Is there anything better for a passionate paddler than calm waters, sunshine, and warm temps? Unless, of course, rushing rapids and driving rain is your thing. That’s cool too, we don’t judge.
With summer around the corner, kayakers and paddle pros have every reason to be excited. Living along the Great Lakes shores provides a massive playground for boating adventures of all stripe. We’ve compiled some don’t-miss events for anyone who’s itching to get their oars out.
1. Wilderness Supply REEL Paddling Film Festival (Thunder Bay, ON – April 19th, 2016)
The Reel Paddling Film Festival is a tour which shows the best paddling films in over 120 cities around the world – and it’s coming to Thunder Bay for the first time, for one night only. The event promises to be friendly to paddle junkies, adventure enthusiasts, film buffs, and newbies alike. The tour’s gorgeous website has sneak previews with action-packed footage: click here, and then click ‘watch’ to get a taste. From sweeping shoreline vistas to heart-pounding POV footage going over rapids, we’re sold!
The event’s sponsors will be giving away prizes as well. Your ticket purchase qualifies you to win gear from Level Six, Grey Owl Paddles, GORP Clean Energy Bars, and WAVPaddling.
Sponsored primarily by Wilderness Supply and WAV Paddling, the Film Fest is at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, April 19th: doors at 6:30pm, show 7pm-10pm. Tickets are $15 advance, $17 at the door. You can buy tickets online here, or go directly to Wilderness Supply at 244 Pearl Street to purchase.
2. Michigan Water Trails: Upper Peninsula Water Trails (Michigan, Lake Superior Shoreline)
The Michigan Water Trails have got five major water trails to be enjoyed along Michigan’s Lake Superior Shoreline. The Isle Royal National Park Trail; Western Upper Peninsula Trail; Hiawatha Water Trail; Lake Superior East Trail; and the St. Mary’s River Island Explorer Trail. Their locations range from Isle Royal, Grand Marais, Whitefish Point, Sault Ste Marie, Drummond Island, and more.
Boasting over 3000 miles of shoreline to explore for canoeists, kayakers, and stand up paddle-boarders, the site offers tools to help you plan your own adventure. Interactive maps allow you to see photos of the shoreline, as well as the trail’s route. It also helps you choose a route based on what you’re most interested in, narrowing your focus by attractions, camp sites, amenities, historical sites, harbours, and more. It’s definitely advisable that paddlers, whether old pros or novice newbies, read up on safety and weather precautions before venturing into the water trails. Luckily, Michigan Water Trails offers tonnes of info on weather warnings, recommended gear, paddling etiquette, accessibility, paddling safety, cautions on Lake Superior’s rip tides, and more.
This is a fantastic resource for the self-starting paddler. Take a look, plan your summer adventure, and make sure you read everything on the site before heading out! Best practices = best experiences.
3. Voyageur Musical Paddling Tour (Rossport, ON to Red Rock, ON – July 31, 2016– Aug 5, 2016)
We’ve saved the best for last!
This unique experience aims to weave together “three quintessential Canadian experiences: paddling a Voyageur Canoe, exploring Lake Superior’s north shore, and enjoying live folk/blues music alongside a cozy campfire.”
Over the span of a week, paddlers make their way from Rossport, ON to Red Rock, ON in time to enjoy the Red Rock Folk and Blues Festival. They travel in a replica of the 36-foot canoes used by voyageurs who traversed Lake Superior for the fur trade centuries ago. Don’t let the rugged impression scare you off: the boat is 5 feet wide, stable in windy. wavy conditions, and there’s plenty of guidance for novice paddlers. Every year, the tour features a different guide who navigates the canoe, keeps you entertained with stories, and jams with paddlers BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument!)
The tour’s route is among the best along Lake Superior. “From the quaint community of Rossport extends westwards through Superior’s Sibley Island archipelago, a chain of scenic, semi-mountainous islands complete with agates, lighthouses and wilderness saunas. Fascinating flora and fauna, wondrous geology, crystal clear waters and protected wilderness stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s all part of Canada’s newest National Marine Conservation Reserve. This trip finishes with a tobacco offering at the pictographs on the Nipigon River adjacent to the Red Rock community grounds where the festival is held.”
This year, the tour will be held from July 31st, 2016 – August 5th, 2016, with the option of staying in Red Rock to enjoy the folk festival. The cost is $1045 Cdn + HST (Folk Fest tickets must be purchased separately, at additional cost.) The cost includes “Full guiding, Voyageur Canoe and camp outfitting, hardy and healthy meals (except Sunday evening), live entertainment, vehicle shuttles, park fees.”
For a taste of the tour, check out this video by Joe Baur! A review of the tour is up on the Northern Ontario Travel blog as well.