Great Muskoka Paddling Experience: An Epic Fall Event

With the largest concentration of fresh water lakes in Ontario located here, it’s no surprise that the Explorers’ Edge region is also host to one of the fast-growing paddling events in the province.

Paddlers of all skill levels will meet once again this autumn for the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience, a signature outdoor event that takes place annually in the picturesque town of Bracebridge on the Saturday of the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

GMPE-5-thumbOn Saturday, October 7, 2017 the 7th annual edition will once again feature 5km, 10km and 20km distance events for recreational and competitive paddlers, with tons of categories (50 to choose from!) for multiple vessels, including canoes, kayaks and SUPs.

Everyone will gather at Annie Williams Memorial Park to register (save on the fee by registering online) and to embark on a day of fall paddling on the stunning Muskoka River, including excursions to the bottom of the iconic Bracebridge falls.

Though leisure paddlers will fit right in, the event is also sanctioned by the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association (OMCKRA), which means some of the fastest and strongest marathon paddlers in the province will be competing. (In 2015, the OMCKRA voted the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience “The Race of the Year” over 18 other races held across Ontario.)

New This Year

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the North Canoe Challenge will feature teams racing in voyageur-style canoes over an 8.4km distance. Bring your own voyageur canoe and team, or register to use one of up to 10 boats provided at the event. Dragon boats and war canoes are welcome to race too in the staggered start event.

The registration deadline for North Canoe racing is Friday, Septeptember 15.  For the 5km, 10km and 20km events, online registration closes on Friday, October 6.

Also new this year, there will be a free, continuous shuttle bus service from Annie Williams Park looping along Manitoba Street and around downtown’s Memorial Park (check out the last Bracebridge Farmers Market of the season). The shuttle service will run from 10am to 1pm. Bring your friends, family members, support crew who can also pass part of the day exploring historic downtown Bracebridge.

The 2017 Great Muskoka Paddling Experience will also feature a used paddle and equipment exchange – just like hockey gear swap – and a silent auction for a Trak Collapsible Kayak (a 16′ performance kayak that fits within a carryall bag comparable to a large golf bag).  In addition and exclusive to participants, the Bracebridge Sportplex will offer a special shower-only fee ($2) those who want to freshen up with a hot shower before making the trip home.

See More, Paddle More

Want to try paddling the river without entering the event? There are many outfitters in the area who can rent you all the equipment you’ll need, or you can go on a guided tour of the stunning waterways, including Muskoka Paddle Shack, on of the main sponsors of the event.

LIV Outside in Bracebridge is located on the Muskoka River and near this Thanksgiving weekend event. They can outfit you and also offer several guided canoe and SUP tours for those new to the sport or unfamiliar with the area.

Algonquin Outfitters, with locations in Bracebridge and Huntsville, also rents equipment and provides guided tours, particularly in beautiful Algonquin Park (in addition to sponsoring the event). For a more complete list of outfitters throughout the region, including in Parry Soundclick here.

A fall road trip to Ontario’s cottage country reveals some of the nation’s most incredible scenery – and a paddle on the Muskoka River at the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience on October 7, 2017 will be an outdoor adventure you’ll never forget.

To register for the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience, click here.

For more great fall adventures in Ontario’s cottage country, click here.

To plan your stay in the region, click here.


Funds raised at the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience are in support of the Muskoka Watershed Council, Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, and the Muskoka Paddle Club.



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