SUP Camping 2014: Peterborough to Lakefield on Day 1

Find yourself in the Peterborough area and fancy getting out on the water?  Rent a SUP from Wildrock Outfitters or Peterborough SUP and get out there, both have similar day rates.  With something slightly more ambitious than a day of paddling in mind, I carried my rented SUP down to the water and set off on a 6 day SUP camping trip.


A fountain rises out of Little Lake, in the heart of Peterborough.

It was on Saturday just after noon when I set off from Millenium Park in Peterborough’s downtown, on the edge of the Otonabee River.  From there it was about 35min over to Lock 20 where I picked up a 6 day lock pass ($60).  This allows lock usage for any 4 days over a 6 day period and seemed like it would be the best value for what I had planned, although many other lock pass options are available…

The lock pass is worth it to avoid this one portage around the Peterborough Lift Lock:

The 65ft Peterborough LIft lock

The 65ft Peterborough LIft lock

Heading north up the Trent-Severn Waterway offers an interesting mix of urban, rural and wilderness paddling.  The waterway is quite undeveloped as you slip quietly through town.  It feels immediately like you’re out in the country.

...slipping quietly through town

…slipping quietly through town

Last year I stopped for the night at Lock 24.  It’s a beautifully secluded spot.  Lock 23 isn’t bad either if you’re looking for options.  On this day I paddled on to Lakefield’s Lock 26, about 18km upstream from my put-in.


It was only 530pm as I brought my gear ashore.  Still plenty of light left, but the end of the road for me on this warm and sunny day.  Though my energy level was still good, my hands were shot, even through my new paddling gloves!  This is what I find tough to prepare for.  I made sure to get out on the water a number of times before this outing, but the place in Toronto where I rent offers blades with a palm grip.  The paddle from Wildrock has a T-handle.  A 1st world problem if ever there was one, but my callouses are in the wrong spot…

Getting camp setup early, I found two trees appropriately spaced, and hung my hammock, before wandering through town looking for a place to eat.


On the map above you’ll find Foodland marked off.  This grocer is open 24hrs, so if you want to paddle light on the 1st day, you can pick everything up once you get to Lakefield.  Most of the town’s restaurants can be found along Queen street.  I stuffed myself with a full rack of ribs at the Thirsty Loon before heading back to “camp”.

Camping lock-side is incredibly cheap.  I think they charged me $5!  I suppose you could just show up after the lock has closed and camp for free, but then you don’t get a key to the washroom…  4-5 boats called this lock home for the night also.  It seems a strange place to camp, on the edge of town, next to some boats docked for the night, but it is a quiet spot, quieter than I would have expected…

The 1st day was coming to a close as a full moon rose over head.  Dinner in a restaurant, running water, a washroom.  Didn’t feel quite like camping, but my trip was underway….

Check out Day 2 of my trip.

SUP Camping Trip: Day 1

As I mentioned yesterday, 10km of paddle boarding tends to leave me rather exhausted, so for day 1 of my trip I planned a route up to Lock 24, a distance of 14km with 5 portages.  This I estimated to take about 3hrs.  I would realize later that I really hadn’t thought this through very well…

Day 1: 14km route with 5 portages

Day 1: 14km route with 5 portages, from Wildrock Outfitters in downtown Peterborough to Lock 24 in Douro Township

I left Wildrock Outfitters with my rental SUP around 330pm, walked it the 300m or so over to the river and already I had discovered a bit of a problem with my plan.  These boards, weighing in at around 40lbs are a pain in the butt to carry over any distance.  They have a hand grip in the middle of the board, making for an easy one-handed carry, freeing up your other hand for your paddle.  This is great when you carry it from your rack to the water at the cottage when you’re only going 50ft or so.  After a few hundred meters your forearm is on fire!  Problem #2:  As I was leaving late, most of the locks would be closed as I approached so I figured I would just portage every lock and skip on a Lock pass.  I didn’t think much of it, until I arrived at the mighty Peterborough Lift Lock, my third portage of the day.

Lock 21: The Peterborough Lift Lock

Lock 21: The Peterborough Lift Lock

The Peterborough Lift Lock is huge!  The portage is only about 400m, but it is like walking up an 8 story building twice with 1/2 your gear each time!  Oh well, the view is quite nice once you’re up.  I had already emptied two water bottles paddling here, so I filled up with a hose at the top of the Liftlock and was on my way after enjoying the view for a moment longer.

The steep climb was worth it for the view!

The steep climb was worth it for the view!

The waterway was all mine for the next 11km

The waterway was all mine for the next 11km

The other bonus of late day paddling is that, with the exception of 1 rower and 2 guys fishing, I’d have the waterway to myself for the next 11km.  Once past Lock 21 this urban waterway has a very country feel to it.  There are very few buildings on its shore until you get to Trent University, so you easily feel like you’re in cottage country already.  I had just 2 more portages to go (Lock 22 and 23) and I arrived happily at Lock 24 around 830pm, as the sun was setting, about 90min behind schedule.  The portages had taken a lot out of me.  My forearms were fried from carrying the board over each lock but I would sleep very well that night!  🙂

Stay tuned for Day 2 of my SUP camping trip: