Thursday, June 21, 2012

A perfect paddle on the Tay Canal from Perth, Ontario!

Actually, I've had more than one perfect paddle on the Tay Canal and through the beautiful Tay marsh. Why? It makes me relax. It makes me stop and look at stuff, like nature! Especially birds. And it makes me want to paddle! There are too many photo ops along the way. Beware. Bring extra batteries for your camera.
My favourite time of year to kayak the Tay Canal and marsh is late spring when the air is cool, birds are nesting, and the stronger early spring current from the winter melt has usually settled down. But the water is still cold, so it's a good idea to dress for submersion, just in case you go overboard.

Can you see the bird in the nest just left of the yellow kayak? She blends in well with the fallen tree branches.
You'll see people canoeing and kayaking the Tay in spring, summer, and fall, along with a few motor boats that go slow in the boat channel between Beveridges locks, which is part of the Rideau Canal system, and Perth, Ontario.

Paddling the Tay is a favourite of groups, families, and couples.
This paddler stopped to take a few pictures, and is trying to catch up to a large group in the distance.
If you plan a paddle on the Tay Canal, I hope you also plan to spend some extra time or a few days in the quaint town of Perth, founded in 1816. I love seeing the preserved 1800s buildings in the historic downtown, which makes for a really cool visit on foot to poke around shops, eat in bistros, visit a museum, and more.

When in Perth, please don't miss a visit to beautiful Stewart Park. It's in the heart of the city, where you'll find picnic tables, sunny wide open spaces, and shade from trees. There are foot paths in Stewart Park along the Tay River and foot bridges that cross the river as it meanders through the park. I especially love the flower gardens, and the awesome bronze statue of Olympic rider Ian Miller on his famed horse Big Ben near the park's entrance. Photo ops abound here. It is a favourite spot for wedding photos.

This post will help you plan a paddle on the Tay Canal and I'll show you a few of my favourite “photo ops” along the way.

Launch sites: I like to launch from Last Duel Park, just outside of Perth's downtown and paddle to Upper Beveridges locks, enjoy a leisurely break at the lock station, and paddle back to Last Duel Park.
Last Duel Park boat launch
Last Duel Park has great amenities for the paddler and the boater. The boat launch is kayak friendly. There is lots of free parking, a restroom with flush toilets, a great play area for kids, wide open spaces, picnic tables, and mature trees for shade.
Last Duel Park is historic. The “last duel” in Canada apparently took place in this park. Hence the name.

You can also launch from the Upper Beveridges Locks in Port Elmsley, Ontario, and paddle to Last Duel Park. If you continue paddling past Last Duel Park, for about one kilometre, you'll soon find yourself looking at downtown Perth and the large Farmer's Market, open Saturdays from May to October, overlooking the spray of three beautiful water fountains.
Larger motor boats can't make it past Last Duel Park into Perth as there are a series of low bridges to pass under.

At Upper Beveridges Locks, there is free parking and restrooms, but this is not a kayak friendly launch site. There is not as much space or picnic area as Last Duel Park. And, you'll have to get into your kayak or canoe from an elevated blue cement wall or boat dock.
Distance: It's about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from Last Duel Park to Beveridges Locks, 20 kilometres (12 miles) round trip.

Current: The current runs from Perth to Beveridges locks, and empties into Lower Rideau Lake. If you launch from Last Duel Park and go right, you're heading towards Beveridges locks and you're going with the current.
The kayak has reached Upper Beveridges Locks 34. On the left, you'll find an elevated - not very kayak-friendly blue cement wall and boat dock for landing, picnic area, and parking. Public restrooms are in the white lockmaster house. Get out here to picnic. If you lock through this lock, you're heading to Lower Beveridges Lock 33 which empties into Lower Rideau Lake
If you launch from Last Duel Park and go left, you're heading towards downtown Perth against the current.

You can only go about one kilometer, passing under some low bridges, and into Perth. Just past downtown Perth, the water trail soon ends at a small dam.

If you launch from Beveridges locks and head towards Perth, you're going against the current. 

Ease or difficulty of paddle route: I have found this 20 kilometre round trip paddle fairly easy for me in a well-designed sea kayak, but you may find it tiring in a smaller recreational kayak or canoe. You will also want to factor in wind, and the current, which can vary depending on the season and water levels.

Wind: Check weather reports for wind speeds. You may encounter a head wind, cross wind, or tail wind on the trip, especially in the open areas of the Tay marsh. I avoid really windy days.

Shoreline friendliness: There are limited places to get out of the kayak or canoe along the route. The shoreline along the way is mostly wild with a mixture of marsh, fallen trees, farmland, or private property. So plan accordingly. Have water, snacks, and whatever you might need along the route in a handy place. Plan to get in and out of the canoe or kayak at the launch sites, not along the route.
Boat channel markers: There are red and green boat channel markers. If you follow them, it will help you find your way and keep you out of the shallows and rocks. Motor boats pass through the boat channel in the Tay Canal too, so be on the lookout to give way. They go slowly.
Enjoy your paddle on the Tay Canal and Tay Marsh!

Other Favorite Paddles and Camping Spots
For more information about the Rideau Canal:
BaffinPaddler kayaking the Tay Marsh with the Boreal Baffin sea kayak, and awesome Made-in Maine Greenland paddle
It's a lot of fun to paddle with paddle buddies. They always seem to know where the best paddle trails are, and how to get to the boat launch! Thanks to our dynamic local paddle clubs, awesome instructor communities, and great waterways, we have lots of opportunities in Canada to get together for a paddle and to improve our skills.

Paddle safe. Always wear a PFD. Happy paddle trails!
The BaffinPaddler

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