Skootamatta River

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Additional Route Information
55 km
2 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
4500 m
Longest Portage: 
800 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

The Skootamatta is located on the Western edge of the Land O’Lakes district and flows off the shield to the pastoral lands of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands. The “Skoot” from Skootamatta Lake (just south of Bon Echo) to Tweed is 55km long and can be done in two long days of canoeing. This river is definitely a “before Victoria Day River”. The river is quite small at its Northern end and I cannot imagine canoeing it with water levels being a few inches lower. This is not the route for those looking for a leisurely weekend paddle. There are numerous rapids as the river makes its way off the shield and portage trails are almost non-existent in the northern section of the river. In addition there are numerous blow-downs to further impede your progress down the river.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Skootamatta River

Day 1

We left from Toronto at 0620 and were on the water by 1000. The topo map came in handy while navigating our way to the put-in. (Basically take 41 North of Cloyne left on Skottamatta Lake Rd then Left on Sheldrake Lake road.) We paddled a few kilometres south on Skootamatta Lake portaged around the dam. Soon after we had to do a lift-over around a small set of rapids that were impassable due to a blow-down . At the power lines there are swifts that can be easily navigate/bumped over. Following this there are numerous beaver dams that we simply canoed over as there was enough water flowing over them. At Slave Lake portage around the remains of an old logging dam on the left. After the dam there is another portage around a chute at a bridge. After this portage the river meanders for about five kilometres. The brochure for this route says that falling trees make canoeing very difficult in this section. I guess it was a matter of how much effort you are willing to put in, true, there were a lot of sweepers and strainers but the water levels were high enough to allow us to find a way around or over the trees, some times we would have to do a lift over, but I would not say this section is impassable.

We had lunch in a clearing at another small set that had to be portaged and then continued to paddle on a slow part of the river that meandered quite a bit again. On the approach to the village of Flinton there is a nice set of rapids that, depending on your experience can be run (CBR).

In Flinton it appeared that there was a recent fire that gutted a house near the river, the fire trucks were still on the scene when we paddled through. We believe it may have been the store; we also walked around the village looking for a place to get a snack but could not find a store. At Flinton, portage around the dam at the park on the left.

Just downriver of Flinton there is a chute that must be bypassed. Quickly followed by another set (CBR)

Just past a bridge begins a long set of rapids with numerous ledges. The brochure for this route suggests that this kilometre set of rapids can be run by whitewater experts. We opted for the “portage trail” as I could not locate any good places to eddy and trying to lift over the canoe around ledges would have been more of an effort than portaging. At the beginning of this set on the left hand side there is an excellent campsite where we spent the night.

Day 2
We started the day portaging around the aforementioned long set of rapids. I believe we ran the next set. Soon after the river begins to meander again complete with beaver dams and fallen trees. For the next fifteen kilometres or so (until the river comes close to Hwy.7) there are numerous rapids and falls. We used are own initiative when we approached an obstacle since the portage trails that the brochure describes seemed to be very difficult to find or non-existent. To this end use a lot of caution when approaching falls/rapids because the landings to portages are not always evident. We managed to shoot about half a dozen sets often in combination with lift-overs on this day. One set we ran while a nearby homeowner watched. He then came and talked to us and told us that he typically sees about five canoes a year. This, in addition to the leaves leftover from autumn in our fire pit at the campsite, led me to believe that we were probably the only party to canoe the entire length of this route this year.

The river then parallels highway seven for about ten kilometres. The conditions here are slow. At the end of this section our paddling was rewarded by the impressive High Falls. You must portage on the right side; from a distance it appears that one of the landings is very close (half a a canoe length) to the lip of the falls so we found a safer one about five metres back.

There is another two-kilometre flatwater paddle to reach the Actinolite dam. There is a conservation area on the south-side of Highway 7, I recommend terminating your trip here. We arrived here at 6:30pm but continued on to Tweed. The Actinolite to Tweed section was interrupted by one portage early on; most of it was flat water paddling interspersed with a few areas of swifts. The natural scenery in this part isn’t exactly awe inspiring, however upon our arrival in Tweed at 8:00pm we could say that we paddled the entire length of the Skoot and rewarded ourselves with some Tim Horton’s.

All in all the Skoot is quite an intense weekend trip that is fairly remote considering its distance from major population centres. Don’t expect to come to work on Monday feeling well rested!

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
31 C/11 31 C/14
Special Comments: 

The lack of cleared portage trails and some steep hills makes portaging difficult at times.


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Re the description by Jamie and Kylie Smith: According to the realtime gauge at Hwy#7, the Skoot was flowing only 1-1.5 cms during the first week of June 2005 (water level 2.95-2.98m). Good idea to check the gauge before starting this trip:

Minimum runnable level is ~3.3m (~12cms). Good whitewater level is ~3.7m (~40cms)

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


My daughter (10) and I went on this route in the first week of june 2005. Water leveels in the area were low and this led to a great many impediments in the upper part of the river! I do not recommend going on this route with low water levels without two strong and experiecned paddlers. No rapids were runnable and all needed to be lined or portaged. All of the log blowdowns required liftouts (roughly 50). All beaver dams required pullouts (roughly 50). During the lining process constant leach checks are mandatory. I have canoed many, but with the low levels, this one ranks right up there in terms of deep sweats and energy exertions! Good luck!(my daughter says you will need it!)