We had lunch, portaged around a set near the rail bridge and continued on down. I believe there was another portage further on down the river. We found the remenants of a campsite on a gravel bar about 10km from the rail bridge. On the opposite side of the river at this campsite was a bank that was eroding and we often awoke at night to hear sometimes rather large rocks rolling down the embankment into the river.

The next day we continued and I remember that during this portion of the trip
the river was surrounded by rolling hills. We came to a campsite after portaging around a falls complete with seats carved into a massive log. We thought that there was an even better site further on down the river, but there wasn't. We should have made camp here. However we continued until Batchawana Falls, portage along the logging road on the right and finally made an improvised campsite on the next portage a few kilometers later.

After our unexpected push day, the next morning we literally just drifted down the river until we found a campsite about 5 or 6km from the mouth of the river and spent a lazy afternoon enjoying the rather warm weather.

In the morning we quickly paddled the remaining, meandering section of the river and took out at a Motel on river left, just 100m away from Lake Superior.

The entire trip is done on the river. There are no lakes. We could have done it in 3 days but a 4 day trip is the best pace. The levels were low for us and I imagine that the river takes on quite a different characteristic when they were higher. The locals said there was no spring run-off that year. A lot of paint was left on the Batchawana from my boat, but we didn't have to wade. If the water level was higher I am sure this river would be a real thrill to run. For us, it was rather gentle and not very technical, which was fine we only had one boat and if the river started getting pushy, it would be more reassuring to have at least one other boat.