Paddling the Carp River can be rewarding for the beauty and tranquility of rural scenery, but it requires knowledge of the river and its flood condition, and some portaging around obstacles. The Carp River is narrow and generally shallow. It can be paddled only when there is sufficient water, usually during the spring freshet and fall rains, and sometimes in the summer if there’s been a lot of rain.
There is one significant white water area, which is located about 8 km below the village of Kinburn, between where the river crosses Carp Road and Galetta Side Road. There is drop of approximately 7m over 125m. Otherwise the river is flat.
The downstream current can be strong during spring runoff due to the volume of water flowing to the Ottawa River. From Kanata to just below the Diefenbunker in Carp, the change in elevation is roughly 4 meters over 12 km. Between the Diefenbunker and the Ottawa River, the elevation change is about 35 meters over 25 km.
Check out our Videos page for a 15 minute edited clip of an April paddle from John Shaw Road to Fitzroy Harbour. Note the strong current and white water conditions during the spring freshet. This section is not recommended for casual paddlers.
Be prepared to portage around downed trees in the river, which can be a muddy and slippery experience. However, the pastoral scenery makes the journey worth the effort!
With a few exceptions (Carp River Restoration Area and Kinburn Community Centre), the land on either side of the river is private property so please do not trespass.
Places to Paddle
Between the village of Carp and the Huntmar Drive railroad crossing. Park in the village near the Carp Road bridge (at Rivington Street) and paddle up river to Huntmar Drive, then return to Carp with the current. There is no parking at the Huntmar Drive end. Round trip of 11 km.
This is a very scenic section of the river with open marshes, farm fields, and overhanging tree canopy beside Irish Hills golf course. Large Carp spawn in the river near Huntmar Drive in late spring.
The natural riparian banks help filter runoff and prevent erosion. Overhanging trees keep the water cooler and reduce sunlight, lessening vegetation growth in the river. Observe the difference in water quality and aquatic vegetation between Carp Road and March Road, where there is little tree cover and significant agricultural runoff, and the reach between March Road and Huntmar Drive, with more natural shoreline.
Between the village of Carp and Thomas Dolan Parkway. This section has a number of old farm bridges blocking passage and many downed trees. It’s not recommended for paddling.
Between Marathon and Kinburn. Another section that people like to paddle is from the bridge on Thomas Dolan Parkway down to Kinburn and back, a round trip of 15 km. Park on the road shoulder at the bridge on Thomas Dolan Parkway just north of Marathon Village or park at the Kinburn Community Centre and paddle upstream. This section of the river is agricultural and very open with little tree cover.
Between Kinburn and Carp Road. Park at the Kinburn Community Centre and paddle downstream to where the river intersects Carp Road then return, a round trip of 13km. The white water area is north of Carp Road, so don’t paddle farther.