Serpent and Berens River

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
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Additional Route Information
170 km
7 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
4200 m
Longest Portage: 
600 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Put in requires a 1.5 hour drive on a very rough gravel road. Take out is better but still a 1 hour drive on gravel

Technical Guide: 

80 km north of Ear falls on south bay mine road
Put in on Shabumeni River
Paddle upstream Shabumeni River
Portage 60m right
Portage 500m left
Paddle across lake 411 and Bay of Shabu Lake
Portage 600m into Lake north east of Shabu Lake
Paddle doown Serpent River
Portage 50m left before Guest Lake
Paddle across Guest
Lift over
Portage 100m left
Paddle into Ruggles Lake and down Serpent River
Portage 75m left or run class 2 tech
Lift over ledge
Paddle north into small narrow lake
Line, run, or wade 100m, class 1
Paddle east on small lake
Line, liftover and run tail of class 3 rapids, 300m
4 class 1 rapids in next 1km of river
Portage 30m right around falls into next small lake
Paddle into next lake
Swifts conecting next 2 small lakes
Portage 100m right, class 2
Class 1 tech, line or run
Paddle across lake where you switch maps
Class 3 at end of lake, run first 100m then portage left
Paddle across small lake
Run or line class 1 tech
Portage right 100m, class 2
Portage left 75m, run to top of falls
Run or line class 1
Paddle 3km
Class 3, run top, liftover ledge at bottem river right
Portage right 75m, 12' drop
Portage right 100m, 10 drop
Paddle across Wavell Lake to the north/west corner
Paddle north on Serpent River
Portage left 100m, senic falls
Paddle small lake
Portage left 75m or run class 2
5 small class 1 rapids in next 4km of river after Berens joins from the east
Paddle across 373 lake
Portage Eagle rapids 50m right or run class 2
Paddle across Southwest Lake, Upper Goose Lake, and Mamakwash Lake 21 km
Portage Mamakwash Falls 100m right, or run? (class 4)
Portage Woman Falls right 100m, Very senic
Paddle across Goose Lake 9km
Portage left 150m around Whitedog Falls or run? (class 4)
Next 24 km of river and Nechigona Lake Lake is featureless and boring with overgrown banks and lots of moose and beavers, wind tends to funnel down river and can be a real problem
Silcox lake only decent camping in this section
First rapids after Silcox portage 50m on island or run river left, class 2
Portage left 50m or run class 2 rapids
Portage right 100m or run class 3 rapids (a very nice play spot at top ledge)
3 class 1 rapids at C in river halfway to Child Falls
Pictographs on cliff on north side of river 1km upstream of Child Falls
Portage 40m left at Child Falls
Portage 150m right at Otter falls or run (class 3)
Class 1 rapids and a river gauging station after the intersection with the Throat river
Portage 300m right at Mikaiami Falls, very senic especially in high h20
Either take out at end of Nungessor road (at first sharp bend in River) or continue on to Berens Lake and the Berens lake landing 18km farther south
The take out at the first sharp bend after Mikaiami falls is brushy and rough and not for nice vehicles

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
52 N/10 52 N/7 52 N/15 52 N/14 52 N/13 52 N/12
Special Comments: 

This is my favorite trip in the whole Red Lake district. The Serpent river is a perfect combination of lakes, rivers and rapids. In high h2o the Serpent and the lower Berens is a whitewater maniacs dream wilderness trip. The Serpent is highly technical while the Berens is volumous. The fishing is fantastic below many of the rapids. The only lodges on the route are at The big lakes on the Berens and Shabu Lake. The Serpent is pristine, unlogged, and untouched wilderness and portages are little used and maintained other then my groups. The top 25 km of Serpent burned about 25 years ago so camp site are hard to come by. The lower Serpent has tons of class A sites. The fishing is fantastic. There is absolutely no sign of human use on the Serpent in the last 20-30 years other then the occasional portage. Wildlife abounds and I have seen moose and carribou on every trip. The mid section of the Berens is a bit ho-hum with lodges on the big lakes. But sports some beautful falls and rapids. The lower Berens after Silcox lake is a whitewater canoeists delight. Unfortunately after Child Falls There is a lot of trash on the river from the native community to the east. All in all a fantastic trip that I, who am easily bored with the same old same old, have yet to get tired of. I am always hesitant to share "my" trips with people, but I am even more scared of this route being ruined by future logging because of lack of use. The many must run rapids and difficulty of access will however keep all but true purists out. This trip is not for novices due to the many rapids. Many of the falls are run right up to the top carried around and then run below the falls. Also many of the Rapids on the Serpent have lift overs and right in the middle of class 2 rapids. This is not a beginers trip, but anyone in exellent physical shape and with lots of river canoe triping experience will enoy it.


Post date: Thu, 04/29/2010 - 11:45


Here's a video report on this route.
It is in four parts, for the fourth select the revised segment.

Post date: Sun, 01/24/2010 - 21:17


What is the best time of summer to go to be able to run the most rapids?
Any fires since your last trip? Thank you for your time. Kion

Post date: Wed, 07/16/2008 - 00:32


I posted the info on this route and am happy to answer questions.