Dog River

CanadaOntarioLake Superior basin
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37 km
3 days
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See the detailed trip notes below.

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Dog (University) River
April, 10-14, 1998
Compiled by Peter Labor & Chris Morris

The Dog River tumbles 650 feet in 37 km, from our put in at the old bridge crossing on the Paint Lake Road, to its mouth on Lake Superior, below spectacular Denison Falls, 25km west of the Michipicoten River (Wawa). In this stretch there are more than 60
marked rapids, ranging from continuous (several km) stretches of CI/II rapids to linked CIII/IV & V high volume cataracts. There are also 7 waterfalls, including the spectacular 40m Denison Falls, near the river mouth.

The river is completely isolated from roads or development below our put-in, except for two hydro line crossings in the River`s upper reaches. After completing the River trip, a 25km paddle on Lake Superior is required to reach the nearest road at Indian Beach, in Michipicoten First Nation (about 20minutes from Wawa). Topography is rugged and spectacular, as the river drops through the rocky Canadian Shield, destined for the water.

Because of the isolated, difficult and rugged nature of the River, paddlers considering a trip on the Dog should very seriously evaluate their skills, fitness, equipment, group selection and personal preparation before heading out.

The Dog is a true whitewater river, requiring careful judgement and cautious decision making. Highly skilled paddlers have found themselves stranded along its rocky shores
without a boat, while others trudge endlessly through thick brush looking for a portage that doesn`t exist, in spite of the CIV/V rapids they are trying to avoid. The river is best
suited to highly skilled groups of whitewater paddlers with sound judgement and good equipment. Competent and experienced canoeists who are comfortable paddling CIII
rapids and lining or carrying unmarked larger whitewater may also find the Dog a challenging and rewarding trip. For most canoe trippers seeking a scenic and rejuvenating Canadian wilderness experience, the Dog is not it.

Trip Summary
The following trip summary from a trip taken by Peter Labor and Chris Morris during high water in early Spring, 1998. Due to a mild winter and low snow pack, the river came open unseasonably early, so we jumped at the opportunity to experience it in Spring flow. River levels normally run high from mid-May to early June, but fluctuate very quickly due to rapid drainage in the area, and release of water from snow and ice packed banks, lakes and streams. We figure water levels for the trip described below were similar to normal high water in late May. There was evidence of higher levels prior to our arrival,
and the deposit of driftwood on some islands and banks indicated a significantly higher level during early flood, or in previous years.

{The additional notes are provided by Andy Baxter and Doug Ryan from a Dog River trip during May 3rd through May 9th 1998.}

Environmental Conditions
Considering our early start, our weather was outstanding, with temperatures soaring to 12c on three days of our rip. There was a light breeze blowing up the river on Saturday and Sunday, and we were wind bound on Superior on Monday, with strong SE winds and 6-8` swells. Nights were cold (well below freezing), and our paddle home on Tuesday found us in continual rain, with a heavy fog forcing us to use map and compass for our
final paddle into Indian Beach. {We had excellent weather. It only rained once, between 3 and 10 am, on Tuesday morning. Temperatures daily reached between 18-24c. Some nights were cooler as temperatures dipped down to between 3-10, with a heavy frost on one morning.}

There was still up to 2 feet of snow in sheltered bush areas, especially in the canyons. All the south facing open rocky areas were clear and dry, providing nice lunch and camp spots.
{Snow was still evident in some of the sheltered areas, but had progressed in melting. At one location the footprints of the previous travelers were still evident.}

River Conditions
We figure the river was in moderate to high flow, with ice-out likely 1 week - 10 days prior to our departure. The low snow load and mild winter created an even melt, so there was little evidence of excessive flooding or ice damage, although on the lower stretches of river we saw large ice blocks sitting on shore and ice damage on overhanging cedars.

{We encountered good water levels, which we estimated at being in the medium or moderate level. We did not feel the river to be too pushy, but at the same time, not too low. Some ice blocks were still sitting on shore.}

The water as very cold (obviously), but free from obstructions (except 2 sweepers mentioned in the text below). Waterfalls were in full flow, creating heavy turbulence at the bottom and narrow pull-outs at the top. Large chutes ran with high volume, creating
several dangerous holes (keepers) and large standing waves in many areas. Shallow stretches at the top and bottom of the river were easily paddled, ranging from swift current over low gravel/sand bottom, to continuous CI/II rapids through mixed boulders. We never had to leave the canoe to wade through shallows although I expect this would be required over long stretches in low water.{The water was cool to cold, but not the stinging cold that you experience in very early spring stages of run-off. Only once did the river become shallow enough to force us to scrape over some rocks and I (Andy) waded for a few feet. This was lower down, just before Dennison falls, where the river fans out and divides into several channels.}

Portages are relatively clear where they exist, and can usually be detected by a slight indentation in the bank, or cut stumps. Rarely we saw tree blazing, and saw no evidence of flagging tape, signs or any other artificial markers. Most take-outs are located as close to the brink of falls and rapids as one can safely land, so good landing and leaping technique is pre-requisite. Portages range in difficulty, but were generally extremely rugged, and maintained only by the footsteps of paddlers looking for an alternative route around impassable falls. It appeared that several difficult stretches could be carried along the rocks adjacent to the rapids, but due to high water and often snowy banks, this was
seldom possible for us. {We found similar portaging conditions. If the rapid was of significance or questionable runability, there was usually a portage trail around it. Although the portage trails are relatively clear, they are very rugged and care and cooperation where needed to safely `run the portages`.}

Equipment Considerations
To run the majority of whitewater on this trip (in high water), one would need full whitewater outfitting, including flotation and/or covered decks. Safety equipment is essential, and should include; long floating painters, towlines, throwbags, helmets,
wet/dry suits, spare paddles, bailers/sponges, first aid supplies and perhaps an ELT, PLB or EPIRB in case a boat is lost en route.

We paddled an ABS Swift Dumoine, outfitted with bow and stern flotation, 70` lining painters and kevlar skid plates. Our gear, included a large watertight plastic barrel pack, nylon canoe pack, wooden wannigan, two spare paddles and a waterproof map case
attached to the bow plate. All gear was tightly tied into the canoe using quick-release knots, ensuring that even if the whole thing got tumbled in a hole, the gear would stay in place, and the extra flotation would help salvage the canoe. {We also paddled ABS canoes. An Old Town H2Pro which is 13`8" and a 16` Nova Craft
Prospector. Long painters and skid plates were also part of our canoe gear. We had 2 watertight plastic barrel packs, 1 nylon pack and 1 PVC large volume dry pack(which never seem to perform 100%). Our gear was also lashed into our canoes using quick release fastex buckles and straps.}


To complete the trip, take 1:50,000 topographic series maps:
{42C/6 - Pokei Lake - If starting from Obatanga Provincial Park.}
42C/3 - Mishibishu Lake
41N/14 - Dog Harbour
41N/15 - Michipicoten Harbour
Trip Log

The following documents our 3-day trip down the Dog. It should be noted that map references are not exact, water levels change everything, and THIS IS NOT DESIGNED TO BE A TRIP GUIDE. Please use the following information with good judgement when
planning your own trip.

{The following documents our 5 day trip down the Dog. We started via the Obatanga Provincial Park road which runs from Hwy 17, in an westward direction to the Dog River, just below Obatanga Lake. The road starts on the west side of Hwy 17, almost directly across the road from the main park entrance which is on the east side.

Starting at this point, put us 20km upstream of Peter & Chris`s 3 day trip. We also took 2 days to complete the last section of the river to the mouth, whereas Peter & Chris did this in 1 day. Perhaps we were not as `tough` as our fore-travelers, but I think we had planned more days for our trip, and wanted to have lots of time to complete and enjoy the Denison Falls area of the river. }

Accompanying the written description is a plotting sheet indicating the general location of features, and distances.. Individual rapids are indicated by description, and may or may
not correspond to rapids shown on the topographic map. Because of the high number of rapids, I have identified 17 "Sections" of rapids, which range from one or two sets, to as
many as 5 rapids and falls in close proximity. These "Sections" are lettered from "A" to "U". Some are described in writing, while others are accompanied by a close-view sketch map.

Abbreviations used:
RL - River Left (looking downstream)
RR - River Right (Looking downstream)
TO - Take Out
P350m - Portage - through the bush, with the distance in metres
CO45m - Carry-over along rocks adjacent to the river with distance in metres
Swifts - fast water creating some surface turbulence
CI - clear rapids of low volume requiring little maneuvering
CII - runnable rapids with low/moderate volume, requiring careful maneuvering and
possibly scouting from shore
CIII - moderate /high volume rapids with
F20m - Falls, with an approximate height in metres
{MW - Medium Water Level}

Sunday May 3 - Day 1
We were dropped off by Naturally Superior Adventures at the end of the Obatanga Park road. On the drive in, we carefully eyed some questionable water holes in the road, but found a firm bottom on all of them. We stopped once to clear some new debris on the road where a Beaver had decided to expand his dam. The suckers were spawning in the rapid at the put in, and we watched them scurry as we did a couple of practice ferries. Turning downstream, we entered Knife lake. A head wind greeted us, which was blowing out of the northeast. There is a campsite on the island we passed just before we turned in a southwesterly direction. There are some beaches on the north part of the
western shore that look like they may have some enjoyable family campsites. The ridge of hills encroaching on the outlet of Knife lake signaled the beginning of some beautiful topography that the Dog would work its way through. The swift at the outlet of Knife lake is followed by a Class I rapid which is marked on the topo maps. The river widens and turns southwest again as Crayfish creek joins from the east. 1.5km further the river
constricts through a rock opening. This Class II+ rapid has a large whirlpool eddy on RL and much of the force of the current is driven onto a rock at the end of the chute. We ran this on RR, with a quick eddy turn and bailed some waves that wanted to accompany us. You could carry over the rocks on RR, or line from RR at this set as well.
A 100metres downstream the river turned sharply to the left and broke through a rock ledge primarily on RR, but also at a small spill-over on RL. RR was a class III+ drop mainly because of the turbulent water at the bottom, coupled with the fact that after a
very short pool, a twisty CII rapid carries on from this point. We carried over the rock ledge on RL and put in below the first drop. The rest of the river between here and Heart Lake turns left and right a few times. Grab some inside corner eddies and watch for
sweepers. Just before entering Heart lake, the river forks into 2 channels. Sweepers blocked the left channel, so we hugged the inside corner channel on RR into Heart lake. Curiously, a white under belly of a fish caught my eye on this last channel before the lake. Doug had a better look as he passed and said the fish was impaled on a stick. I guess fish can blow a rapid sometimes also.

Heart lake was very beautiful with many rocky hills on both sides of the lake. A possible campsite could be had on a high open rock area on the right. There are also campsites on the islands where the lake narrows in 2 places. The southern island campsite is larger. Finally, there is a combo hunt-camp/campsite on the left shore of this lake. The river strains through some small islands at the end of this lake just as you change maps from
42C/6 to 42C/3.

The very last part of Heart lake is seen on the top of 42C/3. Just below this there is a swift were the river slips past a spit of land jutting in on RL. After a wide pool, the river narrows to an enjoyable CI rapid above an `S` turn.

Just after the `S` turn there is a bouncy CII+ with a couple of good waves at the top and some rocks to avoid midway down and also at the bottom where the river fans out to the left. We ran this rapid just right of centre. Watch for rocks.

Over the next 3.5 kms there are some swifts. The river pinches at a point about 500metres upstream of the Paint Lake road crossing. There is a 1.5` ledge here which spans the entire width of the river. It may be possible to run this, by punching through
the hole below the ledge, or perhaps by running on extreme RL, and punching the side wave of the hole. Doug carried the 2metres of the rocks on RR, and I lined on RL. Be careful if you choose to run this, it looks like one of those spots that can be easily underestimated.

There is a CI rapid under the bridge. There is potential here for future sweepers due to the fact that the cedars along the river bank have been cut down. In high water, they could be carried downstream, perhaps jamming under the bridge. It can be understood for vehicular safety reasons, why these trees have been cut down, but leaving them laying at the waters edge is a problem waiting to happen. I will be writing to the MNR to
request these trees be removed to a safe location.

The next rapid is about 2.5km down on a straight stretch of the river between the swamp marked on RR and the little bay on RR. This rapid is a straightforward CI.

Another 1.5kms brings you to another CI rapid, just below the elbow in the river.

A final 1.5km brought us to the old bridge crossing, and our campsite for the evening. The water level was 1.3 to 1.5m below the top of the first bridge pier.

(Friday, April 10 - Day 1
We were dropped off by Naturally Superior Adventures at the second bridge along Paint Lake Road. In actuality there is no longer a bridge here, but the large piers in the middle of the river may it hard to miss. There is an excellent put-in on the downstream side of the old bridge, with ample room for camping and parking well off the Paint Lake road. The Road is used for hauling trees, and also as an access to Eagle River Gold Mine, so it is generally very well maintained, and in fine condition for nay worthy canoeing vehicle. It is also possible to put in 4km upstream where the first bridge crosses the Dog, or above Knife Lake by driving in through Obatanga Provincial Park.

By 9:30am we were loaded and ready to go, and bid farewell to our driver, after the necessary pre-trip photo. The water was approximately 1m below the top of the first bridge pier, and flowed with noticeable velocity, creating a small eddy at our put in. The first 5 km of river flows through low vegetated banks, over a sandy and even bottom. The sun slowly warmed things up, with a morning temperature around 4c.
{Monday May 4th, Day 2. We started our day on the river at 10:15am}

At about 3.5km, we encountered our 1st rapid - a shallow 200m CII run on a pinched bend in the river. After scouting along RL we got our first taste of the river, with a clean run left of centre. About 1km further along, there is a set of swifts within sight of a high rock face on RR. From here, the river bottom becomes more graveled, and rock outcrops appear at various points.

There are several swifts between here and the s-rapids above the power line crossing. We
reached the top of this short CII drop at 11:00am, and stopped next to an exposed rock on
RL for a bagel break and leg stretch. The old access road is here also, and would make a
decent campsite if required. This s-rapid starts with a tricky drop under an overhanging
log, and a couple maneuvers around exposed boulders at the bottom corner, and is easily
scouted from shore on RL.

{The above rapid is not as tricky in the reduced volume of MW.}

The power line crosses at 8km from our put in, with the current steadily increasing along
this section. About 3/4km downstream there is a fine looking bush camp/cabin on RR
next to a long straight stretch of river next to a beautiful cliff on RL. After 1 km, there is a
CII rapid {CIII in MW} in a sharp left turn in the river. A small creek flows in from RR.
Scouting revealed a very dangerous sweeper across the lower drop on this rapid, but there
is an easy 30m carry-over on RL. We realised that with the snow still in the bush, our
best way to "portage" was to carry our first two packs across, and slide the canoe through
the trees - a skill that we would perfect in the days to come.

This section of river is divided at the top by a large island. The right channel was too
swift and shallow to run, so we ran the left channel on RR {tight stick-handling between
trees & rocks} into a pool above {a series of islands which strains the river via 1 main
channel on RL plush 4 other channels. We portaged through the islands to another pool.
>From here, the river was divided by} three more channels split by two islands covered in
cedar to the water`s edge. We did not explore the left 2 channels very closely, and chose
the easy carry over the rocks on RR at a scenic waterfall on the far right. There is a nice
campsite here. At the bottom of the falls we soaked in the heat from the afternoon sun
(1:00pm), and contemplated donning our wetsuits, before pushing off.

Just downstream we ran a CII drop through the centre, with another CII rapid {CII+ in
MW} on either side of a small island about 1/2km further along - we ran the right hand

At about 2:00pm we reached a very scenic 5m waterfall at the top of a section of rapids.
A 150m portage on RR brought us back to the river. The falls are followed by a section of
CII/III standing waves, {we ran the wave section in MW} which can be run or lined,
above a small pool..

A narrow, canyon-like stretch of CIII drops lies immediately below the pool, which we
lined on RR. We guessed that this section could probably be portaged at the top of the hill
on RR, but didn`t really check it out. {Very tricky lining in MW. We took the good
portage trail on RR.}

A couple hundred metres downstream, the river constricts again, at a short CII/III ledge
on either side of a large rock. The long winter with no paddle in hand made itself evident
here, as a moment of indecision found our stern catching on the rock as the bow dropped
into a small hole below the rock on RL. With no way to straighten the stern, the nose
dropped underwater, ceremoniously providing our first swim of the year (and only one of
the trip). Without our wetsuits on, the water was VERY cold, and it took several minutes
to bring the upset canoe (with all gear safely tied inside) to the RR shoreline. We quickly
bailed most of the water, and floated a couple hundred metres downstream to find a flat
rocky outcrop about 5m above the river on RR. The emergency fire starters came in
handy, and within 10 minutes we were drying gear and warming fingers with site of the
ledge that gave us our christening. With another rapid just downstream, and our gear
laying all over the rocks, we decided to call it a day, and set up camp at 4:00pm.
{We scouted from RL, then ran this CII rapid in MW, just RL of the rock in the centre.}

Here there are high granite cliffs on either side of the river, with lots of spruce and cedars
growing from the rock. I started to get the sense of paddling into an unmistakable
wilderness with only one way out - downstream. The sun set in a clear sky, and the cold
night and heavy frost reminded us that this was still April in Northern Ontario.

Day 2 - Saturday, April 11

After a late breakfast (waiting for the frost to clear and the sun to peek above the hills), we found ourselves loaded and paddling by 10:20am. Anticipating lots of whitewater ahead, and wiser after our swim form the day before, we were fully decked out in
wetsuits and Capilene.

The first rapid, only a few hundred metres from our campsite, was a boulder strewn CII, with a nasty CIII wave/ledge at the bottom. The early hour convinced us to carry-over on RL, before running a series of swifts along RL. {Still nasty in MW. We carried on RL.}

We portaged this 200m boulder strewn rapid on RR, avoiding a series of tricky drops and nasty ledges. {The statement `tricky drops and nasty ledges` is certainly an understatement in MW. We portaged on RR.}

After 3/4km of swift current, this rapid consists of two long islands, with rapids on both sides. We paddled past the first island, taking the right channel, past two large boulders,
landing in the small pool between the islands. There appear to be a portage over the island, as well as a decent campsite. The second island has a long CIII rapid in the left channel which looked runnable in kayaks or covered canoes. The right channel had several "wet-drops", so we chose the 200m carry down the centre of the island. {Same in MW.} The small island downstream from here has a steep (1m) drop on either side, with
a nice campsite and portage on the centre. {We found the portage just right of centre, and camped here for the night.

Tuesday May 5th, Day 3. We started our day on the river at 10:30am

The next morning we scouted the rapids that formed on either side of our island campsite. It appears that the RR channel could be run in 1 spot, but we chose the RL channel which carried more water and offered a more straight forward run if you ran it just right of centre to avoid the trees on extreme RL and the rocks on RR. Also be conscious of the rocks to be avoided that split the haystacks at the tail of this rapid.}

A few hundred metres along, the river narrows to a long CII/III rapid with fairly continuous standing waves and a low shoreline. We ran the length of this section along RR using a strong back ferry, and came through dry and exhilarated. {CII in MW, a good

This long rapid begins with steep CIII/IV chutes on either side of a small island. There is a clear portage on RR, where we carried to a small bay below the top chutes. From here there is a series of CIII standing waves in a little "canyon", which can be run or lined from RR. There is also a clear portage above the high rock on RR. {The top part of this section above the CIII/IV chutes spooked me, as the current gently picks you up, then starts to accelerate you towards the chutes and the large boulder that
divides them. Without having a good visible eddy to aim for, I chose to turn around and scout for a take-out that I may have missed. I found a take-out on the rocks on RR, from the pool below `F`, and before the river narrows on the approach to `F`. The portage trail was a little sparse, but still discernable. From here we did confirm a lower take out, close to the brink of `F`, however it was small, and had a log obstruction, so we felt we had made a good decision. We also put in at the small bay below the top chutes and ran the tail of the upper chutes, and then the `canyon`. CII+ in MW.}

Just downstream, a second power line cuts across the river, reaching to a high cliff on RR. We stopped here on RL for lunch next to a winter campsite, above the next rapids.
Exploring the bush here it looks as if there may be a path around the rapids on RL, but with the deep snow it was hard to tell. {This paragraph confused me somewhat. I wasn`t
sure if there was an additional rapid between `G` & `H`, but that was not the case. The `next rapids` that you speak of must have been `H`. We did not explore RL for a portage, but the safest landing certainly seemed to be across on RR. }

These rapids start with a steep CIV/V chute, so we landed on RR above the rapids, and carried up a steep cliff through the bush (on an obvious portage trail), putting in below the first drop, and running a couple CI/II rapids into a wide pool. There appears to be a nice campsite on RR near a small stream. We found an old rain jacket stuck in some reeds here.
{Same in MW. Cooperation certainly helps overcome the cliff section at the beginning of this portage.}

Around the corner there are two CII/III drops, steep enough to take in a large lap of water in an open canoe. We lined the first on RR, and waded the second next to the shore on RL. The 2nd of these was runnable, except for a very sharp submerged rock/log in the middle that looked like it could do some real damage. Just below this rapid, we found the remains (bow section), of an old fibreglass Wolverine canoe that had met its match.{We ran the 1st drop CII through a narrow V in the centre of the river, just right of a reddish rock. The 2nd drop CII was ran safely on RL. Avoiding the nasty stuff is on RR.}

The next 2 km provided nice paddling with a section of CI/II rapids followed by three islands and a CII rapid above a long stretch of relatively quiet water. We saw several ducks along this stretch, with a lovely view of the Feather River tumbling (lots of water) in at RR, and Stares Creek dropping over shelves of rock on RL. We didn`t notice any good camping along this still stretch, but appreciated the chance to sit in the canoe for a
few minutes. {Same in MW.}

This large island splits the river into two CIII rapids. The left channel is a continuous run with large standing waves, and a few tricky boulders at the bottom. The right channel begins with a steep ledge, followed by some easy CII chutes. We carried over the right channel ledge (on the island) and stopped on some exposed rocks next to the rapids for an afternoon coffee break (3:37pm).
{We also carried over the right channel via the island and ran the small CII chutes below. We scouted the left channel and were tempted to try it. CIII. However, we concluded that it was too risky at the bottom as the river turns left & strains through several cranky rocks, especially since you may have some water on board by then from the larger waves upstream.}

A kilometre of still water leads to the top of a steep CIV rapid, with a takeout and portage on RR through a nice campsite. We put in below the first drop, and paddled to a second CIV rapid where it is possible to portage, line and carry over the rocks on RR. {Same in MW.}

At 5:00pm we arrived at one of the most scenic spots on the river, where a large waterfall tumbles over a series of ledges, with a long ramp of exposed rock on RL. We portaged across the open rock on RL to the base of the falls. Same in MW. Beautiful. There is a campsite in a rocky area on RL after the Falls and before the end of the next 2 rapids.}

Beyond these falls are a two CII rapids which we lined, and a short CIII rapid which we lined at the top and ran the bottom.
{Ran all rapids below the falls in MW. CII}

A pear shaped island splits the river, with the majority of water carrying down a CII/III rapid in the left channel. We took the longer channel on RR, which starts with a few CI swifts with good eddies, and a clear run out on RR at the bottom. {In MW, CI or CII. We had to line the last part where the channels merge.} A second drop CII+ is runnable on RR, although there is a strong current against the low rock face. {We ran this CII drop in MW. The rock face was not a problem at this lower volume level.}

A few small swifts {barely noticeable in MW} lead to a 3m falls with a good takeout on the rocks at RR. There is a fairly strong current at the top of these falls, and a very big souse hole just right of a rock in the centre of the top. These lovely falls might be a tempting run for whitewater paddlers, but the hole looks like a killer at these water levels. There is a clear portage on RR through the bush, and it is also possible to carry over the rocks on RR.
{Can`t carry over the rocks in MW. Yes a portage is on RR. There may be another one on RL, but did not check it out.}

Prior to arriving at these falls we had decided to camp at the next nice spot, and to our amazement found the best campsite of the trip at the bottom of portage. There are two cleared tent sites, and a large flat rock reaching out into the river below the falls with
great exposure for the morning sun and a nice calm pool for swimming or fishing.
{We also camped at this spot. There is a survey line cut through the bush starting on RR and heading in a south or southwesterly direction. There is something like "Dave`s line" spray painted on the rocks here.}

* The river has become much more agreeable since the cliff portage at the second power lines. We are now running 1/2 - 2/3 of the rapids and making much better headway than this morning. We are noticing lots of ducks and beaver sign, and still seeing many high rocky cliffs with lots of cedar and spruce. So far, large islands and rocks near falls and large rapids seem to offer the best camping opportunities. I took a few waves in the chest
today, but we had no problems in any rapids we chose to run. This would be a very tedious river for those not prepared to run CII/III rapids and capable of scouting near dangerous water for portages and carries. There is very little that I would describe as "flat water", and even these areas have appreciable current.

The snow in the bush is up to 2` deep, making it dangerous to portage the canoe, but possible to drag it over the uneven ground in most areas. Portages are difficult, but so far none have exceeded 400m in length, and we have found them quite evident in most necessary spots. Takeouts are usually located as close to the top of a rapids or falls as one can paddle, with many requiring careful maneuvering and a nimble bow paddler with painter in hand. We have used the full 70` length of our lines on several occasions. A properly outfitted canoe with well sealed and secured packs is a necessity.

The weather stayed clear through the night, again dropping well below zero, with an even heavier morning frost.

Day 3 - April 12, 1998 (Easter Sunday)

After warming in the morning sun, and enjoying a hearty breakfast, we climbed back into our paddling clothes and set off at 10:02 am for another day of adventure. The topographic map was daunting (lots of little lines across the river), and our goal was to reach the mouth by early evening. Weather was clear and cool, but by lunch the temperature was up to 12c.

{Wednesday May 6th, Day 4. We started our day on the river at 11:00am}

{Portaged it all}


{Same in MW.}

{Same in MW.}


{Yes, there is a portage on RL, which we used.}

{We tried to find the portage on RL, but were not successful. If it does exist, it must go up very high, before descending again to the river.

After portaging the falls, we ferried to RR. From here we portaged/bushwhacked along RR past the next 2 drops. I wouldn`t call this an established portage, however we were
not the first to pass this way. We then lined the next drop on RR, then ferried to RL. Then we lined the next 2 drops on RL into the pool above the last falls. We portaged the last falls on RL.

The river slows somewhat as it swings left and then right immediately before the next section. We found a campsite here on RR just upstream from the first rapid of `S`. We found a mining claim post here at this campsite.}

Thursday May 7th, Day 5. We started our day on the river at 11:00am


Ran first 2 CI/CII rapids. Then portaged the top falls on RR. Put in then lined the next drop on RR. The next drop, we portaged over the rocks on RR. Then we ran down some sneak routes on RR to the last eddy before the last drop. From this eddy we portaged over the rocks on RR into the pool below.


Ran it. CII


Good run in MW. CII+

The river became shallow and we scraped over some rocks at the point where the river divides up into several channels shortly before Dennison Falls.

Dennison Falls

We used ropes and a pulley to assist lowering the canoes on the first steep decent to the base of the first part of Dennison Falls.

After climbing the whales back, we found 3 trails heading left into the bush, all of which make a jump up a 3 to 4 foot rock face. The first trail is to a campsite. The 2nd and 3rd trails are both portage trails and reconnect within 30m, shortly before the `otterslide`. We felt the 3rd trail was easiest as it avoided some low windfalls. When the trail forks again, the left branch indeed leads to a steep dead end at a sheer embankment.

The way we approached the `otterslide` was to carry our 4 packs down the slope and also stash them in the trees on either side of the path. Next we set the first canoe up at the brink of the slide. We then rigged a pulley system from the trees at the top and used this to lower the first canoe down to the vertical part of the drop. At this point Doug and I decided to use our emergency whistles attached to our PFD`s as to signal each other, since we could not see each other once Doug climbed down to the stream below. 1 blast meant stop. 2 meant go. 3 blasts meant the load was released and the rope could be raised for the next load.

Doug climbed down the vertical part of the otterslide and waited knee deep in the stream. I followed Doug`s signal and lowered his canoe over the drop slowly. I had incorporated 2 braking trees and the pulley at the top so the weight of the load was easily handled. Doug let out 1 blast and I stopped lowering. 3 more blasts told me to raise the rope for my canoe.

At this point, I took another rope down to the lip of the vertical and lowered both of Doug`s packs to him. I followed this with my 2 packs, which Doug safely stowed across the creek on the rocks. I then climbed the hill again for the last item which was my
canoe. I wondered if it may jam on something on the way down, since Doug was not there this time to coax it to the teetering point at the vertical.

I resolved to lower my canoe at a good pace, not too slow to avoid jamming on something, and not too fast to be out of control. I set up at the top and let my canoe go, while holding the rope firmly. It jammed on the first lip just 5 feet below me, which I
hadn`t anticipated. I released some rope and scrambled down the hill to the stern of my canoe. With one swift kick to my canoe`s backside it was over the edge and I was scrambling back up the hill trying to reel in the slack that I had let out.

My canoe was halfway down the slope and moving at a good clip when I got the slack tightened, but I didn`t want to stop the canoe, for it would be more likely to jam on something, so I kept the rope playing out at a good pace. Poor Doug must have been
alarmed by the rapid decent of my canoe. He wisely decided to `move to a safer location` whilst letting out a single blast on his whistle.

At the same time, I pulled in the reins on the crazed careening canoe and stopped it perfectly on the teetering point of the vertical. On Doug`s signal, the canoe was safely lowered to the creek below. I collected the ropes and pulley and climbed down the hill for the last time.

The eddy below the falls was whirlpooling and filled with floating wood debris. We waded past the whirlpool and turbulent water below the falls. We jumped in our canoes at the first eddy, then ferried to RR and ran past the large hole on RL through a V on
extreme RR, while cautiously avoiding a tree that was jutting in from the right shore.

A bald eagle was fishing the lower part of the river, and for good reason, as the suckers were very thick in the river spawning. The river was very eager to complete the last few kilometres to Lake Superior, and we enjoyed it`s pace to the river mouth. The lake waves were very restrained and we paddled past the long gravel bar and through the opening into the lake as the sun was starting to lower towards the treetops behind the hills.

We camped where the gravel bar joined the rocks, which was maybe 1km east of the river mouth. We had tacos for supper and stayed up late enjoying the clear Superior night around the campfire.

Friday May 8th, Day 6. We started our day on the water just after 10:00am

We were late in getting on the water the next day and consequently had to wrestle with the heightened wind and waves that accompany the middle of the days. We battled a
head wind from the northeast which at times blew us further from shore. The waves rose to between 1 & 2 metres, so we decided to take refuge on a beach, after battling for 3 hours and only making 4.5kms. Besides, our comfort level with these winds, waves and
water temperatures had been reached. We spent the afternoon exploring the beach, rock collecting, napping and baking. We cooked and ate supper on the beach, then pushed off again at 8:00pm since the lake had subsided enough to do a few more kms. We covered another 5.5 kms and pulled up on a beach at 9:45, just as the last light of the day was being replaced by the moonlight.

Saturday May 9th, Day 7. We started our day on the water at 6:00am

I set my alarm for 5:00am, and had a sleep that was punctuated with wakeful sessions every time a gust of wind seemed to blow.

The moon was setting over the lake in an deep orange glow, as we packed up and got ready to go. The colour of the moon made me wonder if the smoke from forest fires somewhere were tinting the air. Later I found out that Alberta was on fire.

We breakfasted on gorp, and hit the water at 6:00am. The wind was still from the northeast, but was not too strong yet. We stopped for a rest twice. Once at Minnekona point and again at Dor‚ Point.

We stormed the beach at Michipicoten First Nation at 8:30am. I walked through town looking for the community centre, and attracted every loose dog. I didn`t like it when I was being circled by 3 at the same time, but they all finally backed off. I finally found the community centre at the end of the road the heads off to the left as you enter the village from the beach. Of course, it is closed on weekends. So I knocked on the door of a house.

A loud `Come in` greeted me, so in I proceeded and asked permission to use the phone. After explaining who I was, and that I wanted to call Naturally Superior Adventures in Michipicoten Harbour, my host graciously agreed.

Thanking my host, I returned to the beach where Doug was busy readying our equipment. We had barely completed bringing our gear up to the road from the beach, when our truck was delivered to us, by the friendly and helpful folks at Naturally Superior Adventures.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
42 C/3 Mishibishu Lake 41 N/14 Dog Harbour 41 N/15 Michipicoten Harbour
Special Comments: 

The Dog River is a river for advanced paddlers only. It is isolated, rugged and requires a high degree technical whitewater and wilderness tripping skills. As Peter Labor says in his description below "For most canoe trippers, seeking a scenic and rejuvenating Canadian wilderness experience, the Dog is not it."


Post date: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 00:05


My father and I canoed this river back in the early 1970's. Our gear included an aluminum canoe with a small outboard motor lashed in the bottom (made the trip across Lake Superior from the mouth to civilization much easier! I was around 14 at the time so I don't remember much. We went in June and the river was low. I remember wading the canoe over rocks, and lots of portages. Near the end when the channel finally deepened I grumbled when Dad wanted to check out the terrain ahead (he had the map.) That was Dennison Falls. While shooting photos of the falls my dad slipped into the river. He wasn't hurt but most of the photos from that trip were ruined. We camped at the mouth for at least 2 days waiting for the big Lake to calm. We finally left pre-dawn and made it to "civilization" by noon. It was the last trip I took with my dad (after several consecutive fishing and canoeing trips beginning in 1968 to the areas around Knife, Obatanga, University, and McMaster Lakes. The trip down what at the time was called University River was easily the most memorable.

Post date: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:15


The Dog River is exceptional but as with all rivers the journey is dependent on your skills, fitness experience and gear. I have paddled down the Dog River in 7 days in my cedar canvas canoe and once paddled down it in 6 hours in my playboat. The summer of 08 was wet so I managed to get down in high warm water in 1.5 days in August. The paddle out along Lake Superior is just as spectacular and if you are travelling as far as you do to paddle the Dog River, spend the time to paddle out. It will be worth it and remember, if you are heading east back to Michipicoten Bay, just keep the land on your left and you'll find your way back. By the way, the road opposite Obatango Provincial Park to access the river is no longer maintained so impassable by vehicles. Use Hammer Lake or the Paint Lake Road to access the river.

Post date: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 21:32


I agree with overall description of the Dog River, with the following exceptions.

As an expert only river, it is managable in open canoe, with portaging often the greater challange. Need 5-6 days, to allow yourself to scout, run, or portage without undo pressure.

It was the only river that I was glad at the end of the trip, even though I enjoyed it greatly. (Run end of May, at near spring level, meaning the eddies had fully grown trees growing in them.

Post date: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 14:59


I have done this trip a few times in a kayak.It is an awsome river just packed with white water. We usually only carry 5 rapids before denison, but most of these are runable V's, just you are literally in the middle of nowhere.
We usually do it in two days and have paddled out and had the boat pick us up. I personally like the paddle out long as its not too windy, and if you have a small group the pick up is 400$ so its a little pricey.
The portage around denision falls in a real treat and not for the fient of heart.
I have heard of a group doing the river in one day then being picked up by boat.....i think they were in unloaded boats and slept at the put in.


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


On May 26 to 30th ten of us from Markdale (ont) went down the DOG. It cannot be done in 3 days.(we tried) It took us 4 full days. In canoes the sheer volume of water was the big problem. We would make the run only to overturn when we would eddy out(too much water in canoe). We even would sometimes carry our gear down then ride the empty canoe, the outcome would mostly be the same. The portages are the most difficult you will ever do and they only get harder as the trip goes on. this is where the mental toughness really kicks in. There are lots of times you could crack under the stress, the group must be strong. The rapids are second to none (a real treat). This trip is a "must do" if you love white water. Our group ranged in age from 35 to 56. Ten guys five canoes. At the end we took a ferry ride ($400.00) back to our outfitter, i would recomend this, the river takes so much out of you. GOOD LUCK--RICK
PS(I would not have missed it for the world)