How to Find Canoe Routes: 9 Resources for Planning Your Next Canoe Trip!

How to find canoe routes using canoe trip maps

Hello friends! With summer on its way, it’s time to start planning canoe trips for the upcoming season. To help you plan some incredible canoe trips, I’ve put together a list of resources I use to find canoe routes.

Some are great for planning specific itineraries (canoe trip maps and trip reports), while others are better for inspiration (Youtube). Some are great for answering specific questions (Facebook groups) and others are good for planning logistics (outfitters). All in all, I hope these resources set on the path to planning an amazing canoe trip!

In this post, I’ve included details on the following resources for finding canoe routes.

  • Guidebooks
  • Canoe Route Maps (both online and paper)
  • Trip Reports
  • My Canadian Canoe Routes
  • Outfitters
  • Topographic Maps
  • Blogs
  • Facebook Groups
  • YouTube

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support is much appreciated! You can learn more by reading my full disclosure.


📚 Guidebooks

I’ve found guidelines particularly helpful for two things: 1) learning about routes in areas I’m unfamiliar with, and 2) getting a very deep understanding of a single destination.

For the former, I’ll look to books like 60 Top Canoe Routes of Ontario or Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes. Both of these books are by Kevin Callan and they provide a ton of information on specific canoe routes in areas you may never have heard of.

On the other hand, there are guidebooks for specific destinations that are super helpful for planning campsites, portages and rapids. For example, Hap Wilson’s books on the Missinaibi River or Rivers of the Ottawa Valley provide campsite ratings, portage descriptions, and illustrations and classifications for rapids.

There’s also a lot of information about the history and culture of the area. If I’m doing a whitewater canoe trip and Hap has a book on the river, I’ll buy the book and read it cover to cover while planning my canoe trip.

I’ll usually pair one of these books with a canoe map from Chrismar (more on that below) to find where the specific campsites are and get the most up-to-date information on portages and campsites.

Missinaibi Guidebook - How to Find Canoe Routes

🗺️ Canoe Trip Maps

Canoe trip maps are another great way to build your own canoe routes. Once you have an idea of which park or region you’d like to camp in, you can either find a canoe route map online or order a paper copy.

Unlostify Maps (Online)

When I can, I’ll use the online Unlostify maps, as they’re detailed, easy to read and easy to use online. They have maps for the following parks:

  • Killarney Provincial Park
  • French River Provincial Park
  • Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
  • Massasauga Provincial Park

Chrismar Adventure Maps (Paper)

My favourite paper maps are the Chrismar Adventure Maps. I own a ton of them (both for destinations I’m planning to visit and others I’m curious about). Each map contains information on the campsites, portages, natural features and history of the region.

There are 67 maps in total, so I won’t list all of the destinations, but here are a few of my favourites:

  • Algonquin Provincial Park (multiple maps covering different sections of the park)
  • Bon Echo Provincial Park
  • Killarney Provincial Park & Phillip Edward Island
  • Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park and Missinaibi River Provincial Park
  • Temagami (multiple maps covering the region)
  • Algonquin Provincial Park (multiple maps covering different sections of the park)
  • Bon Echo Provincial Park
  • Killarney Provincial Park & Phillip Edward Island
  • Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park and Missinaibi River Provincial Park
  • Temagami (multiple maps covering the region)
How to find canoe routes using canoe trip maps

Other Maps (Online)


🌟 Trip Reports

Trip Reports is a database of over 100 trip reports for backcountry camping routes in Canada. The majority of reports are for canoe routes, making it an excellent resource for planning a canoe trip. Each of the reports includes the following information:

  • Route Map
  • Outfitters / Shuttle options
  • Day-by-Day Itinerary (including campsite and portage descriptions)
  • Advice
  • Photos (and sometimes a trip video)

I think the site is amazing, but I’m also a little biased as I created the website and manage the reports. Each report is written by an adventurer I know who did the trip personally. Once submitted, I go through the report to ensure it’s accurate, comprehensive and ultimately up to my standards.

🔥 Tip: If you only need a specific trip report and don’t want to formally join Trip Reports, send me a message and I’ll get you that report!


My Canadian Canoe Routes

To my knowledge, My Canadian Canoe Routes is the largest collection of canoeing trip reports online.

The trip reports have been submitted by users over the last three decades, so the details and timeliness of the reports is sort of a mixed bag. But if you’re looking for information on a lesser-known route, this is your best bet.


Outfitters

Another resource I’ll sometimes consult is the outfitter for the region. Outfitters are experts on the destinations in which they operate.

They often know tips for routes that the general public is not aware of (like where the best campsites are, which lakes are the quietest or which portages you should absolutely avoid).

For example, when I was paddling the Missinaibi River, we called Missinaibi Outfitters to inquire about route options. We asked about the different access points and which would be the easiest to access and we asked for guidance on water levels and how long our proposed route would likely take. The outfitter was super helpful in getting us set up (and gave us a great rate on the shuttle) and gave us some tips about things to see along the route.

Now, it always helps if you’re going to be using the outfitter’s services. If you’re inquiring about canoe routes, don’t be surprised if they suggest a route that requires a shuttle or ask if you’ll need somewhere to stay the night before your trip.

That said, I’ve never heard of an outfitter withholding information from people who aren’t engaging their services.


Blogs

Another place to find trip reports is on personal blogs!

For example, Voyageur Tripper is obviously a great resource (if I do say so myself). I follow up each of my canoe trips with trip reports and destination guides, any of which can help you plan your own canoe route.

Besides my own, there are dozens (nay, hundreds!) of personal and company blogs with canoe route information. If you Google specific canoe routes, you should be able to find a blog post with a trip report about the route.

I sometimes refer to Canoeing.com, which has a lot of diary-style trip reports, especially for destinations in the US. Another regular is All of Algonquin, which is a great site specifically dedicated to Algonquin Provincial Park.

🔥 Tip: A lot of personal blogs don’t show up on the first page of Google search results as they get ‘outranked’ by larger, more generic websites. Click through to the second or third page of results and you’ll likely find someone has written about the route you’re considering.


Topographic Maps

If you’re planning a canoe trip in an area that isn’t a common destination (like crown land in northern Ontario or the territories), you’ll likely need to rely on topographic maps.

Topographic maps provide information on land and water features, contours, roads and more. Depending on the area, though, can come in varying degrees of accuracy.


Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups can be either awesome or awful resources for finding canoe routes. Here are the canoe groups I’m a member of:

  • Ontario Canoe Trippers
  • Crown Land Camping Ontario
  • Experienced Ontario Canoe Campers
  • Backcountry Camping Ontario (my favourite)

These can be a great starting point if you’re trying to decide which region to visit. If you’re debating a destination, post a question like “Between Wabakimi, Quetico and Woodland Caribou, which would you recommend for a 5-day canoe trip?”

A question like that will garner a lot of responses from people who have been to at least one of those parks. People will usually provide reasons for why their favourite place is the best and you can use that information to guide your decision.

Alternatively, you can ask for really specific canoe route advice. A question like “For those who have paddled the Spanish River, what did you for parking at the end of Agnew Lake?” can give you specific answers without combing the web for information.

So most of the time it’s awesome. Many of the people in the Facebook groups are wonderful people, both novice and experienced paddlers, ready to help out.

But occasionally, you’ll ask a seemingly innocent question and get attacked by people who have nothing better to do than criticize others.

I find any question that offers personal information can be a catalyst for trolls. If you say something like “I’m looking for a 3-day canoe route in Algonquin that has minimal portages because I’m still paddling solo”, there’s the possibility that people will respond with a rant about how you shouldn’t be camping solo (expect this if you have an obviously female profile).

So all in all, use Facebook groups for whatever questions you have but don’t take it personally if you get some not-so-nice comments.


YouTube Videos

The final resource I’ll speak to is YouTube. YouTube videos by canoeists are fantastic for getting inspiration and learning about new destinations. I look to channels like Ted Baird, Canoe The North, Explore the Backcountry and Northern Scavengers.

Most YouTube videos are pretty vague about the specific route and campsites, so you can’t get enough information to plan your own canoe trip solely using the videos.

But after watching a video about a destination, you can turn to guidebooks, maps, and trip reports to plan your own canoe route.


How to Find Canoe Routes – Final Thoughts

Hopefully you’re found this post helpful and you’re ready to start planning some canoe trips!

MY FAVOURITE GEAR

sportswear cardigan

Fleece Sweater

Maroon Arcteryx cerium LT for women

Down Jacket

Hiking boots of Merrell Moab vent

Hiking Boots

icebreaker tech lite women shirt

Hiking Shirt

deuter hiking bag

Back Pack

Hiking pants of the The north face

Hiking Pants

4 thoughts on “How to Find Canoe Routes: 9 Resources for Planning Your Next Canoe Trip!


  1. Stay in Touch

    Join our community of outdoor adventurers - you'll find trip inspiration, gear discussions, route recommendations, new friends and more!

  2. Pat says:

    Oh my….how could you possibly post this without mention of Paddleplanner.com? Shame on you! But still, thanks for the old school alternatives!

    • Mikaela says:

      As soon as I saw this post had a comment, I knew this would be why! I was lying in bed after I published it last night and was like “NO! I forgot Paddle Planner! Better add that before someone notices!” But you beat me to it, Pat! Adding it in now 🙂

  3. Real410 says:

    I think you may have gotten confused about Unlostify.
    Unlostify is part run by Jeff of Jeff’s maps. Unfortunately Jeff left Jeffsmaps as his business partner was not running business well(Actually it is rumoured to be much worse). It is Jeff’smaps that has been rumoured to take orders and never ship. I ordered maps from Unlostify just a few months with quick, fast service.

    • Mikaela says:

      Thanks for letting me know! I went back through some of the paddling Facebook Groups I’m in, and a few people have mentioned that they ordered from Unlostify and didn’t receive their orders (however they may be mistaken about which service they were looking at). For now, I’ve taken out the line. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *