Trip Reports

Mississippi River:Pakenham to Blakeney Rapids 2020

Mississippi R:Pakenham to Blakeney Rapids

September 6, 2020

Art Edit EditA glorious sunny day greeted 8 happy RACCC paddlers: 3 canoes and 2 kayaks for our day trip on the Mississippi River, from the Pakenham Beach upstream to Blakeney Rapids and return. By 10:00 AM we paddled away from the sandy beach, upstream where the Mississippi flows under a railroad bridge and then winds through a wooded valley. There are a few cottages, a trailer camp and some farms along the way.

After about 2 hours and 9 kms of calm flat water and easy upstream paddling we arrived at the unexpectedly pretty Blakeney Rapids gently cascading and sparkling in the sun. The Nepean sandstone cuts across the river valley here, creating several channels and islands with beautiful waterfalls and rapids. The smooth granite rocks on shore made a fine place for our picnic lunch and for enjoying each other’s good company and stories. There were several families with the same thought of enjoying the enticing spot, making it a bit busy. But everyone was enjoying themselves and we all made space for each other.


After lunch, a short exploration uphill was called for. Little trails and bridges led to another doorpicnic area and a parking lot with an outhouse. Nearby was a delightful door ‘to nowhere’ in the ‘middle of nowhere’ with a magical little chime that rang when you went through it. It’s an enticing installation by artist Jared Macadam, entitled "Reciprocal Door", symbolizing that relationships are built when doors are opened, and people are allowed in. I want to go back just to try that door!

By 1:00 we were ready to be on our way back to the beach. About 3 kms before the railroad bridge, on the west bank we had an interesting side trip on Indian Creek which flows under hwy 15. A high elegant concrete culvert beckoned us to explore this lovely little meander. We wound our way through a dense forest for about 1 km before reaching an impasse. A mass of fallen trees blocked our way requiring us to turn around in a very tight space, and make our way back the way we came. The culvert was an enchanting spot to sing rounds, voices echoing while reflected light shimmered on the ceiling.

We paddled back under the railway bridge to the beach - downstream with even a little current is a treat. Wildlife sightings tallied up to include several Great Blue Herons, Turkey Vultures, Kingfishers, Chickadees soaring or swooping in the air and 12+ Painted Turtles (wee ones to big ones) sunning themselves on logs.

While it was ‘perfect’ the way it was, one participant suggested that ‘next time’ at the rapids, we canoe to the middle island to have lunch there (away from the crowds) and take more time to explore, swim, soak in the waterfalls and perhaps fish below the rapids. And then hike up the trails to go through Jared’s ‘Reciprocal Door’ (the chime is worth it)

For sure, we’ll repeat the detour through the tunnel and up the Indian Creek. Has to be said, the ice cream stop in Pakenham before the drive home is a do again!

Thank you so much Mark for organizing the beautiful day, with a perfect paddling distance and thanks also to our fabulous, supportive group for making it a great outing!

Route: Mississippi River from the Pakenham Beach to the Blakeney Rapids and back with a detour on a lovely Indian Creek
Agenda: 9:00 at RACCC Boat house or 10:00 at the Pakenham Beach, 12:00 Lunch and 1:00 ish return to the beach by 3:30 ish, time for icecream around 4:00 and back in Ottawa by 5:00 (ish)
Drive: about 58 kms / 50 minutes drive from RACCC Boathouse to the Pakenham Beach
Paddling Distance: easy 9 kms (2 hrs) upstream/return downstream, plus a 1+ km detour on the Indian Creek.

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