9 routes to paddle in Manitoba

Posted May 23, 2023

In Manitoba, summer means getting out and enjoying all that our rich environment has to offer, whether it be venturing out on a hike or dipping a paddle into one of our 100,000+ lakes. Both beginners and seasoned pros can find a route to suit their needs, and we have plenty of whitewater and gently rolling rivers to go around. So gear up, head outside and paddle your heart out on one of these 9 routes in Manitoba…

Take on Black River in Nopiming

Nopiming means “Entrance to the wilderness,” in the Anishinabe language, and you’ll see why on this trip down Black River in Nopiming Provincial Park. The entirety of the Black River route takes about 4 days and it is advisable to paddle the river in periods of high water (May is usually good) when it becomes a whitewater challenge. When the water is low, it becomes highly technical. Along the way, see shield rocks, mixed forests, swampy flatlands and rapids.

Dustin Silvey
Caddy Lake Tunnels kayaking

Venture into the Caddy Lake Tunnels

Paddle through the man-made tunnels of blasted through rock from the time when the railroad was built. Welcome to the Caddy Lake canoe route. This route connects south and North Cross Lakes and offers secluded campsites or picnic areas for day trippers.

Travel along Grass River in Northern Manitoba

The legendary route will take you from Cranberry Portage to Wekusko Falls Provincial Park. The Wekusko Falls Campground is the perfect picturesque point to rest after a long journey. This route is certainly not a short one, but it is definitely one of the best sub-arctic trips. Consider arranging a customized trip with a guide from one of Manitoba's many paddling outfitters.

Paddle into the sunset in La Barriere Park

La Barriere Park is the ideal spot for beginners looking to wet their paddle. The dam controlled river provides the prefect setting for leisure paddling within city limits. Watch for deer and beaver along the stunning La Salle River. Looking for support as your set your new sights out on the water? Connect with the Manitoba Paddling Association and if you're looking to rent within city limits, contact Winnipeg Canoe Rentals.

Go on an adventure through the Pinawa Channel

Get ready for an adventure down the Pinawa channel in beautiful Pinawa Dam Provincial Park. The trip is a little over an hour and boasts one of the most scenic day-trips in Manitoba. The channel was excavated more than a century ago, creating cliffs of boulders that line the shore. See a turtle nesting area, take a lunch break at the suspension bridge and keep your eyes peeled for birds of all types, including swans. The last stop of the day is at the stunning Old Pinawa Dam Provincial Historic Park, where you can watch waterfalls and walk along the ruins

Two men in a canoe are paddling whitewater on the Manigotagan River through the Canadian Shield in Eastern Manitoba.
Photo credit: Dustin Silvey

Challenge yourself with the Manigotagan River

Located a few hours north of Winnipeg, the Manigotagan is a popular spot for hiking and yes, paddling! According to the MB Eco Network, the most frequently paddled route is the 134 kilometres between Highway #314 and the community of Manigotagan at the mouth of Lake Winnipeg. Along the way, see boreal forest and marshy areas.

Spend a day on the Bloodvein

This Canadian Heritage River offers challenging whitewater paddling with both rapids and waterfalls – but beware, they aren’t flagged or marked, so consult a guidebook and resourcing before and during the paddle. The Bloodvein River is remote with true unspoiled beauty and is accessible enough to be explored by most levels of paddlers. Get a glimpse into a typical trip on the Bloodvein.

Set out on Seal River

There’s no doubt about it – Seal River is a challenging route and is undertaken each year by small groups of experienced paddlers. It’s wild, rugged and attracts brave wilderness adventurers because of its untouched environment. The challenge comes with its rewards: 260 km of whitewater, deep gorges, marshes, tidal flats, islands, shelves and everything in between. Enormous lake trout and large northern pike can be reeled in from the river and the area is rich with once-in-a-lifetime hikes.

Set Your Sights on Souris

Victoria Park, Souris

Swinging Bridge, Souris

Agate Rock Pit, Souris

Souris Manitoba is the quaint small town with a touch of magic you didn't know you needed to visit, until now. If you're a beginner to paddling and are looking for a "closer to home" feeling type of experience, then paddling the Souris River is for you. Bring your own equipment or visit River Rat Rentals. If you're fascinated by geology add a stop in on your trip to Souris' Agate Rock Pits or the Rock Shop. If you're feeling extra touristy the Souris Swinging Bridge is a must visit along the way. Top up after a day on the water by visiting Victoria Park and one of many delicious eateries along the riverbank

Stay safe on the water and always wear a personal flotation device when kayaking, canoeing, tubing or stand-up paddle boarding.

Water levels and paddling conditions can fluctuate throughout the season. We recommend checking with the local paddling community before setting out. Wilderness Supply and the Manitoba Canoeists Facebook Group are knowledgeable resources.