Conestogo River - Glen Allen to Hawkesville

Submitter & Author Information
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Trip Date : 
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Additional Route Information
16 km
1 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Put-in at Glen Allen is fairly accessible, though the take out at Hawkesville may not be as easy (steeper bank at the road bridge)

Technical Guide: 

Put in at the park in Glen Allen
Paddle downstream to Hawkesville

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

On April 26, 2003, Matt, Hil and I paddled part of the Conestogo River. I put the canoe on the car, and headed to Matt's place for 10:30 am. He was out picking up Hil when I got there, so I started to untie the canoe from my car so we could put it on his trailer. Before I got it totally undone, Matt and Hil showed up. We then tied both canoes onto the trailer and were ready to go. We checked the map again to figure out where we were going, and were on our way. We drove to Hawkesville in just over an hour, and left my car by the side of the river. There's a quiet gravel road there, and it's a reasonably safe place to park without worries.

We drove Matt's car and the trailer to Glen Allen, and found that there was a park right beside the river. There's a nice parking lot there, so we parked the trailer there and unloaded the canoes. The GRCA water flow monitoring station is right beside the bridge, and it has it's own little walkway up to it. I went up to take a look, but there's not much too see. ccording to the GRCA, the flow level at Glen Allen was about 3.75 m3/s. We found that this was quite adequate, and I think the river could be run when the level is even below this, although it would involve a little bit of "bump and grind." We didn't have too many problems with the water level, although there were a few spots where it was impossible to avoid scraping the bottom. Matt christened his newly re-finished canoe by scraping off some of the new gelcoat, and I just added a few more scratches to my well-worn yellow beauty.

Matt and Hil paddled together in Matt's canoe, while I soloed mine. Soon after we left the park in Glen Allen, we came across what looks like a Boy Scouts camp or something similar along the shore on river right. There were picnic tables, archery and a climbing wall. Shortly after leaving Glen Allen we also came across a concrete road crossing the river. I forget if it was before or after the Scout Camp, but it's close to the start of the trip either way. Keep an eye out for it. The roadwas below the water, but not by very much. It appears that the farmers just use it to drive their tractors over, and I'm sure it's well out of the water in the summer. As it was though, it was about 20-30 cm below the water, and would have been a pretty nasty scrape if we hadn't have seen it and carried around. There's a little bit of the drop on the far side, so watch out if you paddle it! I'm sure in higher water it would be a fun ride, but not at this level.

The rest of the river was pretty uneventful, and the only problems we had were a few shallow spots which we scraped across. Matt had to get out a wade a few times, and I did once or twice too. This area is prime Mennonite country, and the river passes through lots of Mennonite farms. We saw a lot of horse-drawn farm equipment out in the fields. There was a manure spreader, seeder, some sort of disc or cultivator, and lots of wagons and buggies out and about. At one point in the river we passed two Mennonite children who were fishing. They had their horse and buggy tied up under a tree, and they had a small fire going by the river bank. We also saw more fishermen on some of the road bridges, and also below the large abandoneded railway bridge abutments.

When we got to the end of our trip in Hawkesville, we left the canoes under the road bridge, hoping that no-one would steal them. We then got in my car and drove back to Glen Allen to get Matt's car and the trailer. We then drove back to Hawkesville, retrieved the canoes from under the bridge and tied them on the trailer. The paddle took us about 3 hours in total, if I remember correctly. We drove back to Woodstock, and tied my canoe back onto my car. We said goodbye, and I left for home. I would rate this as an excellent trip. Since the river is dam controlled, I think there will be more water in it than in the Nith for the summer months. This means that this section may be doable all year! Keep an eye on the flow levels on the GRCA page to see!

Darren, Matt, Hil

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
40 P/10 Conestogo
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
40P Kitchener
Special Comments: 

The river water contains a lot of run-off from farm fields, so I don't advise drinking the water, even if you filter or purify. It's much easier to take your own water on a trip like this.

Water levels can change drastically in the spring, so be careful! Be prepared for any possible conditions and don't push your skill level.

The river is dam controlled, just upstream of Glen Allen, so water level may change at any time if the GRCA opens or closes the dam. Be aware of this possibility.


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


Did this section of the Conestoga on June 2/06, two days after a heavy rain storm. Water flows were around 11 cm/s (per the Grand River Conservation Authority) making it a fairly quick trip - a little over two hours. There were plenty of swifts and even a few approaching class I. I was with two of my daughters (ages 5 & 3), so I was essentially paddling solo. Canoer's must watch out for fences across the river put up by local farmers. One of these has a gate you can go through (with a little difficulty). Saw several great blue herons, mallards, and hawks, as well as cattle and sheep from the nearby farms. A pleasant trip to do with young children.