Great Canadian RIVERS 


Take a Hike Along the Meythe Portage
Follow in the footsteps of voyageurs who crossed the legendary Methye Portage on their way to the lucrative fur trading lands of the Arctic waterways. A landing on the lower Clearwater, just east of the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, marks the uphill climb to the historic trail, where wagon wheel ruts are still visible in the deeply worn path. Backtrack from Rendezvous Lake, midway along the 20 kilometre trail, to view the panorama of the Clearwater Valley as it looked to explorer Peter Pond in 1778.

Careening Along the Clearwater
For 19th century voyageurs, laden with heavy pelts and bulky supplies, the rapids, waterfalls and rock canyons of the upper Clearwater River held little charm. But for today's experienced, well-equipped whitewater canoeists, the often turbulent ride through the boulder gardens and foamy chutes of this fast-flowing waterway is nothing short of spectacular.

Water in the Wild: Clearwater canoeing is a genuine northern wilderness adventure. Only one road, Highway 955, crosses the river at Warner Rapids - a 7 hour drive from the central Saskatchewan city of Saskatoon. Float place access is limited to a few sections of flat water, campsites are rudimentary and other services on the river are minimal. Though its amenities are few, the Clearwater's supply of fresh air, clear water, abundant wildlife and dramatic scenery is limitless.

While intermediate paddlers will enjoy the broad, meandering sections of the lower Clearwater, as it crosses the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta, upriver paddlers will need top-notch skills to navigate the Class II and Class IV rapids.

The rapids just below Lloyd Lake, near the river's northern headwaters, are among the most challenging, running through a small, narrow streambed with several holes and washovers. Canoeists travelling the full length of the river will need to make up to 14 portages. Mid to late summer is the ideal time to run the Clearwater River, when peak flows have subsided and there is a greater potential for lining difficult sections.

Clearwater Provincial Park
The Saskatchewan portion of the Clearwater River is protected by its designation as a 224,035 hectare wilderness park. Park services include a provincially-operated campground near Highway 955, at the Warner River Rapids.

Skull Canyon and Smoothrock Falls: The waters of the upper Clearwater twist and turn between the limestone cliffs of a massive glacial spillway. Below Warner Rapids, a popular put-in point, Granite Gorge, Smoothrock Falls and Skull Canyon - a jagged, rock-walled gorge split in two by a huge boulder island - are heart-revving highlights on a thrilling ride through the deep Clearwater valley.

Fish and Wildlife: Clearwater canoeists can look forward to the delights of otter observation and pan-fried pike. Moose, muskrats, deer, black bears, lynx and fox, gulls, terns, herons, bitterns and bald eagles populate the river's banks, and walleye, arctic grayling and northern pike are in plentiful supply. Sport angling is permitted.

Putting In and Taking Out
The Clearwater River totals 295 kilometres in length and runs southeast from its headwaters at Broach Lake. It then takes an abrupt westward turn at Careen Lake, heading across the Saskatchewan-Alberta border and ending in Fort McMurray at its confluence with the Athabasca River. Along the way, there are several popular put-in and take-out points on the river:

River Rafting on the Clearwater
If you want to experience the adrenalin rush of the swirling Clearwater rapids without the advanced skills needed to steer a canoe, consider a guided trip in a sturdy, eight-person rubber raft. While helmets and top-quality personal flotation devices are mandatory, river running experience is not. A sleeping bag, good raingear and a keen sense of adventure are all that are needed on your choice of upper or lower Clearwater rafting runs.

•Canoeists wishing to paddle most the river usually begin at Gibson Bay at the eastern end of Lloyd Lake, just south of the river's headwaters. Access is by floatplane, and a full-length trip to Fort McMurray will take anywhere from 12 to 21 days.
• Floatplane access is available further down the river, where the Virgin River joins the Clearwater at Careen Lake.
• The river can be reached by road, where Highway 955 to Cluff Lake crosses the river at Warner Rapids, about 65 kilometres northeast of the community of La Loche.
• Floatplane access is available at the Clearwater side of the historic Meythe Portage, 20 kilometres the northern end of Lac La Loche.
• For those not wishing to continue all the way to Fort McMurray, there is a take-out with floatplane access at White Mud Falls, just across the Alberta border.