Matinenda-Blind River Route

CanadaOntarioNorth Channel
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Location Map: 
Additional Route Information
41 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
1347 m
Longest Portage: 
427 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start at south end of Matinenda - public parking and boat access
(road access from Blind River via 557)
North then west through Matinenda
West on a small section of the Blind River
P 92 m L around dam (steep and slippery)or lift over dam on right
West on Blind River into Chiblow Lake
West on Chiblow Lake
Camp night one on Chiblow Lake
West then south on Chiblow Lake
P 427 m R around hydroelectric dam and penstock - rough portage. Simpler to take road on left side
South on Blind River into High Lake
P 270 m R around rapids, small lake and falls (or split portage and paddle pond)
Easier to split portage - short liftover/line, paddle pond, then P60m around falls
Southeast through High Lake
Southeast through Canoe Lake
P 218 m R around old Hydro generating site
Southeast through Cataract Lake
Camp night two at Cataract Falls
P 240 m L around Cataract Falls - ATV trail
Southeast on Blind River
South on Lake Duborne
South on Blind River
Finish at town of Blind River on Hwy 17

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This summary is based on a three-day trip paddled in mid-August 1995 by a group of six couples. Although the MNR route description gives the route a two-day duration. We felt that three days were required to give us adequate time for sightseeing along the way.

To avoid a long drive on Friday morning (our planned start day), we drove up to Blind River on Thursday night. The access point for the trip is at the end of Hwy 557, which runs north from the town of Blind River on Hwy 17. The road was in good condition, and the trip from Blind River to Lake Matinenda took about twenty minutes. The parking lot was full when we arrived. Camping facilities at the parking area do not exist, so we camped at the Log Chateau, a lodge on Lake Matinenda. Facilities at this lodge are basic - a grass field, a single fire pit and an outhouse.

Day One (Friday)
We were on the water by 9:30 am. We followed the west shore of Matinenda as we travelled north. There were a lot of cottages in the first 3 km of the route, but they became less common as we travelled further north on the lake. At the 8 km point of the route, we left Matinenda and entered the mouth of the Blind River. This section of the river is narrow, winding and very scenic.

Although it is not shown on the topo maps, there is a dam across the Blind River halfway between Matinenda and Chiblow. This is the first portage of the trip. The portage is about 250 m long, and goes around the right side of the dam. It is a well-groomed uphill climb for the first half, but it becomes narrow, steep and increasingly rocky as it descends towards the river. Although it was dry when we portaged, it was obvious to us that the trail would be slippery and treacherous if wet. After portaging the first canoe along the awkward trail, we decided to carry the gear across and lift the canoes directly over the dam. By paddling over the log boom and staying to the right (away from the sluice on river left) we brought the canoes straight to the dam. The top of the concrete dam is wide enough to stand on, and we simply had to pass down the canoes from the day to the dry, rocky shoreline about 6 ft. below us. The "river" below the dam is shallow and rocky, but is was a simple bump and grind down to the end of the portage trail. At this point we reloaded the packs and carried on down the river.

A short while later, we reached Chiblow Lake. There was a gravelly beach on the south side of the lake just after we entered it that was a great lunch and swimming spot. Although it wouldn`t be ideal, this spot could hold two or three tents.

We paddled across the first bay of Chiblow and camped on one of the islands just east of Fox Point, the 12 km point of the trip. The largest island (closest to the point) has a cottage on it. The site we used was on the island farthest away from the point. It is a beautiful location - soft, level ground with a mix of red pine and white pine above. The island appears to be well-used. There is little underbrush left, and there is no firewood on the island. It is still a great site, with convenient trees to hang a rain tarp and a number of good rock points for swimming and relaxing. We were set up by 2:00 pm.

The site was strewn with garbage when we arrived, left by a previous fishing party. After burning all of the paper garbage and beer cases, we were still forced out to pack out over a full garbage bag of trash and a couple of broken lawn chairs.

Day Two (Saturday)
We broke camp at 9:15 am and headed southwest on Chiblow towards High Lake. Although the water was quite calm, it was not difficult to imagine what conditions would be like in a stiff west wind. Chiblow is a huge lake, and the resulting waves would be difficult to paddle in.

A dam that feeds a power plant blocks the exit from Chiblow. A steel penstock (8 ft. dia. pipe) runs from the dam through the old river channel and ends at a power plant about 500 m away. It looks like it would be possible to cross the dam and portage down the road on the left side of the channel, but there is a steel gate blocking the road about halfway down. The actual portage is on the right side of the channel, and is marked along its path. It is rocky in some sections, and swampy and muddy in others. Although it is shown in the route description as 427 m, it seemed much longer. We did not pace it off to check the actual length.

A short section of river heads south from the dam and empties into High Lake. Skirting the west shore of High Lake, we arrived at the small chute emptying out of thelake. It is a short cascade with a ledge in the middle - definitely not runnable. There is a 50 m portage on the left side (easy) which goes over the bare rock and bypasses the chute. Rather than portage, we lined the canoes down the first porton of the chute and lifted them over the small ledge on the right side. We were then able to paddle out of the swift at the bottom into a small pond.

This pond is only about 100 m across, and on the opposite side is the fourth portage. This trail bypasses a slopingfalls, one of the nices sights of the trip. The trail is only 46 m long, and fairly clear. It climbs for the first third, then drops down to canoe lake. There is a fair amount of clay, and it would probably be quite slippery when wet. There is a small campsite at the top of the hill that would probably hold two or three tents, but it wasn`t great. The flat rock at the bottom of the falls is a wonderful swimming and lunch spot. We took some time to sit in the falls and cool off.

The route continues southeast on Canoe Lake until portage No. 5 at White Falls. The portage begins at the end of Canoe Lake just past some buildings (an auto wrecker). It has a sign marking the start and is to the right of the dam. The trail is a gradual downhill travel over flat, clear bedrock and gravel paths. It crosses a narrow road at the end. There is an artesian well just to the left side as you arrive at the road which runs continually with freezing cold water. A great opportunity to refill the water jugs.

The route continues east on Cataract Lake. Cataract is shallow and weedy along the shoreline with a lot of deadheads. Camping spots are nonexistent. We paddled to the east end of the lake to Cataract Falls. A narrow channel leads out of the lake toward the falls. There was one section of swift current, but the channel for the most part was slow-moving. We paddled down untill we were close to the lip of the falls then pulled out on the left side. Caution should be exercised if water levels are high - the falls has about a twenty foot drop.

The left side of the river is flat or gently sloping bedrock. We camped at this location. Setup was complete by 5:00 pm. Some members of the group camped right on the bedrock at the shoreline, and others took the side trails into the bush and camped in the grassy areas adjacent to the river. There is a rough trail from this location leading down to Hwy 557 that looks like it is used by four-wheel drive vehicles.

The falls is spectacular - a narrow chute which eventually turns a right angle and spills over a large surface of sloped bedrock before it flushes out of a narrow, rocky channel.

Day Three (Sunday)
We broke camp at 9:00 am and began the day with the portage past Cascade Falls in a steady downpour. The portage is 340 m long and follows the four-wheel drive trail along the river to a point close to Hwy 557. The end of the trail is an area of flat rock at the edge of the river very close to the highway bridge.

The section of the Blind River immediately following Cascade Falls is not very pretty - narrow and weedy, with a few dilapidated looking shacks and cottages. Just past the 30 km point of the route, the river empties into Lake Duborne. A short 2 km skirt of the west shore od Duborne brought us into the final section of the Blind River. The next 3 or 4 km was heavily populated, bringing us past homes and cottages, but the river gradually widened and became less-populated. the final couple of hours before the town of Blind River was through a wide, slow-moving section of the river with water lilies and weeds, with many huge white pine stumps protruding from the flooded landscape.

The trip ended just past the concrete highway bridge at the town of Blind River. We were out of the water by noon on Sunday. There is a boat launching ramp on the west side of the river with an open grassy area and road access for unloading canoes.

Richard Munn
September 1996

Trip Log - August 2006

Our paddling group (five couples this year) was looking for a relaxed way to spend four days, and decided to revisit this route eleven years after we'd first paddled it.

Day One - Thu Aug 10
On the road from Sudbury at 7:30 am, and arrived in Blind River an hour and a half later. Grey skies and rain, but the weather network promised sunshine by late morning. Sure enough, by the time we had shuttle vehicles up to the put in at the south end of Matinenda, the skies were blue. Unfortunately, a brisk north wind had also come up.

On the water at 10:45 am, fighting for every metre of progress up the lake. Strong winds and 12" to 18" swells - at least no whitecaps. We stopped for a brief rest half way up the lake, then another stop for lunch at a rocky point just before swinging west on the lake. Chatted with the property owner, who wandered over from his place. He claimed that more paddlers used to do this route, but sees few of them any more.

Another 45 minutes of battling headwinds, but as we turned towards the westCothe lake narrowed, the winds abated somewhat. By the time we were approaching the mouth of the Blind River, we even had a bit of a tailwind.

Quiet, calm and scenic on the short section of the Blind River. We arrived at the control dam, and after a quick look decided once again to paddle up to the dam and lift over rather than using the longer portage on the right. A bit rocky just downstream of the dam - you have to be careful not to twist an ankle.

Paddled another short stretch of the river, and we arrived at Chiblow. The winds had thankfully died down a bit.

We paddled over to the island campsite where we had stayed before, and were encouraged because it looked vacant. As we got closer, however we noticed a single tent set up on the site - occupied by a couple of fishermen who were on the lake. We turned north and began to explore the north shore of the lake, checking out some promising looking points and clearings.

We found a site quickly, although it wasn't exactly five star. The site was covered with thick moss and lichens, and the old firepit was full of tall grass. Obviously, the site hadn't been used in a while. It was getting on in the afternoon, so we decided to call it home.

Once we'd cleaned the place up a bit and set everything up, we decided that it was actually pretty good. A path led off to the east and came out on a nice smooth rock "beach" with good swimming.

Put up the tents, had a swim (warm water) then supper and an evening campfire.

Day Two - Thu Aug 11

Lazy layover day, spend swimming, reading and preparing leisurely, relaxed meals. Perfect weather.

Day Three - Thu Aug 12

On the water about 8:45 am to begin our paddle south towards Cataract Falls, our planned campsite. Blue skies with not a cloud in sight once more.

Paddled across Chiblow and arrived at the power dam. The takeout is on the right side. Gave some thought to taking the portage on the right, but the trail that we found quickly worked its way out to the edge of a dangerous looking embankment. We decided to carry across the dam, up the stairs and along the road on that side. The road leads to the powerhouse, and there's an easy put in just beyond that building.

South on a small section of the river, and into High Lake. Just into High Lake, a set of rapids separated bya small pond heads off to the right. Apparently there's a portage on the right side that bypasses the entire rapid/pond/rapid set, but it's simpler to split it up.

At the first small rapid, there's a portage on the left side, but it was simpler to just line / drag the boats down the right side of the chute. From that spot, it's a short paddle across the pond to the portage on the left side of the small falls that drops down into the lake. This portage is a quick climb up, the a steep drop down to a flat rock shoreline.

As with our last trip, we stopped for lunch and a quick "whirlpool" in the falls. Great swimming at the base of the falls, too.

A couple of hours of straightforward paddling rough High Lake and Canoe Lake brought us to our last portage of the day - the hydroelectric dam leading into Cataract Lake. The portage is a simple one - over bare rock and a gravel road. There's a grassy put-in just across the road.

Another short paddle and we arrived at Cataract Falls. There's a long, gently sloping rock shoreline on the left (north) side of the river just upstream of the falls. We camped there, just as we had on our previous trip.

Day Four - Thu Aug 13

It was nice to wake up to clear blue skies rather than the steady rain that we had dealt with in 1995. Made the paddle out a whole lot nicer.

This part of the trip is ok, but not spectacular. It certainly gets much busier, particularly as you get close to the town of Blind River. Still, there are some nice, quiet sections of river.

We were out of the water just after lunch, and headed over to a local restaurant for a traditional after-trip cheeseburger and fries lunch.

Richard Munn
August 2006

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 J/7 Elliot Lake 41 J/6 Iron Bridge 41 J/2 Algoma
Other Maps: 
Provincial Series Maps (1:100,000 scale) 41 J/SE Blind River 41 J/SW Thessalon
Special Comments: 

Matinenda and Chiblow are very large lakes, so pray for a calm first day. Exercise caution and stay close to shore - a wind can cause large waves in a hurry.

The falls just before High Lake are very scenic, as are Cataract Falls. Take a few minutes to sit in the water at the base of the falls for a great "shower"

There is an artesian well beside the road at the end of the 218 m portage before Cataract Lake. It just looks like a pipe sticking out of the ground, but it`s a good spot to fill the water bottles ... ice cold!

Photo Gallery
GPS Tracks
Download GPS track: 


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


I just finished canoeing Canoe Lake up to High Falls. It was spectacular with the fall colors. A very beautiful area! I plan to return for the whole route next summer.