Out There

Interior canoe & back packing trips of the Clarke boys.

Canoeing Nova Scotia

Canoeing Nova Scotia: A paddlers notes on canoeing some of Nova Scotia's lessor documented lakes and rivers.

This is my blog containing trip reports and information on the lakes and Rivers my boys and I have canoed in Nova Scotia, Canada.  I decided to sart the blog as a resource to fellow paddlers as i have often met some frustration being a newcomer to NS trying to find suitable multi day canoe/camping trips in Nova Scotia.  

Please Enjoy,


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Canoeing Card Lake Nova Scotia, Card Lake Canoe Trip

Posted by Steven on May 20, 2014 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (24)

Where: Card Lake, near Windsor NS

Put in: Public boat launch at Card Lake Provincial Park

Size: Approximately 10 km's


Description: Card Lake is the beginning of the Avon River watershed and it has a Nova Scotia Power Dam that’s not being used anymore. Over the years, there’s been talk of removing the dam – which could adversely impact 20 km of ecosystem – but so far, the dam remains intact and the water levels are kept constant.


Remoteness:  No Cottages, no motor boats.  Wilderness setting at the end of the lake


Camping: plenty to find in low or high water


Fishing: No luck on this lake


Interesting facts: Hydro damn at far end of the lakeApparently an old rangers tower can be found off trail but we have yet to find it.

Wild life: LEECHES (lots of them)

Another beauty in Nova Scotia Card Lake has a few small cottages at the beginning of the lake near the public boat launch in Card Lake Provincial Park but is otherwise untouched and free of boater traffic.  The lake itself can be paddled in an entire day and from put in to the tip of the lake is a 40 minute paddle.  Despite this short paddle camping and remoteness is in abundance with white sand beaches to be found in low water and more rocky camping options to be found in high water.  The boys and I enjoyed paddling by many old camp fires that at the time of our trip were submerged under water.

Again despite it's releative smaller size the lack of motorized boats and cottages really give off a wilderness feeling when camped at the end of the lake and the times we have camped we have yet to counter fellow paddlers.

Of note on Card Lake is the lack of shade so ensure you bring a tarp which we learned the hard way baking in the sun on a hot July weekend.  Card lake is also leech central and you will certainly encounter your share when taking a dip in the crystal clear waters so this lake is not for the squeamish :-)

Depending on what season you are attempting the lake be sure to scavenge for wild cranberries which are in abundance and boil yourself an evening cup of pine needle/cranberry tea !  I have also read reports of a ranger cabin that can be found through one of the trails but have not confirmed this myself.  The damn at the nothern end of the lake is also worth exploring but it seems to have drive in access so i would avoid camping here unless you are prepared to share your site with the kind of people who don't mind leaving their garbage and empty beer cans behind for others to clean up.

Conclusion: For a quick paddle or a kid friendly 1-2 day trip that still offers a wilderness feeling Card Lake won't disapoint.



Canoeing Gaspeareau Lake Nova Scotia, Gaspereau Lake Canoe Trip

Posted by Steven on May 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (4)

Where: Gaspereau Lake, near Kentville, NS


Put in: "Welton landing" Small public boat lauch near South Mountain Park Family Camping & RV Resort


Size: N/A


Description:  Gaspereau Lake is a lake in Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada, about 10 km south of the town of Kentville, Nova Scotia on the South Mountain. It is the largest lake in Kings County, and the fifth largest lake in Nova Scotia.  The lake is shallow with dozens of forested islands and hundreds of rocky islets (skerries).


The water level of the lake is controlled by Nova Scotia Power. At the natural outlet to the Gaspereau River, in the north-east corner of the lake, there is a control dam and fish ladder. Another control dam at the south-east corner of the lake controls outflow to a canal which diverts water to Hydroelectricity stations on the lower sections of the Gaspereau River system. 


Remoteness: Not Very from my experiance


Camping: plenty to find - lots of cottages


Fishing: Bass and perch


Interesting facts: Development of the surrounding lakes means previous access to other lakes may no longer be accessible.


Wild life: N/A

Our attempt at canoeing Gaspereau lake started with a wild goose chase.   I had found some information online i believe through a local fishing site that indicated i could get to Gaspereau through four mile Lake.  The provider of this post had listed the GPS coordinates to the four mile lake put in which i happily plugged into the GPS.  Our route took us into into the many unnamed back roads of Nova Scotia many of us paddlers have been on which within minutes rendered the GPS obsolete.  The resulting lost hours driving up and down these roads trying to find four mile lake culminated in us finally passing some hunters who informed us that due to pending developement in the area four mile lake was only accessible by portaging through the woods (no trails) about 2km  With my mother, two kids, and 86lb canoe this was ruled out as an option even though we could clearly see four mile lake on the horizon.

Finally, we opted for the more well known put in of Welton landing and after our initial misadventure we were in the water.  Gaspereau is a very large lake with many smaller and large islands which will amost certainly result in confusion for the weekend warrior or anyone not equipped with a map/compass.  Being slightly ill equipped for this and having wasted precious daylight destroying my mini van up and down the back roads we opted to simply paddle straight accross the lake from the put in and traverse the left hand side of the lake.  The result was a semi private camp out on an island, the opposite side of the island had a view of a cottaging family a stones throw away and a view of the highway on the other end.  Fishing and swimming was good although I cannot say that in our location we experianced any type of wilderness camping.

Conclusion:  The size and layout make this lake difficult to navigate.  Before heading out get yourself a TOPO or map out where you plan to canoe or get some local advice. Be prepared to contend with local boaters and cottagers and do not expect to experiance a true "wilderness" trip.


Canoeing Panuke Lake Nova Scotia, Panuke Lake Canoe Trip

Posted by Steven on May 19, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (3)

Where: Panuke Lake, Windsor NS

Put in: Public boat launch at end of "Panuke Road" / Unofficial Boat launch 

Size: Approximately 30 km's

Description: One of the longest lakes in Nova Scotia this is a real gem of a lake for wildeness canoeing just outside Windsor, NS

Remoteness: First half of lake cottage lined, second half more remote.  Motor boats active before evening

Camping: Hard to find due to tree line coming almost up to the water but you will find some nice spots.

Fishing: Trout and bass (only ever caught bass from the shore myself)

Interesting facts:

  • Rumour has it there is an abondoned cottage at the end of the lake free to use. 


  • After the boat launch when you hit the power lines you can continue to the end of the lake by sticking to the righr BUT venturing to the left (40 minute detour) will take you to the "Gazebo Rock" buit by the panuke lake familes - it is free to us on a small island and very cool - there was even a donation box with 40-50 in lonnies and toonies - Paddlers and boaters are honest people !

Wild life: Loons, snakes, Coyotes (heard them on last trip)

Ever since moving to Nova Scotia in 2011 my boys and i have made an annual trip down Panuke Lake (Pawn-uck as the locals call it) due to it's semi remoteness and just overall beauty.  I have canoed several Algonquin Park Lakes and Keji and after a few hours on Panuke, especially once the cottages thin out about 1/2 way down and after the motor boats have retired for the evening, the remoteness and tranquility found on Panuke is magestic and you will hardly notice you are just 20 minutes from Halifax.

Starting at the public boat launch at the end of Panuke Road this 30 km lake, the longest in Nova Scotia, the boys and I usually paddle down the right side of the lake sticking close to shore to avoid boater traffic and swells however once you hit the power lines if you detour left you will find "Gazebo rock" a free use gazebo built on a small island with BBQ, bench, seats and a donation box for the upkeep of the gazebo - COOL and worth checking out.  At 30 km this lake takes me and my boys approximately 6-8 hours depending on our motivation but we traditionally make camp about 2 hours into our paddle as we have a preferred spot we like to think of as "our own".  About 1:30 to 2 hours in depending on your pace the Nova Scotia power lines crossing the lake will indicate your 1/2 to 1/3 mark and a bit of thinning out of the cottages.  

Panuke sports the typical Nova Scotia shore line, tree's and rock lined almost right to the waters edge meaning camping spots will take the keen eye of your spotter but there are many to be had.  From camp the views are breath taking and the lake becomes tranquil at night allowing you to relax around your camp fire, swim during the day, and catch some nice sized bass rom shore. 

Rumour has it there is an abandoned cotage "free" for use for the weary paddler but i have not personally confirmed this.

Conclusion: Panuke Lake is a must paddle for any Paddler who has yet to experiance it and although cottage and boater heavy still has a wilderness element that is becoming more and more rare in Nova Scotia.