Lake Nairne, Charlevoix, Quebec
Photo by Julien Robitaille

11 reasons why fall is the best season for a canoe trip

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Just because it’s time to start closing up the cottage, doesn’t mean you have to pack away your canoe or kayak the minute the leaves start to fall. Here are the top 11 reasons why autumn is the best season for a canoe trip.

1. You’ll have the entire river to yourself

As traffic slows down on the 400-series highways leading to the cottage, it also slows down on the waterways. With everyone back at school and work, you’ll have a greater chance of having the entire river or lake to yourself.

2. You won’t have to battle bugs

Energy that would otherwise be spent swatting away bloodsuckers can be devoted to perfecting your j-stroke instead. Best of all, fewer insects also makes fall the prime paddling season for taking along kids and pets.

3. Cooler weather makes for smooth waters

With a lower risk of thunderstorms, fall weather conditions provide a stable and mild environment for paddling. However, it’s still possible to get a sunburn in the crisp autumn air, so don’t forget to pack your hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.

4. Portaging is made easier

Lowered temperatures make everything more manageable, including portaging. Without sweating too much, you’ll be able to travel further distances with fewer breaks.

5. It can build character

There’s no doubt that canoeing in the off-season can be more challenging, particularly when faced with overnight frost or an unexpected snowfall. But dealing with these adverse conditions will only make you a better camper and paddler.

6. You’ll have the best vantage point of beautiful autumn colours

Nothing quite beats the reflection of brilliant red and orange hues on the water, especially when contrasted against the clear blue fall sky.

7. You might get a better night’s sleep

On multi-day paddling trips, the cooler air at night makes sharing a tent that much more bearable.

8. You’ll have a better selection of campsites

There’s no need to line up or book weeks in advance; with fewer people portaging or on the trail, you’ll have a choice selection of the best camping spots.

9. The best views of the brilliant night skies

While you’ll have less daylight hours to paddle, you’ll have increased night time hours to glimpse that perfect shooting star.

10. You can fuel up on comfort foods

Nothing makes a canoe trip better than a hearty meal at the end of a long day. Since it’s harvest season, you can relish in comforting stews and soups cooked over campfires.

11. You’ll have a better chance of spotting wildlife

As animals stock up for the winter and get ready to head into hibernation, their on-shore activity will increase. Deer, moose, elk, and bats will all be seeking mates, while birds can be seen migrating. With fewer leaves to contend with, you may even be able to spot them more easily through the trees.

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