Wanapitei River - Killarney Road to Hartley Bay

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Richard Munn
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
33 km
2 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
550 m
Longest Portage: 
250 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

This route would be quite good from an accessibility viewpoint with the exception of the portage around Sturgeon Chutes. This is a portage of moderate difficulty that does some climbing and even has to go up a couple of "steps" in the rock along the trail.

Technical Guide: 

Access to the route is off Hwy 69 about 20 minutes south of Sudbury, Highway 537 (Killarney Road) leaves 69 at this point and heads west.The Wanapitei River intersects with Hwy 537 about 18 km west of Hwy 69. A road to on the east side provides access to the river, but a portage (250 m L) will be required just downstream from the bridge. To skip this set of rapids and the portage, go over the bridge on 537 and turn left on a gravel road just past the river. This road will take you in to the river just below the set of rapids. The description below assumes you will be doing the portage, but it is not necessary.South on the Wanapitei RiverP 250 m L around rapids and small fallsSouth on Wanapitei RiverP 25 m R around fallsSouth on Wanapitei RiverSwifts and shallow sections - some lining may be requiredCamp night one at the halfway point of the routeContinue south on Wanapitei RiverP 75 m R past Bear Chute (first section - CBR / then portage falls)South on Wanapitei RiverP 250 m L around Sturgeon ChutesWest then south into Wanapitei BayEast into Hartley Bay to finish at Marina

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Thanks to David Helsdon for the following comments ...
At the end of October 1998 I paddled the Wanapitei with two novice friends and my dog starting at hwy 637 and ending at Hartley Bay.

Much of this trip traverses uncharacteristically flat terrain with equally flat water, but then turns more shield like at several locations where there are some good rapids. Because the water levels were so low last year, some rapids were passable that might be too dangerous in higher water. I plan to return, possibly in May to find out for sure.

The first waterfall (3.5m) would actually be tempting for a kayak but also comes equipped with an easy portage for canoeists. The last waterfall (just after Sturgeon chutes) is only about 2m and of sufficiently gradual slope to be run successfully solo with an empty canoe, though the approach was difficult to line up without being swept into a powerful eddy. That eddy also provided an easy eddy out if the approach wasn`t looking good - the safe gap through the chute was only about 5 feet wide. The chute spills into a large deep pool so there are no standing waves. the trick was not submerge the bow into the pool by being too far forward . The portage here was pretty easy too.
The Bear Chutes - about 2 km. upstream made a good run of about 300 m.

I happened upon this route from my topo. map (41-1/2) while canoeing the French on my daughter`s annual birthday trip. Though much of the terrain is less than spectacular, I found the trip enjoyable and the rapids worthwhile. There are no official campsites and human presence is limited to some hunt camps, a trappers cabin and a few rustic cottages south of 637. once you reach Wanapitei Bay you`re into more classic shield terrain but also into serious cottage country. From there a couple of hours gets you to the landing at Hartley Bay marina. Here we had one of our vehicles parked for &2.50/day. We had to leave our keys at the Marina in order to park - cottage country security.

David Helsdon
---------------------------------------- I have paddled this route three times- once with a group of guys I paddle with regularly, once with my two sons (ages 9 and 11 at the time) and once with a group of couples we paddle with every year.It is basically a flatwater trip with a few chutes and falls interspersed along its length. All are easily portaged or lined. There was nothing difficult about the trip any of the times I did it. There was little sign of other groups along the route - I never met another canoeing group either time.Richard Munn
Although this trip can be done with only one night of camping, we decided to stretch it into 3 days, 2 nights, so that we could enjoy the paddle, and do some fishing.

We put in at about 9:00am on a Friday morning, and began paddling downstream. This part of the trip is easy, but kind of boring, as the banks are overgrow with trees, and swampy areas.

The further downriver we paddled, the more interesting the landscape became, with more rocky shorelines.

Our first portage turned out to be more of a lift over. As we approached the rapids, the portage looked longer than we felt like attacking. But as we looked to the right, the water actually went around what turned out to be a small island. (it was difficult to see this at first)

We fished the bottom of the lift over, and continued downriver.

We encountered several spots of swift water, but we were in kayaks, and had no problem running them.

Our first campsite was a long, flat rock outcropping at a swift, where we set up tent and did some fishing.

The second day, we encountered the two major portages on our trip.

We left camp early, and paddled for a short while, when we encountered "Bear Chutes." We scouted this set of rapids for quite a while, because we couldn`t decide if we should run the top section or not. They were runnable (especially in kayaks) but the problem was, at the very end of the rapids was the chute, and one error would mean disaster.

Common sense prevailed, and we lined our kayaks down the top part of the rapids, and portaged the chute (on the right)

It was a short paddle before we were at "Sturgeon Chutes", and there was NO question that we were not going to run this one!

We paddled the top part as much as we could, until it twisted to the right, and we eddied out on the left bank.
The portage was not extremely long, but it was kind of uphill, and then back down.

We set up camp here, on the crest of the hill, overlooking the chutes. The view, and sounds were awesome. However, mother nature moved in with thunder and lightning, so we moved our campsite a little further back into the bush in a little clearing.

The next day was a easy, but long enough paddle towards Hartley Bay. The river was very serpentine, and easy enough to follow, until we got closer to Hartley bay. We also saw other boats and people for the first time on our trip. As we got closer, the river became more populated.

We reached Hartley Bay Marina, and took our kayaks out there. I was somewhat surprised when we were told the charge for landing there was $6/kayak! I informed them I only had $10 on me, and they took my money....

We truly enjoyed this trip, and plan to do it again, maybe with more people, as it is fairly easy. However, we were glad that we made it a two night trip, as we were able to relax, and fish, and enjoy the scenery.

Norm Udeschini

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 I/2 Delamere
Other Maps: 
Sudbury 41 I/SE (Prov. Series)
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