If you’d like to get out on the water in a canoe, kayak or raft, but aren’t sure where to begin, Hamilton Halton Brant has plenty of options for paddling beginners to pick up their oars and dip in!
Get Going on the Grand
The Grand River is a perfect place to learn how to paddle. It is a very gentle river, and area outfitters such as Grand Experiences, Grand River Rafting and Heritage River Canoe and Kayak Co. make it so easy to gear up and go. You can opt for a guided or instructional canoe, kayak or rafting experience where an expert teacher will accompany you on the trip to show everyone the ropes and ensure the day is a success.
Here are some great choices for instructional, learn to paddle experiences:
Get some canoeing cred with Grand Experiences’ Learn to Paddle and Paddle Canada Basic Skills Certification Experience. This is a full-day experience packed with learning that begins on the calm waters of Pinehurst Lake, where participants master the basics of draw and pry strokes for manoeuvring, and sweeps and the “J” stroke for steering. Next, it’s on to the Grand River’s Mohawk Run to learn how to read a river and determine what strokes to use in different conditions. By the end of the day, you’ll be paddling like a pro and earn your Paddle Canada Canoeing Basic Skills Certification.
Grand River Rafting offers beginner canoeing lessons with or without a guided trip. These are practical, hands-on canoeing lessons for leisure recreational paddling on the Paris to Brantford canoe route. Instructors provide the one-hour lessons on land and water, then shuttle participants upstream for a 2-3 hour trip down the Grand River.
Learn to kayak in white water with Grand Experiences’ Nith River Learning Adventure. The Nith is an ideal river to learn on in spring high waters, and instructors start by teaching power, steering, and brace strokes. After an on-river morning of basic techniques, enjoy a hot riverside lunch at Viking Beach. After lunch, continue developing your skills by navigating Swift Alley, the deceptive currents of Devil’s Cave, and the Level 1 and 2 rapids of Arrowhead, Big Curve, and Penman’s Pass. You can also kayak the Grand River with Grand River Rafting, an outfitter offering beginner lessons with or without a guided trip. Kayakers head out on the Paris to Brant Park Route and start with land-based instruction, followed by two to three hour paddles.
If you’ve never given rafting a try, Grand River Rafting offers a special beginner trip, the Grand River Cayuga Paddle. It starts in the town of Paris and ends 12 kilometres downstream, a 3-4 hour trip. En route, spot osprey, a blue heron nesting area, and wildlife like deer and muskrats.
Canoeing at Cootes
Give paddling a try in paradise! At Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, the Cootes Paradise marsh is the site for a number of guided canoeing programs designed for beginners where you’ll see the wetlands’ inhabitants from a new perspective.
Introduction to Canoeing is offered on various dates starting in June. If you don’t know a bow from a stern and think going straight is easy but don’t know how to turn, join ORCKA-certified instructors for two half days of canoeing instruction focused on teaching safety and techniques. Participants spend the mornings paddling and experiencing Cootes Paradise while mastering the quintessentially Canadian J-stroke.
Paddle in Paradise guided tours give participants a view of wetland plants and wildlife and a glimpse of the astounding life that depends on the health of the marsh for its survival. RBG supplies the canoes, paddles and life jackets, and participants bring your camera and binoculars. The Family Canoeing program is recommended for 2 adults and up to 2 children over age 4 and is another guided canoeing adventure to learn about Cootes Paradise.
Become a Paddleboard Pro
Find out why stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is taking the world by storm. Get out and enjoy the water with lessons at Burlington Beach with Burlington Beach Rentals or a two-hour introduction to the sport at WhaSUP in Troy. Grand River Rafting in Paris has mapped out a great route on the Grand River and will provide a lesson before you set out.