Sachigo and Severn Rivers from Sachigo Lake to Ft Severn (Hudson Bay)

CanadaOntarioHudson Bay, James Bay north
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Marilyn Sprissler
Trip Date : 
Fri, Aug 01, 2008
Route Author: 
Eli Pivnick
Location Map: 
Additional Route Information
450 km
17 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
2600 m
Longest Portage: 
300 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

 There are flights with Wasaya Air into Sachigo Lake from Sioux Lookout and out from Ft Severn. I took an inflatable canoe (Innova Vagabond) to make the flights cheaper, Wasaya does offer to fly canoes but it is not cheap. There are Northern Stores which sell a reasonable selection of food in the towns at both ends of this trip.

Technical Guide: 

The route is very remote. I saw no one between the first day and the last, and very few signs of humans. The river gradually builds from small (75-100 m wide) to more than 1 km wide. There is current throughout but stronger on the Severn. The land is mostly low, muskeg and in several parts, you may have to camp in swampy terrain. There are some rocky outcrops.
There are many rapids: I counted 87 of Class 2 and 3. These are mainly in the first two thirds before entering the Severn River. In the Severn, there are only two rapids, both long and marked on topographic maps (I worked from 1:250 000 maps), which were Class 2+ at low water levels. It is possible to portage these (more than 1 km each) if necessary. At one place on the Sachigo where the river splits into two branches (from my Map 4 just before the Sherman River joins the Sachigo to my Map 5, about 35 km later), I arbitrarily took the left branch, where there was immediately several km of shallow Class 1+ to 2 rapids. At higher water levels this would be a wild ride but fairly safe.
Many moose and beaver sighted early on, many geese and ducks in the later stages. Possible to see seals and polar bears near the end of the trip, which is why I carried a shotgun as well as bear spray. It is 10 km beyond Ft Severn to Hudson Bay, which can be extremely difficult and dangerous due to increasingly strong currents and then waves once you reach the Bay. It is possible to hire someone to take you out on a quad to the Bay where you have a better chance of seeing polar bears. I was offered a wooden tipi to sleep in in Ft Severn by a Band Councillor because a polar bear had been in town the night before I arrived.

I did this solo in an inflatable canoe. With a faster canoe and two people the time could be significantly reduced.

Even though this was August, the mosquitoes and black flies were bad enough that I wore a bug head net in morning and evening on shore. My dog, who normally does not mind bugs, would stay in the tent almost all the time when camped. In spite of the low water levels, there were many days of rain and I have heard that this summer (2008) was one of the worst for bugs in many years (although the following summer was equally bad).

Canoe Trip, August 2008: Eli Pivnick: Sachigo Lake to Ft Severn Trip

Notes refer to accompanying topographic maps. Blue squares on maps are 10 km x 10 km.

Squares = Camp Sites and are also marked C1, C2, ....

Numbers indicate a rapids or group of rapids or other notable feature as indicated below. Numbers usually start at 1 after a campsite. Some features are given other symbols which are explained below.

Arrows indicate branch taken when river branches.

Map 1

C1. Camp site where there is an ‘Emergency Cabin”.

1,2. Two Class 3 rapids in quick succession. First is narrow and rocky, runnable depending on water level. Second I did not scout. Excellent portage on river right just upstream from start.

3. Class 2 rapids
4. Class 2 rapids
5. Class 1 rapids
6. Class 2 rapids
7. Class 2+/3- rapids

Map 2

C2. Sandy beach less than 1 km east of river mouth.

1. Class 2+ rapids. Right channel OK

About 3 km downstream, river splits and I took the branch on river right. Joined up after 5 km.

C3. About 3 km past Francois Lake; buggy boggy campsite.

1. Double set of Class 2+ rapids. First: run on right thru main V. Watch out for big rock on right side of V. Second: run on left. (More water on right but current into bank on sharp left.)

2. River splits: Ran left channel (less water) and went to left in V. Class 2+

3. Just after branches rejoin. Class 1.
Then a Class 2+. I ran to right for first 100 yards, but a big boat should go to left.
Then main V where river narrows: Class 3-. Good but watch for big rock in middle.

3A. Just after above, river splits at Class 1 rapid. I took right fork which is good. Then after rejoining few hundred meters downstream, river splits. I took right channel which is good. Shortly after is island in river.

4. River turns sharp left while part forks off to right around island.

5. River splits 1 km further on, Each side has rapids. I took left with Class 1. River rejoins 1 km further.

6. Just after rejoin, Class 3-. Big 4 ft waves through narrow passage, although looks good for a bigger boat. There is an 80 m portage (overgrown) on left. Starts just below last very big rock before serious rapids. Ends on flat rocks on runout to rapids.

C4. Great campsite on flat rocks at bottom of portage.

7. 500 m further is a narrowing with a Class 1 rapids. Opens into lake with islands. Look carefully for left channel which I took. After 1 km, three sets of Class 2- spaced about 500 m apart. First one might be difficult for big boat as rocks on left and shallow on right. Best is to left on right side.

8. Class 2+ then Class 1.

9. After left and right bends:
Class 2+. OK but shallow.
Class 2+. Ledge on left; right is shallow but I passed.
Class 1
Class 1
Class 3 with big ledge. Portage just before ledge on right.

Map 3

10. 500 m past above, and all within 800 m:
Class 2- shallow but runnable
Class 3- with ledge: I portaged on left but runnable in big boat down left; below it
Class 2-. Stay left
Class 1.

11. Just past above,
Class 2+, 150 m long
Class 2+, 150 m long: starts by going through a narrow rock gate then a few rocks to avoid.

About 1 km further are high open rocks for good lunch or campsite.

12. Two branches join; right branch enters with a Class 2 rapids. After joining:
Class 2 rapids but can be avoided by going left around island.

13. Long (800 m) Class 2+ rapids with no major obstacles.
14. Outlet of small lake has a series of Class 1+ and 2- rapids.

15. Class 1 rapids where lake begins.

1. Two sets of Class 1+/2- rapids, both good through the V. (First one I took a minor V but the main V looked good too).

C5. Camped just past rapids. Poor campsite.

2. Class 4 rapids with two ledges. Nice 100 m portage on right. Portage starts in clearing just before rapids start. Good campsite.

3. Long Class 1 rapids where two branches meet.

4. Class 1.

Following this, on inside of curve, lots of high rock for camping.

5. River splits. Right fork has more water and is Class 1 rapids.

Map 4.

1. Class 2+ rapids. I ran off to left to avoid big waves
Class 1+ rapids.
Class 3 rapids. Portaged around a ledge on left. Lower part was Class 1+.

C6. Camped just past past rapids. Poor campsite.

2. Class 1+. Take right channel and watch for rocks.

3. Falls, 4-5 ft. Short (80 m) portage in good condition. Starts on left just above falls; should see opening. Ends on flat rocks below falls. Would make a good campsite.

4. Falls, 7 ft, just 500 m below previous. Again a portage on left just above falls. Can start portage over a large area as is flat and open. Excellent campsite. Unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage here. Clearly locals camp here, likely flying in. However, must bring boat as found a wrecked propeller here.

5. Fast water and big standing waves through narrows but no rocks.

6. Lots of current through 3 km of this narrow channel.

7. Three sets of Class 2 rapids each about 500 m apart. Watch for the odd shallow submerged rock in first and third set.
8. Took the westernmost outlet to north, which is a smaller, narrow branch, almost a creek. Could hear big rapids from other branch (to east). Within 100 m is a 2 ft ledge that is runnable depending on water level; or wadeable. NOTE: With a bigger boat, I would take the main branch as there is not enough water on this route.

After that is about 15 smallish rapids including three with ledges, all runnable or wadeable. The last is after 1 km calm water. River meanders a lot so takes a while to get to Sherman River mouth.

9. Grassy knoll and flat rocks on river left, good for lunch and maybe camp. Is 20 m before inlet stream and < 1 km before Sherman River.

C7. Poor campsite.

1. In quick succession:
Class 1.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe in narrow channel on left.
Class 1.
Class 4. 250 m long. I waded on first half down right side. (Very painful to shins!) Then portaged on right through dense bush.

Class 1. Shallow but passable by canoe.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe.
Class 1. Shallow but passable by canoe.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe.

Class 2+. Shallow but passable by canoe on right.
Class 2. Shallow but passable by canoe on left.
Class 2+. Shallow but passable by canoe on right for both parts.

2. 1 km later.
Class 3 and rocky, narrow and twisting for 200 m. I ran it but do not recommend it although the portage would not be easy.

3. 1 km later, and just before and just after a stream joins river in a point:
Class 2+ and rocky.
Class 2 and OK.

Note: In area of 4-7 below, lots of high rocks which make good campsites.

4. Two Class 1 rapids.

5. Class 3 rapids that go over a ledge. A 20 m carry on left gets you past ledge and the rest I ran. However, there is another ledge at the bottom. (Oops!)
Within 1 km, two more Class 2+ rapids.
6. Class 1 rapid followed by a Class 3+ through a short gorge. Could be run. I portaged by climbing over a rock hill on right.

7. About six Class 2 rapids, some quite long, some quite rocky, one after the other. I ran all of them.

Map 5.

8. Class 1 at sharp bend, shallow and rocky. Several more Class 1 rapids in next km.

C8. Poor campsite.

1. Two Class 1 rapids.

2. Class 2+ rocky rapids.

3. Class 2- followed by Class 1 rapids.

4. All in quick succession:
Class 3- rapids.
Class 2+ rapids.
Class 3- rock garden.
Class 2 rapids.
Class 2 rapids.

5. 500 m later, a Class 3 rapids with 2 ledges. Best is left over first then dodge second.

Camp. On quiet water, were old wrecked sleeping bags, tarps and fish nets. A basic fish camp from the previous year.

6. Big falls. Portage on left: overgrown and 300 m.

7. Big falls. Portage on right: trail around falls about 100 m long and in good shape. Ends at beginning of runout.

Nice camping rocks right beyond falls.

8. After a stony beach on river right:
Class 1 rapids.
Class 3 rapids. Ran this off to the right.
Class 1 rapids.
Class 2+ rapids.

9. Class 3- rapids, 300 m long and in big sweeping curve to right. Ran it on left.

C9. Camped just past rapids.

1. Between C9 and next little lake:
Class 2- rapids.
Class 2- rapids.
Class 2- rapids.
Class 2+/3- rapids.
Class 2- rapids.

2. Class 2+/3- rapids followed by a Class 2 rapids.

3. Series of:
Class 2 rapids.
Class 2 rapids.
Class 2 rapids.

Followed by:
Class 2+/3- short rapids.
Class 2+/3- long rapids.

4. Class 4 sweeping to left. Portage is short on inside of curve on left, just before stream. Followed by a long Class 2+/3- rapids.

5. Class 1 rapids followed by sweeping Class 2+.

Map 6.

6. One km long Class 1 rapids, at times shallow and rocky. (I took south channel although north probably similar).

7. One km long Class 2 rapids, very wide.

8. Wide Class 2 rapids.

9. Fast water.

10. Long Class 2 rapids.

11. Long Class 2 rapids.

12. Long Class 1 rapids.

Gravel beach would make an OK campsite. Actually a little before where marked.

1. Shallow rocky riffles both sides of island. Best probably far left.

2. Lynx sighting here.

Before inlet to south, scared a sleeping moose in grasses by shore.

Map 7.

C11. Changed to EDT tonight. Muddy slope for a camp. Triple biting fly threat.

Map 8.

C12. Camp on gumbo slope. Amidst moose tracks and droppings. Fourth night in a row are lots of moose sign.

Cab = trapper’s cabin.

Gb= gravel beaches

C13, Cab = trapper’s cabin. This was at the mouth of the Beaverstone. Beautiful site. I camped on a sand beach just past mouth. Cabin high up on hill. By campsite were large bear tracks. Cabin had boards with nails at door to ward off bears.

Map 9.

C14. On side slope and not comfortable. Just past joining with Severn River. BIG current. Wide shallows just before joining. From here on, not always going where I want to as currents are variable across river.

Map 10.

Between 5 and 3 km south of C15, are extensive Class 2 rapids and shoals, at least in left channel. Many gravel islands as well as some with vegetation down middle.

C15. On gravel bar and quite beautiful.

Map 11.

1. Limestone Rapids. Named for limestone layer exposed as river descends. Class 2+ rapids. Lots of choppy, odd-angled waves of many sizes but no obstacles noted. About 800 m long. I ran close to river right. Lots of fossils below rapids on river right.

Map 12.
C16. In green vegetation, close to shore, not too wet considering. Camped in heavy rain. Other shore was gumbo with rain running off in streams.

1. Limestone outcropping, flat-lying. Many fossils. Outcropping 400 m long by 5 m thick, to below waterline.

2. Island with more limestone outcropping.

3. More limestone outcropping, Class 2 rapids with 2-3 ft waves.

4. Islands and narrows with fast water.

5. Narrows and fast water.

Map 13.

1. Wapakopomistik Rapids. Class 3, about 1 km long plus 500 m runout.Started on river left and moved to middle 3/4 way down. Mostly small ledges to avoid. If portaging, probably shorter on right.

C17. Gravel bar. Beautiful site.

2. Class 2 rapids. Fast water, shoals and moderate to big waves.

Map 14.

C18. Camped in Ft Severn in Tommy Miles’ backyard in wooden teepee.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
I have 14 marked topographic maps which will hopefully be added to this report. These were originally 1:250 000 but I printed them up a bit bigger. Scale can be determined by the blue squares: 10 km x 10 km. Notes above refer to these maps. They are available as jpegs in Photo Gallery section.
Special Comments: 

I have 14 marked topographic maps which will hopefully be added to this report. These were originally 1:250 000 but I printed them up a bit bigger. Scale can be determined by the blue squares: 10 km x 10 km. Notes above refer to these maps.

Photo Gallery
GPS Tracks


Post date: Tue, 04/16/2013 - 17:10


The 14 topo maps Eli is referring to are being added to his route description....but will only be available in 1 or 2 months - they cannot be added to this current form of Routes, but will be displayed in the new version of Routes soon.