Canoe Adventures


"Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe."   - Henry David Thoreau


There are times when a solo paddle, with no others around is what you need to refresh the mind and body. And yet, other times we need to meet up with like minded paddlers to share the moments.



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Water to Ride


Let's Go paddling! But where? The local water can be the most appealing, but it's not always what you most want to paddle.

What type of paddle trips do you want to take?

Because safe paddle adventures don't happen by accident, we need to get our most appropriate gear and boats for the desired paddle. Canoes that track well are great for lakes or flatwater known as Class I. Canoes with a big rocker are more nimble and work well for quick turns on swift water such as Class II and up.

What kind of canoe do you have? How heavy is it? Can you lift and load it on your vehicle yourself? All of these questions might help determine where you might consider to enjoy your adventures.

All paddling trips will take you onto a body of water with a class rating of I - VI. The system is designed to provide a guide to possible or likely water conditions present on that body of water.

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight, self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended.

Class V: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to above average endangerment. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is mandatory but often difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential for survival.

Class VI: Extreme. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run.

Flatwater or Class I will usually give you the ability to begin and end your trip at the same put in with little trouble. Lakes and rivers of moderate flow, can allow one to decide to put in and take out at the same place.

However, as the flow rate increases on rivers, the use of a shuttle will need to be considered as the effort to return to the starting place will become impractical. Services exist to provide the return of drivers to their vehicles. Trips of days or many days will require some sort of shuttling of paddlers to and from put-in to pull-outs. I'd be leery of following the model mapped out in the movie Deliverance where they just gave their keys to locals and just accepted the outcome. It all depends on how well you trust the situation.

Research the Flow Rates and Weather

Once you decide where you would like to go, you need to get information on both the flow rates and the weather conditions. Since these are pleasure adventure trips, you can always have a plan B instead of plowing ahead and getting yourself in a pickle by following through if your margin for safety gets too slim. Where can you get that data? The USGS will provide you with the flow rates for many of our nations rivers, streams and lakes. NOAA is also a great resource for more information on weather and water conditions. Your states department of water resources or parks department might also be a good place to look for water flow rates. Knowing long term weather conditions can help you prepare for a trip as well. Burn bans and lack of water will surely have an impact on a paddling adventure. Resources such as the US Drought Monitor will provide fast reliable data to help you see what type of condition exist today and help you plan that next trip.

Weather Underground has some cool features on it too. The wundermap allows you to select many additional informations sources to overlay on a local map. Below is a screen capture that shows the small rectangles which represent USGS gauges in the geographic area shown. Clicking on the rectangles gives the current flow and it also has a link to the actual gauge.

Check out our resources pages as well as they have links to information sources specific to states, or national databases.

Additional resources for where to go

Local paddlers know their area pretty well, so if you are interested in a paddling adventure many hours away, look for local outfitters, Yahoo or MeetUp groups in that area. The state parks systems for the area of interest can also prove to be a great place for accurate information. An additional resource, is the tourist information centers, as they can also prove to be valuable places to look for places to paddle, outfitters and places to stay along your route. Tourist information centers not only have printed materials to give away that include maps and brochures but also are staffed with people that are there to guide you to places to have fun in their state.

Nation wide paddle trails are starting to get to be an option in many locations. There were 7 paddle trails opened by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division in conjunction with cities in the North Texas area.



Conservation Issues

Water is one of the most precious resources we have and as such, deserves our utmost attention. If you can save it; do so. If you can help clean it; do so. The following groups and information about water conservation and river groups is put here to continue the awareness of water. Without it, we certainly have no rivers to enjoy.

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