Spanish River in Ontario?

Has anyone taken the train from Cartier to Viscotasi Lake and then taken a canoe down the West Branch of the Spanish River? I am thinking of taking my son in July. What can you tell us about the trip?

Have taken the train and done the west branch half a dozen times. Never went all the way to the lake though. There are a few places to get off, and on, does not have to be Cartier.

West branch has the “good” rapids. Portages are easy and well marked.

Go to Canadian Canoe Routes, do a search in the routes section.

PS: The train ride is a hoot. It is only 2 cars, the regualr one with seats and a baggage car. One of them, not sure which, also has the engine underneath. Very laid back.

If you need more info, I can probably help.


More on the Spanish River
Thanks for your help. How far did you go in how many days? Did you ever go in early July and what kind of conditions did you find? I’m looking at this river because it is rather close to Michigan and yet it looks like nice wilderness up there. Am I right?

Never in July . . .
Not the west branch anyway. Usually on that side in early or late in the season.

Did you know that the river is dam controlled? Water levels can vary no matter what month you go. Give me a reminder and I can get an accurate reading for when you go.

How far are you planning to go? The Elbow? Agnew Lake? In how many days?

My trips can vary in length depending who I am with. When with the guys we push fairly hard, when with my SO it is much more relaxed.

Wilderness is relative. Wildlife can be seen on most trips but there is the possibility of being skunked. Have seen moose, beaver, fox, bald eagles, lots of ducks etc.

And people. In July you can count on others being there but the west side always has less.

How are you planning on getting your train tickets? If you call the 800 number they generally don’t have a clue to reality. The crew needs at least 48 hours notice to make sure they have room for a canoe in the baggage car. I can help here, they know me a bit 'cause I get my tickets at the station.

I have a couple of pictures of the train, or Budd Car as it’s called, here:

Look in the album called “Getting to the Water”. There are others of the Spanish scattered around but you’ll have to sift through them.

The Spanish is one of my favourites - have been down 29 times, as far as I can recollect, from various put ins and take outs.

I’m sure you’ll like it.

Keep me posted.


Question for Paul on Spanish
Hi Paul,

I did the Spanish last summer and love it. I will do it again. I was wondering if you ever ran Little Graveyard or Big Graveyard Rapids? It looks like one might be able to run Little G. but Bib G looked too dangerous. I started at the Fork but wish I could done West branch from bisco. It will be for the next trip.


Little G, yes
Big G, no.

The Little Graveyard is a trick one. The natural flow is toward that big rock in the middle. There have been more than a few pins there that have stayed for a full season.

Never done the Big but was tempted a few times. Once when I was tandem with my SO, the water was higher than I have ever seen it. There was a narrow line RL and a slight possibility of missing those knife sharp rocks after the first drop. We both talked ourselves out of it, probably for the better.

As a side note, the old owners of the lodge at Agnew had a picture from the 20’s or so of a cook running the the Big G in his cooking scow. The water was so high I could barely recognize it.

Must have been a heart stopper!


Spanish River
I can imagine no way whatever that you could run the entire Graveyard section with canoes and full gear aboard. Some of it can be done, as we did last summer, but the big one is going to require a short carry.

Regardless, out trip from Duke Lake to Agnew last summer was the very best one we’ve ever taken, and that’s saying something. There were very few people, challenging, but runnable rapids, and magnificent scenery. I’m definitely going back.

No… wait… it was a crap trip. None of you would ever, ever want to go there and you should make a point to discourage your friends as well. Yeah, that’s the ticket! (:->)

Steev Baker

New Lenox IL

1600CFS Today
A bit of a surprise . . . very dry around here lately. Should be good for paddling for a few weeks anyway.

Another surprise . . . we have a week off and will be on the Spanish starting June 30. Taking the train to the forks and paddling down to Agnew.


1600CFS wow!
I believe last year when I ran the Spanish it was at 1300 cfs. Looking at the shore it looked moderately high at that flow. The royal ride after Cedar Rapids was definitively a royal ride, FAST and fun. We had no problem floating. Is 1600 cfs considered high? Will be doing the Noire River this year and hope for good water levels. I wish I would live closer, but i will return to the Spanish.

It’s honkin’ . . .
at 2800CFS as of today.

Will be on the river about noon on Thursday; out Tuesday or Wednesday . . . depends how lazy we are :slight_smile:

Flow will be cut back to about 500CFS late Thursday or Friday unless there is more rain up north of Bisco.

Anyway, should be a good run for a couple of days anyway.

I’ll post some pics when we get back.


Will be on the West Branch next week

How was your trip? My group is planning to be on the river next week, beginning the 12th of July, 2005. Any predictions for us? How were the bugs?

Damn good trip!!!
I would have to rate this as one of my better Spanish trips.

Water was high, bugs were almost non existant, weather was a mix of heat, humidity and rain. Lots of rain up north so I expect the water to remain high . . been wrong before thought :slight_smile:

Got 'puter troubles now so pictures won’t be available until tommorrow.

Where you catchin the train??


Spanish water very low but nice trip
Well, we had a very nice trip on the West Branch last week. The train took us north on Tuesday and we returned on Saturday. Every day was very hot, in the 90’s, clear, but the nights were cool. Very few flies and the mosquitoes held off till just before dark but then they tried to carry us away. We saw very few people and had a close encounter with a moose and her calf–very exciting for us and them. Eagles, osprey, river otters, beaver, and a few nice fish. The water was very warm and swims were frequent and necessary.

The water was very low and there were many gravel, stone bars we had to pull our canoes over. Many of the rapids were so low that we had to portage or line our canoes–this was the disappointing part. Pictures and more details later.