Georgian Bay

Planning a multiday kayak trip for next summer and my resources offer many alternatives for accesses and routes. Any opinions on which are “the best?”

define best
motorboat avoidance?

Cottage avoidance?

Permit avoidance?

Your best resource is I doubt more than a handful of people here have paddled Georgian Bay.

I have eight times but not all of it. Ergo I cannot say what is “best”.

It’s All Good
Killarney, French River, Byng Inlet…lots of options. Search the archives and Google. You will find a lot.

Great link, thanks
Priority in criteria would go to scenery. I have searched trip reports online, but not much ccomparative commentary. The group is experienced in open water crossings, so not much in the way of limitations.

I know best Kilarney to
Pickerel River. I dont much like writing trip reports.

Here is one down by Parry Sound

If you paddle between Pickerel and the Old Voyageur Channel of French River technically you need a park permit as its part of French River Provincial Park.

Also try Philip Edward Island north to Killarney.

Maps are avaiable from both areas with campsites indicated.

Its pretty spectacular scenery. I was out a week in Aug and saw three people.

Stay off the Key River. Its a motorboat parade.

Thanks to all
We ( do a number of expeditions and it’s always a case a casting the net wide for info and sorting it out. We paddled the Apostle Islands this summer and have the fever for the Great Lakes.

you said multiday
does that mean three or thirty?

You will be hard pressed to do the French River Delta in less than four days and thats a race out and back

I took a week and that included a day when paddling was not possible due to twenty foot seas. Plan a wind day if you visit the Bustards.

Most people allow for a week to thirty days to explore the coast. You can get a pretty good taste in a week.

Bruce Peninsula
I’ve spent some time in the Georgian Bay. We did about 70 miles over 5 days from Lion’s Head, Ontario to Tobermory, Ontario along the east coast of the Bruce Peninsula. Some of the sites are reservable by permit, some are not. Amazing scenery, cool platform camp sites and not many people for miles.

We also did the Mink and McCoy Island chain along the eastern side of the bay near Parry Sound. the chain sits about 5 miles off shore. Launched from Snug Harbor, paddled north past Franklin Island and then along the island chain north to south. We completed the loop by staying on Franklin Island our last night before heading back to Snug Harbor. Camping in the island chain is open crown land. No permits, no fee’s.

email me for more info.


Crown Land Camping does have fee

– Last Updated: Sep-15-10 1:20 PM EST –

for Americans. And sometimes people selling them are darn hard to find.

I went to Service Ontario center in Sturgeon Falls for a Chiniguichi Crown Land Permit and was told to drive back to North Bay as they hadnt gotten any. Aargh.

Just dont be tempted by the above post that mentions free. Its not if you are not a Canadian citizen.

I read the below link and am shaking my head. Always tie your boat at at least two points. I bring mine way out of the water..a hundred feet or so and stash behind some trees. And tie off bow and stern. There is nothing like putting all the tension at one pull off handles or sent a boat pinwheeling.

I had some wild weather on Georgian Bay/French River area this year. GB is very low and those sneak inside passages are solid land or at least not connected by water..Ergo I was forced into the Bay proper.

All of a sudden those two Bustard Island Lighthouses were in front of me. I was still a little northeast of them but so close I went out and had a gander.

trip report
Here’s a trip report from someone who has been there a couple of times:

crown land permits
Non-resident crown permits are required for areas north of the French River, but the Mink and McCoys are south of French River and therefore don’t require the permits.

Yes, it’s very difficult to find them when you need them. They do not sell them on line or over the phone and good luck finding a Service Ontario center that sells them. I’m not sure what they expect a person to do. We were lucky that Killarney Outfitters purchased them for us and mailed them to us ahead of time for camping in the Phillip Edward Island area.

thats true
I am just not used to tripping so far south in Ontario except in Provincial Parks.

Bustard Islands
I did a trip from Byng Inlet to the Bustard Islands a couple of years ago. I don’t know if it was the “best”, but it was a fun route with great scenery. The lighthouses on Bustard Rock are pretty cool.

Trip Report:

Another Bustard Island Trip Report
We launched from the Key River.

Upper French River
It’s not quite Georgian Bay, but the Upper French River just below Lake Nipising (northern Ontario) but above the dams has fantastic camping and excellent sea kayaking. There is very little boat traffic, the scenery is great, and there’s lots of exploring to do.

Upper French River
It’s not quite Georgian Bay, but the Upper French River just below Lake Nipising (northern Ontario) but above the dams has fantastic camping and excellent sea kayaking. There is very little boat traffic, the scenery is great, and there’s lots of exploring to do.

Georgian Bay
I live in Northern Ontario and have kayaked a lot and done several multi day trips here. If you are willing to get a bit further north and west…meaning north of the French River area and the crowds of cottagers boaters and Toronto people I recommend a few areas and you can check them out on the web and google earth.

  1. Philip Edward Island accessed from Killarney is an excellent trip with beautiful scenery and lots of camp sites. You pay a daily fee as it is accessed from Killarney Provincial Park.
  2. Further west along the north shore of the North Channel separating Manitoulin Island from the main land off of highway 17.

    You can literally put a kayak in the water at Whitefish Falls on Highway 6 south of a town called Espanola on hwy 17 and paddle 100 miles in among hundreds of islands, opens areas and spectacular scenery. Although there are cottages near Whitefish Falls there are many thet are crown land and can be used. Check out web pages on the Benjamin Islands (very popular in summer) the Whales Back Channel and the Turnbull Islands. I have done day and multi day trips to all these areas and even in summer you can feel quite isolated.

Video from the trip

– Last Updated: Sep-16-11 7:26 AM EST –

Thanks for all the input. We wound up paddling the Mink, McCoy and Franklin Islands:

post here too for more

Post to the Canadian canoe routes forum for huge amount on info and trip blogs

Georgian Bay

– Last Updated: Sep-22-11 10:52 PM EST –

This trip (see link) isn't for everyone, mainly because there are no official campsites on any of these remote wilderness islands. The east shore of GB is probably a better choice for most paddlers. I've paddled the French and Pickeral Rivers, but there's nothing like big open water to get your thrills.