Difficulty: Easy – Difficult (distance).
Setting: Through farmland and woodlands.
Facilities: 2 Full-Service Provincial Waterway Parks.
Signage: Information kiosks at waterway parks. Minimal signage.
Easy #paddling for any experience level.
Unofficial camping spots for overnight trips.
Plenty of access points.
The Musquodoboit river has roughly 80km of paddling. Starting in Upper Musquodoboit and ending in Musquodoboit Harbour.
There are plenty of access points, including 2 provincial parks which are aimed at paddling accommodation. Musquodoboit Valley Park and Elderbank Waterway Park (both open May 20 – Oct 10) provide ideal access points to put in or take out and include parking, toilets, and picnic areas. Other access points are mostly where road bridges cross the river, and the only other ideal parking spot is towards the end of the river, known as Crawford’s Bridge, where you can pull right up to the river off of highway 357.
The river is extremely easy to navigate and paddle throughout. My experiences have come in early spring when the water is high and has made for completely problem free, easy paddling with no tough spots. The lazy current kept me at a 5km/h average pace through most of the river (I can’t speak for anything upstream of Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital. The trips I have done would be ideal for families or paddlers of any experience level.
There are various overnight camping spots, mostly unofficial, but fantastic spots nonetheless. The campsite I used (between Elderbank and Meagher’s Grant) was an ideal place to park a few canoes, and set up a few tents. A fire pit and some gathered branches were there upon our arrival, and even a nearby outhouse facility (minus the house) was a big bonus. You’ll want to filter or boil any water you drink from the river as there is plenty of farm runoff. Flies and ticks can be bad in certain spots so be prepared.
The scenery is fantastic as the river is lined with huge old trees with their root systems on display as the banks of the river have eroded. Plenty of fish, beaver, turtles, eagles, hawks, geese and birds of all kinds can be seen along the way.
Nearby access to Musquodoboit Trailway’s “Gibraltar Rock” lookoff near the end of the river is definitely worth a quick exploration. The lower parts of the river are full of falls and white water so that area is for the very adventurous only.
You can easily plan a one, to three-day paddling trip and experience nothing but smooth sailing. A local service will rent canoes, and/or be a shuttle to help coordinate your put in and take out spots. I highly recommend this trip to people of any paddling ability (from my Springtime experiences).
In recent years the NCC has been doing extensive work protecting lands around this natural treasure and I highly recommended supporting their mission (donate!).
–Related Reading: “Paddling the Tobeatic”.