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  CONESTOGO RIVER

April 26, 2003 - Glen Allen to Hawkesville:

On April 26, Matt, Hil and I paddled part of the Conestogo River. I put the canoe on the car, and headed to Matt's place for 10:30 am. He was out picking up Hil when I got there, so I started to untie the canoe from my car so we could put it on his trailer. Before I got it totally undone, Matt and Hil showed up. We then tied both canoes onto the trailer and were ready to go. We checked the map again to figure out where we were going, and were on our way. We drove to Hawkesville in just over an hour, and left my car by the side of the river. There's a quiet gravel road there, and it's a reasonably safe place to park without worries.

We drove Matt's car and the trailer to Glen Allen, and found that there was a park right beside the river. There's a nice parking lot there, so we parked the trailer there and unloaded the canoes. The GRCA water flow monitoring station is right beside the bridge, and it has it's own little walkway up to it. I went up to take a look, but there's not much too see. ccording to the GRCA, the flow level at Glen Allen was about 3.75 m3/s. We found that this was quite adequate, and I think the river could be run when the level is even below this, although it would involve a little bit of "bump and grind." We didn't have too many problems with the water level, although there were a few spots where it was impossible to avoid scraping the bottom. Matt christened his newly re-finished canoe by scraping off some of the new gelcoat, and I just added a few more scratches to my well-worn yellow beauty.

Matt and Hil paddled together in Matt's canoe, while I soloed mine. Soon after we left the park in Glen Allen, we came across what looks like a Boy Scouts camp or something similar along the shore on river right. There were picnic tables, archery and a climbing wall. Shortly after leaving Glen Allen we also came across a concrete road crossing the river. I forget if it was before or after the Scout Camp, but it's close to the start of the trip either way. Keep an eye out for it. The roadwas below the water, but not by very much. It appears that the farmers just use it to drive their tractors over, and I'm sure it's well out of the water in the summer. As it was though, it was about 20-30 cm below the water, and would have been a pretty nasty scrape if we hadn't have seen it and carried around. There's a little bit of the drop on the far side, so watch out if you paddle it! I'm sure in higher water it would be a fun ride, but not at this level.

The rest of the river was pretty uneventful, and the only problems we had were a few shallow spots which we scraped across. Matt had to get out a wade a few times, and I did once or twice too. This area is prime Mennonite country, and the river passes through lots of Mennonite farms. We saw a lot of horse-drawn farm equipment out in the fields. There was a manure spreader, seeder, some sort of disc or cultivator, and lots of wagons and buggies out and about. At one point in the river we passed two Mennonite children who were fishing. They had their horse and buggy tied up under a tree, and they had a small fire going by the river bank. We also saw more fishermen on some of the road bridges, and also below the large abandoneded railway bridge abutments.

When we got to the end of our trip in Hawkesville, we left the canoes under the road bridge, hoping that no-one would steal them. We then got in my car and drove back to Glen Allen to get Matt's car and the trailer. We then drove back to Hawkesville, retrieved the canoes from under the bridge and tied them on the trailer. The paddle took us about 3 hours in total, if I remember correctly. We drove back to Woodstock, and tied my canoe back onto my car. We said goodbye, and I left for home. I would rate this as an excellent trip. Since the river is dam controlled, I think there will be more water in it than in the Nith for the summer months. This means that this section may be doable all year! Keep an eye on the flow levels on the GRCA page to see!

Todays portage distance = 0 m
Total portage distance = 0 m
Todays paddle distance = 15.9 Km
Total paddle distance = 15.9 Km


August 2, 2003 - Hawkesville to St. Jacobs Dam:

Matt and I decided to go for a little paddle this long weekend, and took a look at the flow guages on the GRCA website to see where we'd have the most water. We determined that the Conestogo River would be the best bet. We chose to begin where we took out last time, so planned on doing the river from Hawkesville to St. Jacobs dam.

I met Matt at 9 at the ORC parking lot in Woodstock. He had his canoe on the trailer. We drove to our take out at the St.Jacobs dam. I parked the car, and then we took a look around the dam to see where the best take-out would be. There's a trail on river right before the dam, so we decided that was the best spot to take out. The other otion was to portage on river left, then paddle across once below the dam. I got into Matt's car and headed up to Hawkesville. We drove to Hawkesville and parked by bridge, on the road that parallels the river. It was around 10:30 am when we put in.

The water level was actually higher than when we ran the river in April. The GRCA flow gauge at Glen Allen was reading about 4.5m3s, while at St. Jacobs it was about 5.5m3s. We found that this was enough water to paddle comfortably for most of the way, although there were a few spots where we had to scrape bottom to pass. It would still be do-able with less water though! All in all, the paddle was quite nice. We came across farmer's fences across the river 4 or 5 times. In some cases, they were marked with flags so that they were easy to see, but some were harder to see. One even had a sign on river right warning about the fence, and a "gate" in the fence, which was actually much too shallow to pass through. Instead, we just ducked under the fences. Be careful of fences if the water is higher/faster! They could be very dangerous. There were also two bridges that we had to lift over, but they didn't cause any problems.

The whole trip took about 2 hrs 20 mins to complete, at a leisurely pace. We saw lots of geese and herons, and one muskrat, but that's about it. The weather was overcast and dreary, with light rain on and off for most of the time. The temperature was about 22C.

Again, a nice trip, and highly recommended as it's so close to home!

Todays portage distance = 0 m
Total portage distance = 0 m
Todays paddle distance = 9.5 Km
Total paddle distance = 9.5 Km


General Notes:
  • The river water contains a lot of run-off from farm fields, so I don't advise drinking the water, even if you filter or purify. It's much easier to take your own water on a trip like this.
  • Water levels can change drastically in the spring, so be careful! Be prepared for any possible conditions and don't push your skill level.
  • The river is dam controlled, just upstream of Glen Allen, so water level may change at any time if the GRCA opens or closes the dam. Be aware of this possibility.
Maps and Info:
  • Conestogo 40 P/10 (From Toporama)
  • This area is partially in the Region of Waterloo, so therfore information is available for further study at the Region of Waterloo GIS Locator website.
  • Check out the GRCA website for river flow levels, reservoir discharge and other information related to the Conestogo (Click on "Real-Time River Data").
 
  This page was last updated on August 6, 2003 at 09:45 PM  
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