Noteworthy Waterways at their Peak in Spring

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We all know the saying, ‘April showers bring May flowers’, but with this week’s forecast in mind, all this April rain will bring forth another fascinating natural event; high water levels.

When coupled with the Spring run-off, April hosts some of the season’s best views of our beloved waterways. While our true to the word ‘waterfalls’ are limited, many of our favourite scenes take on new life in the Spring. What was once a non-descript trickling creek, is now a fast-flowing spectacle. 


Declaration of emergency and provincewide stay-at-home order

As COVID-19covid 19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, a declaration of emergency and provincewide stay-at-home order are in effect as of Thursday, April 8, at 12:01 a.m.

For details regarding provincial restrictions, please visit Ontario.ca. In addition to restrictions outlined by the province, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH, has implemented a Class 22 Order. Please follow the guidelines. This blog post is intended for locals’ inspiration only.

Six Waterways Worth the Adventure

Egan Chutes Provincial Park

(Google Map)

This non-operational provincial park along the York River is home to two sets of Falls, Egan Chutes and Farm Chute, both of which are exceptional in their own right year round. However, their demonstration of power and might is most noteworthy in Spring. In my humble opinion, the best view of Egan Chute is from the entrance on the Western side of the river. It’s easy to miss as there are no signs (it’s kind of an ‘if you know, you know’ situation). A short hike along the river will guide you to the Falls. Take your time and be cautious as the rocks can be very slippery.

Egan Chutes Provincial Park

The Gut Conservation Area

(Google Map)

The Gut is a one-of-a-kind, natural wonder that again is scenic in any season. It gets its name from the large gorge, over 30 metres high, and the dynamic Crowe River that flows through it. Having visited in Spring, Summer and Fall, each time as beautiful as the last, there is nothing quite like the roar of the rushing water in April; it is awe inspiring. At some points along the trail, it’s almost difficult to hear your companion(s) talk, which, in today’s world, offers a rare opportunity to disconnect and simply sit quietly, melding into your surroundings.

Callaghan Rapids Conservation Area

(Google Map)

Switching it up a little, these falls are lovely for their width, not height. There are two cascading falls that stretch right across the Crowe River creating a spectacular view. From the parking lot, the easily navigable (I’d even go so far as to call is accessible) trail leads to the first set of falls. However, the second set are the most visually appealing. They can be found by continuing along the path less travelled through the old cedar woods. The soft moss-covered ground, carpeted with ferns and burnt orange cedar droppings makes for a really beautiful walk. Watch your step though. The ground opens up into cavernous gaps in the Canadian shield. The closer you get to the second cascade, the more frequent they become.

Callaghan Rapids Conservation Area

High Falls on Skootamata River

(Google Map)

This set of Falls is unique in that it can only be visited via boat. A scenic 2.5km paddle North from the put in (located at the Picnic Area along Hwy 7) you will be greeted with the sights and sounds of a truly ‘au natrel’ experience. With no noise pollution and little chance of meeting others, it’s the perfect spot to bask in the beauty of the natural surroundings. The portage is on the west side of the waterfall. Look for the sign on the tree. It is in good condition, but is steep. Wear shoes with good tread if you plan to get out and explore for the perfect photograph. 

High Falls on Papineau Creek

(Google Map)

Amplified with the Spring surge, this picturesque set of falls is worth seeking out. While it’s visible from the road, you can also park and explore. Always be sure of your footing as it can get slippery. The entrance right off of Boulter Rd. is quite hidden, so keep your eyes peeled. Whitewater kayakers delight at running Papinaeu Creek when the water is high, if you are lucky you might even get to watch them tumble their way through when you visit.

High Falls on Papineau Creek; photograph by Chris Schneider

O’Hara Mill Homestead & Conservation Area

(Google Map)

While it may not a ‘waterfall’ per se, the original pioneer saw mill was powered by water and sits above a bridged dam. When the Spring runoff begins to make its way South, the Mill Pond overflows and sends water rushing down the other side. There are multiple trails that cross along different stretches of babbling creek throughout the property, but my favourite is the short and sweet Fern Trail which meanders along-side it, just down from the dam. 

O’Hara Mill Homestead Conservation Area

Three Waterways Worth a Peak If You Are Driving By

Driving through the area? Hop out, safely of course, and catch a glimpse of these notable waterways in all their Spring glory.

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek winds itself all the way from North Hastings to South Hastings, with many crossings along the way. None more memorable then the Glanmire bridge on Old Hastings Road that provides a nice upstream and downstream view.

Village of Marmora

Stretch your legs by taking a stroll along the Brian Goodchild trail. Beginning at Memorial Park, and heading North, it runs parallel to the Crowe River up towards to the dam. When water is flowing through the dam, there is a fair amount of whitewater which makes for a pleasant backdrop for your outing.

Price Rapids

This small cascade is found just south of Hwy 7. During the summer months, the river dries significantly, but in the Spring, the whitewater is quite impressive. There is a small parking lot for the Conservation Area. From there, follow your ears.

Inspired for more? Why stop there?

Take on the whitewater yourself by learning to kayak or canoe with Madawaska Kanu Centre, or perhaps taking a getaway on the water is more your speed. Fall asleep to the sounds of the falls at the Island Mill Getaway.

It should go without saying, but here I am saying it, please respect these wildly authentic spaces. Take only pictures, and leave only footprints.



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