Madawaska River - Lower

Madawaska River, Ontario, CA


Lower (The Snake)

Usual Difficulty II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 5.73 Miles

River Description

This is a reliable run throughout the Ice-Free season, and is fantastic place for begginner boaters. The river is pool-drop and mostly free of major hazards. Location is it's major downfall, as it is 2-3 hours from major cities (Ottawa and Toronto). It is very mellow at low levels, and gets to be a rock and roll ride at 100+cms. 

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-12-11 15:21:21


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
2.5Island Rapid (Hass's Hole)II+Playspot Photo
2.7Corner (Tom's) HoleII+Playspot
3.0Dog's LegI
3.4The ShallowsI
3.5The NarrowsIIPhoto
3.9Exam TimeN/A
4.1Rifle ChuteIIIPhoto
4.5Split RockII+

Rapid Descriptions

Island Rapid (Hass's Hole) (Class II+, Mile 2.5)

Loop attempt at Hass's Hole

Loop attempt at Hass's Hole
Photo taken 12/11/16

The first rapid of the sections, the river splits around an island and there are cabins on either side. Scout on the island or on the right shore.There are different holes and waves that come in at different levels here. The main set of holes begins to get playable (not too shallow) at around 75cms. Anything above this there should be good play at Hass's. (This rapid is also known as island rapid). The most common line (and the only one with enough water at very low water) is the far river right directly beside Hass's cabin.Note: you can also put-in here or access this point from the west side of the river. You need to pay the property owners to drive into their property. Costs 5$ per person at time of last visit. This road makes this a Park and Play feature.

Corner (Tom's) Hole (Class II+, Mile 2.7)

At very high water (200+ cms) a wave comes in on the corner between Hass's/island and Dog's leg. It is small, but good to play on and practice flat spins.

Dog's Leg (Class I, Mile 3.0)

This is a small meandering CI/II that takes a sharp turn at the end. A good place to practice eddy hopping. Some holes and pourovers form at high water that can be a bit difficult for open canoers. 

The Shallows (Class I, Mile 3.4)

Some flow through here as the river splits around an island. Biggest hazard here is usually getting stuck on rocks. At very low water, this becomes a more significant rapid than The Narrows. Be more mindful of this one at below 30cms. At low water, the line is to the left and forms lots of pillow rocks to get stuck on.

The Narrows (Class II, Mile 3.5)

Trying to surf @ The Narrows

Trying to surf @ The Narrows
Photo taken 12/11/16

The river constricts here and creates a great glassy tongue on RR beside the campsite. There are two holes that form in this rapid (Loaf's Holes) that are surfable at high levels. A typical dry line is to go down the tongue and go through the small tongue in between Loaf's holes. The tongue is great for practicing jet ferries.

At most levels this is a CII, but at higher levels it could be considered a II+.

Exam Time (Class N/A, Mile 3.9)

The last rapid before the big one. Named as such from canoe trippers having one last chance to hone their skills. This is a pretty easy line down the left hand shore. Pretty much a rock dodge. Some potentially surfable waves form on the RR side at high levels.

Rifle Chute (Class III, Mile 4.1)

Rifle at high water

Rifle at high water
Photo taken 12/11/16

The first class III on the river, this is a rollercoaster ride at high water, and a pushy rock-dodge at low water.

Low Water - 

The river drops off with a few exposed rocks and the only easy line down the middle, you then have to decide whether to go right or left at the bottom. There is usually more water to the left, but you run the risk of being pushed sideways into the center rock pile. You can also decide to keep straight/right into the rock garden and hope you find a deep channel.

High Water - 

This is a fun one! You can ride it just about any way you like, though I would advise you to avoid the hole/rock just left of center. There is a boof move into an eddy on the far river left, and a fun channel in the center as well as the right side. 

Split Rock (Class II+, Mile 4.5)

This can be the most fun of the day at any level, but becomes the most significant rapid at low water. The typical run is the right channel, trying to avoid (or hit) the holes. There is also a middle channel that can be run at high water, or a far left channel. Usually, the right has the most water and the biggest waves. Be aware that this rapid runs directly into Post-Split, but there is a good recovery pool on the RR side before Post-Split.

Post-Split (Class II, Mile 4.6)

This is a narrowing in the river directly after Split Rock, a wrap rock lies in the middle-left of the river, so be careful about that. The typical line is down the right. At some water levels a fun ledge forms on the RL.

Surprise! (Class N/A, Mile 4.7)

This is only a rapid at high flows (150+cms). But when it is in, it is IN. A very fun, glassy surf wave forms here and it is a great place to practice. 

Raquette (Class II+, Mile 5.0)

This rapid is split around several islands. Scouting can happen from the middle island. The typical line is left of the island down the RR side of that channel. A small hole forms at the bottom at a rock. This rock is pointed upstream and has done some damage to boats and people. The channel to the right of the island is known to have metal spikes hammered into the rock, but could be a fun run at high levels.

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