Nith River

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18 km
1 days
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0 m
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0 m
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Not applicable
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See trip diary below

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

On Friday, March 29, 2002, Mike, Matt and I decided we wanted to check out the mighty Nith River. In fact, it was mostly me who decided and no one else seemed to complain. :) I look at the river every time I drive over it near Phillipsburg, and had always wanted to paddle it. So this weekend I decided to do something about it.

The plan was to be on the water at around 10, but for some reason I was up at 6:30am (and those of you who know me know just how odd that is...) I put my canoe onto the car and was at Mike`s place at 8:40 am. Mike couldn`t find the keys to his van, so I left him to find them and took off for Matt`s place. I got to Matt`s at around 9 (it may have been a little bit earlier) and we loaded his paddles and stuff into my car. Mike showed up shortly (turns out his dad had his van keys, so he had to find the spare set) so we loaded Matt`s canoe onto the van and we were ready to go. It was grey and cool while we were packing up, so we hoped that the weather would get better.

We drove to where the Nith crosses Township Road 12 (the first road South of Plattsville) (UTM 531200E, 4793250N [Based on NAD 83, Zone 17N]) and decided it looked like a good enough place to put in. Since we were doing a shuttle though, we kept driving straight on Township Road 12 to our take out spot (UTM 540990E, 4795410N). There, we parked the car on the side of the road, took the canoe off of the top and tied it with the other canoe on top of Mike`s van (yay for huge vans!). We threw all of our stuff into the van, turned around, and drove to our put in.

As we were getting the canoes off the van and our gear organized, we saw two other canoes come around the corner upstream of the road. They we going very slowly and we thought that they might be hunting ducks. We put in at 10:15, which was 15 minutes behind schedule - but hey - it`s a long weekend who cares! I was going to paddle solo for the first while, and we planned on switching up later. I had the new Nashwaak Paddles "Solo Strap" which I hadn`t had a chance to try yet, so was happy to be trying it out. The water was plenty deep to paddle in almost all areas of the river, and with the exception of one spot where I purposely went throught the shallow channel, I never got hung up anywhere. Matt and Mike got stuck only once I think, although they did scrape bottom more than the lighter solo boat, and had to choose their course more carefully.

Since this was my first time on the Nith (and first for Matt and Mike too) we had no clue what to expect, other than what I was told on the Canadian Canoe Routes forums. It turned out that it was a fanastic little river to paddle in the spring! I`m not sure why it`s not more popular, but I suppose that`s because it`s too dry in the summer. Anyway, the river goes through some open areas with fields on both sides (mostly cow pasture, but some corn fields) and then through some lightly wooded areas of mostly hardwoods. Further down towards the end of our little trip there was a swampier section which had cedar along the banks for a ways. The river bottom was often silty and soft, but sometimes had small rocks and gravel. The rapids in the section we paddled were class one if you stretched it - I`d just call them swifts (at this water level anyway). We came across one ledge which we paddled, but scraped bottom. It would likely be tough on the boat if the water was any lower than it was when we did it.

For wildlife, we saw tons of ducks (Mallards and some other kind we didn`t know with lots of white on the back of their wings), geese and killdeer. Final count of muskrat came out to 3 I think, but it may have been 4, I forget. Lots of red-wing blackbirds also. As for people, the only paddlers were the two canoes we saw when we put in (who we passed almost immediately). We also say a father and two kids skipping rocks, but that`s it. There are a few houses and camps visible from the river but most of the time it`s not too bad. We crossed under 3 road bridges and one other bridge which must be some kind of a trail (looks interesting... may have to check it out some day...) Because there are so many bridges, it`s easy to make the trip as long or as short as you want. The banks at the bridges are often steep and muddy, but still doable. Since most of the roads are quiet, I don`t see a problem with just parking on the shoulder (which is all we did).

The Grand River Conservation Authority has an excellent website which provides real time river conditions. The river flow at the time of this trip was approximately 6m3/s, while the average summer low flow is 2.6m3 /s. I had been told that the best time to paddle the river was when the flow is between 4 and 6 times the summer low flow. Obviously it was lower than that when we did it, so at least for this stretch those numbers are high. There was evidence of much higher water levels, since the banks showed water lines at least 2 feet above what we had! There was also lots of weedy junk in the branches at least a couple feet above water. I wouldn`t want to mess with the river when it was that high for sure!

We stopped at one of the bridges and Matt got in my boat solo, and I paddled bow with Mike in the sterm of Matt`s boat. At some points Matt had a little bit of fun in the current, and he managed to execute an excellent cross draw to save himself from ramming into the bank :) The weather had improved slowly during the day so it was quite pleasant at times, with the sun coming out from behind the clouds occasionally. This was good, as the forecast had been crappy for the entire weekend. I just love it when the forecast is wrong :) According to the University of Waterloo Weather Station, the high for the day got up to 10.49oC - but I could have sworn it was 10.50oC!

In the slower moving swampy section just upstream of our takeout point, we found a duck decoy which had been tangled in some trees on the side of the river. Matt cut it off and it`s now at my place. It may someday end up on the fence post or something :) At around 2 o`clock we found ourselves back at the bridge where we`d parked the car, and climbed throught the mud again. Mike and I hopped in my car to retrieve the van while Matt carried the stuff up to the side of the road. When we returned with both vehicles, we tied a canoe on each and loaded up our stuff. At this time we were all pretty hungry, so we headed off to Wendy`s for a good meal. After that, we dropped off Matt and all his stuff and went home.

Overall, it was an excellent trip, and a fantastic way to start a new paddling season! Darren Cope

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
40 P/7 Stratford 40 P/8 Cambridge
Special Comments: 

Water levels change dramatically in the spring - be careful! Don`t trust what anyone tells you (including me!) and make up your own mind based on your ability.


Post date: Sun, 07/27/2008 - 20:35


Did a run from Township #2 road bridge south of Canning to bean park in Paris 3 days after the record breaking rain in KW. Took 2 hours at 15m3/s. Even at that level, a few hidden rocks managed to dent the canoe. Great run, especially the last few kms into Paris. Township #2 Bridge is a fair putin. Used a bike for the shuttle, that took an hour. Only regrets are next time I think about using Paris taxi for the shuttle and I wish I went when it was 20m3/s. I'll be watching the gauge for a sequel.

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


June 14 2004. Made a day trip from Canning to Paris,then to Brant Conservation Area.It took us about 6 hours. The flow rate for the Nith was 6/3m which was far too low.If we do it again in the future it must have flow rate of at least 7/3m.The river is very scenic with lots of waterfowl.Riverbanks are 100 ft. in soom spots.

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


Just completed a day trip on the Nith from Canningto Paris. Three hours with a flow rate of about 7m3/sec. A good run but I wouldn't want to do it with any less water. This was just enough. We did scrape bottom a few times but were never hung up. Nice section coming into Paris. I'm eager to do it again with more water.

Post date: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 20:45


Have run Plattsville to Richview (second bridge above Canning) at 5.5 cms and this was just fine, as I think it could be run with as little as 4 without much of a problem.

Ran Richview to Paris with 11 cms first week of October 08 and found it also ideal flow wise. Most interesting section is from first bridge upstream of Canning. Rapids coming into Paris could likely be run with as little as 8. Toughest part of these class 2+ rapids (3-4 in higher flows) is a straight central section which is tough to scout as trails do not approach the high river bank in many places. We had an easy success in running on river right, with bit of a hole at bottom end. Taking out at Bean Park about 2km downstream on the Grand is the thing to do.

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


The section from Canning to Paris is the best for whitewater paddlers, the rest is rather boring. Nice for early spring, later on it is too shallow especially the section from Ayr on down.

Post date: Wed, 04/16/2008 - 18:05

Comments: is the site to check the river levels. Click "river data" and then Nith River. You'd want to try to get it when it's above 12, which tends to be just April May, and occasionally September.