Sudbury is becoming quite the star of Northern Ontario. A fantastic stop on any Northern Ontario road trip, it has plenty to offer whether you’re a foodie, an art enthusiast or a fan of the outdoors. While Sudbury has a number of amazing hikes, it should be seen from all angles. If you’re an avid paddler and are looking to get out on the water, this Sudbury kayaking guide is for you! I’ve paddled each of these spots and I’ll share my thoughts and feelings on each of them.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
6 Amazing Spots for Kayaking in Sudbury
It maybe known as the nickel city but what you might not realize is that Sudbury is home to 330 lakes scattered throughout the city’s limits. No wonder that the kayaking in Sudbury is spectacular! With a number of options at a variety of skill levels, it can be hard to know where to go. Here are my top recommendations for some Sudbury kayaking.
Launch Site Address 1: Free from 486 Ramsey Lake Rd, Greater Sudbury, ON
Launch Site Address 2: Free from 322 Elizabeth St, Greater Sudbury, ON P3E 2X7
Launch Site Address 3: Free from End of Moonlight Beach Rd, Greater Sudbury, ON P3B 3V7
Ramsey Lake is arguably the most popular spot for water activities in Sudbury. It’s easily accessible and allows boat traffic, meaning it can be quite busy in the summer months – especially on weekends. However, there’s plenty of room for everyone and with 34 kilometres of shoreline to explore, there is plenty to see!
This large lake has multiple access points, making it great for paddling throughout the day. If you’re an early bird and looking to catch the sunrise over the water, launching from the Old Sudbury Canoe Club off of Elizabeth Street (launch site address 2 above) is your best option. As for sunset, the main boat launch (address 1) as well as Moonlight Beach (address 3) are perfect for this.
Another perk for paddling Ramsey Lake is that you can see a number of unique landmarks from the water. Paddlers can spot the iconic shape of Science North, the brilliant colours of Canada’s Largest Mural and more.
However, if you’re a beginner paddler or being around large boats makes you nervous, Ramsey Lake might not be for you. Sticking to the shoreline will help with this though if you’d prefer a destination without motorized watercraft, there are other great options on this list.
Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
Launch Site Address 1: Free from 2309 S Bay Rd, Greater Sudbury, ON P3E 6H7
Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is just a short 10 minute drive from downtown Sudbury though you’d never know it. Located within the Ramsey Lake Sub-Watershed, its 2,400 acres are a popular destination for hiking in Sudbury. However, it deserves to be explored from the water as well!
With two docks directly in front of the Nature Centre or the beach area right beside the parking lot to launch from, you’ll be treated to spectacular views as the Canadian Shield seems to emerge from the lake in immense clusters that seem almost mountain-like. In other sections, you’ll see lines of birch and trembling aspen that sing as the wind blows through their leaves. Take your time delving into every nook of the shoreline. Chances are you’ll be mesmerized by the sights you’ll see!
Whether you’re looking to spend a few hours or a full day paddling, there is no shortage of area to be explored. Portage to different parts of this vast lake or make the trek to Perch Lake for a serene spot on busy summer days. If you’re really looking for an adventure though, you can even portage to the aforementioned Ramsey Lake! Take a look at the map of Lake Laurentian Conservation Area to better plan your route here.
Rentals are available on the weekends in July and August. You can find them next to the Nature Chalet and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Crowley Lake at Kivi Park
Launch Site Address 1: Park Pass Required, 4689 Raft Lake Rd, Sudbury, ON P3G 1M4
Make your way a little off the beaten path by following Raft Lake Road through Kivi Park to one of its aquatic gems. Crowley Lake is stunning with extremely clear waters offering plenty to see beneath the surface.
Unlike many of the Sudbury kayaking destinations on this list, Crowley Lake can have a decent current that you’ll need to contend with. It means you can enjoy a leisurely paddle if you go with the flow or enjoy a bit of a workout if you work against the current! Either way, no motorized boats are allowed on Crowley Lake so it’s the perfect spot for a calm, leisurely paddle.
Crowley Lake isn’t the largest and more experienced paddlers might be looking to up the ante. For more adventuring, you can portage to both Camp Lake or Linton Lake
Kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available from the Crowley Lake Outpost from June to October. Reservations must be made in advance by calling the Crowley Lake Outpost Coordinator at 705-626-2531.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Raft Lake Road is a little rough and might be unnerving to some folks in smaller cars. I would recommend driving in a larger vehicle if possible.
After Labour Day however, the outpost is closed unless there is a reservation so if you’re looking to paddle Crowley Lake in September and October, it’s best to call the Outpost Coordinator to ensure the access gate is open for you.
Launch Site Address 1: Across from 161 Glenbower Crescent, Wahnapitae, ON P0M 3C0
Snaking its way 120 kilometres from Scotia Lake near Halfway Lake Provincial Park through Lake Wanapitei to the French River’s mouth on Georgian Bay, the Wahnapitae River offers a number of paddling possibilities in Sudbury. It’s named after the Ojibway word waanabidebiing meaning “concave-tooth shaped water” which is in reference to Lake Wanapitei’s shape and shoreline. As you can imagine, it means there are plenty of alcoves to explore!
One great spot to launch is from the public boat ramp and dock near the Wahnapitae Community Centre at the corner of Highway 17 and Glenblower Crescent. This may be one of the less refined launch points in Sudbury but it will still get you on the water! Here you will find a number of homes along the riverfront but you’ll be treated to pristine bouts of nature after a few minutes of paddling.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: There are no facilities available other than the boat ramp and dock so make sure you empty your bladder before you depart! If it’s an emergency, there is a gas station across the way you can pop into and buy something to use the bathroom.
The Wahnapitae River has a fairly strong current which will pull you southwest along the water. If you choose to follow the current as I did, you will be met with the Coniston OPG Generating Station approximately three kilometres downstream and will be forced to turn around. There is plenty to see along here however, including the possibility of spotting a gorgeous heron which calls the area home!
Whichever direction you choose to go in, stick to the sides of the Wahnapitae River as you paddle. There is a high chance of boat traffic and with so many blind corners, it’s best to stay away from the middle to avoid any accidents!
Vermilion Lake / Vermilion River
Launch Site Address 1: Along Gordon Lake Road Near Stobie Dam Road [map]
The Vermilion River, known as atikamgzib or dikmegzubi meaning whitefish river in Ojibway, offers a number of incredible paddling opportunities in Sudbury. This vast river spans 200 kilometres, though there’s one specific section that is easily in my top three paddling spots. It’s not to be missed when kayaking in Sudbury!
Make your way northeast of the city in the direction of Chelmsford. From Ontario Highway 144, take a left on Vermilion Lake Road until you reach a four-way stop with Gordon Lake Road. Take another left and after about 600 metres, you’ll see a dirt access right before the bridge. This is where you’ll launch for your Vermilion River adventure!
From the launch point, you can head either east or west. East will have you paddling with the flow as the river snakes through Northern Ontario forests. If you want to access Vermilion Lake then against the current you go and head west. Whatever you choose, the world, err, the river is your oyster!
If you’re looking for a tranquil paddle, the Vermilion River to Vermilion Lake is some of the calmest you’ll find in Sudbury. Feast your eyes on impeccable reflections as you paddle through lilypads and reeds past towering trees. After about 2.5 kilometres of paddling, you’ll reach Vermilion Lake. Created with a logging company constructed a dam at the outflow portion of the river, Vermilion Lake was once used to float timber as this flooded the area to craft the lake. Logging no longer occurs and now we get to enjoy some of the calmest water you’ll find in Sudbury!
While it’s easy to get lost in the incredible scenery, there is a bit of a current as well as boat traffic. Similar to the Wanapitae River, sticking to the shoreline should avoid any possible mishaps.
RELATED: Since you’re so close to the town of Onaping, I highly recommend checking out the incredible beauty of High Falls. Check out my guide to the A.Y. Jackson Lookout for more details!
Watch in the trees for local wildlife while you’re on the water. It’s not uncommon to hear little songbirds chirping away as you glide through the water. If you’re really lucky though, you’ll catch a Kingfisher in all his glory diving for eats in the river. It’s quite a spectacle to watch!
Launch Site Address 1: Free from Kalmo Beach at 2998 Sandy Beach Rd #2632, Blezard Valley, ON P0M 1E0
Whitson Lake is located just 20 minutes north of downtown Sudbury in the community of Val Caron. Home to Kalmo Beach Conservation Area, it’s a popular destination for fun in the sun during the summer months. If you’re an autumn paddler like me though, it’s not uncommon to have the place to yourself!
What makes paddling on Whitson Lake different than most on this list is that there is a vast array of “islands” and rock formations protruding from the water. You’ll find so many alcoves and crevices which makes this one of the most interesting places to go kayaking in Sudbury. Think of it as a choose-your-own adventure and the possibilities are endless!
While Whitson Lake is said to be 17 metres (55 feet) deep, there are a number of sneaky shallow rocks you’ll want to watch out for. If there’s anywhere to wear a pair of polarized sunglasses, Whitson Lake is it!
Kalmo Beach has a building with bathrooms and change rooms which is open in the summer months. Come September, the building is locked but a portapottie is available if nature calls. Parking is located across the road from these facilities. Paddlers can launch right from the beach itself but be prepared to trek your gear from the parking lot as it’s elevated from the shoreline.
Before you depart, make sure to check the water conditions first. Whitson Lake can suffer from blue-green algae blooms in the stark heat of summer. It presents as scum on the top of the water and contact with the toxins released by the blue-green algae can cause skin irritation, mild respiratory effects and other physical impacts. You can see the latest water quality report here.
Other Sudbury Kayaking Destinations
As you can imagine, these aren’t the only spots for some great paddling in Sudbury! For more ideas of where to launch, here are some more recommendations to help you get out on the water.
Lake Nepahwin – Meaning “sleeping lake” in Ojibway, Lake Nepahwin is another fantastic for paddling in downtown Sudbury. However, it certainly isn’t sleepy now as this is a popular spot to get on the water and a great alternative to Ramsey Lake.
Onwatin Lake – A widening of the aforementioned Vermillion River, this is another great spot to paddle. If you are paddling with a friend and have two vehicles, you can launch at the end of Notre Dame Avenue and exit the water at southwestern quadrant of Desmarais Road for a 10 kilometre route of stunning serpentines.
Silver Lake – If you’re a beginner who’s looking to spend some time on the water so you can get a feel for your kayak, Silver Lake is said to be a great option according to local Sudbury paddlers.
Whitewater Lake – Located along the southern shore of Azilda, Whitewater Lake is another great destination that links to a number of rivers including Levery Creek. The eastern side of the lake is shallower than the west so if you’re less experienced, it’s best to stay towards the east.
Windy Lake Provincial Park – I’ve only had the chance to visit Windy Lake in the winter, however it offers some spectacular paddling in the summer months! While it closes in the fall months, Windy Lake is a fantastic destination for some summer paddling.
Things to Know When Kayaking in Sudbury
Are you ready to get out on the water? With all of these incredible spots to paddle in Sudbury, of course you are! However, it’s important to ensure that you’re prepared since as paddlers, we are at the mercy of Mother Nature’s elements. More specifically, the water.
Ensure you have all the safety gear necessary to be out on the water. At the bare minimum, you must have a Transport Canada approved life jacket (aka PFD or personal flotation device, there will be a tag inside indicating such), a buoyant tow rope which is typically found in a throw bag (in case of rescue) that’s at least 15 feet long, a manual bailer that can be either a bucket or pump, and a whistle that works in water. These are mandatory in order to legally use your kayak in Canada.
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
Never go out to a destination without a friend or family member knowing where you are. There are plenty of lakes and rivers to explore and accidents can happen!
It’s also a great idea to have the app What3Words on your cellular device. This way if you do run into any trouble or get lost, emergency responders can easily find you by this unique grid system that identifies your exact location.
Check the Weather Before Departing
The weather can change on a dime and when paddling in larger bodies of water, this can lead to a quick change in conditions. Make sure to look at the weather in Sudbury for the day before departing for your kayaking adventure.
Allow Yourself Extra Time
It’s not uncommon for us paddlers to get caught up exploring every little nook or getting caught up in the natural beauty that surrounds us. However, it’s important to make sure we leave ourselves ample time to arrive at our departure point before dark.
If there’s a chance you may be cutting it close to sunset, ensure you have a waterproof flashlight or other illumination device in your kayak. This way you can see where you’re going but anyone else that may be on the water will be able to see you as well.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Sudbury Tourism. While I was compensated for my time, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!