Please note - low water levels and a number of fallen trees have made this route particularly hard. Thorncrest Outfitters does not recommend this river system for paddling but the information below is for historic record.
The Rankin River provides a leisurely 18 kilometre trip from
Sky Lake to Sauble Falls Provincial Park. The route winds through
a chain of shallow, weedy lakes bordered by wet woodlands and
marsh. A control dam is located on the lower reaches of the
river to maintain water levels. Below the dam, the Rankin assumes
a well defined river channel. Two short sections of rapids are
encountered, which must be lined or portaged in times of low
Wildlife viewing opportunities are good. Various species such
as common loon, black tem, wood duck, painted turtle, and beaver
can often be observed. Sports fishing opportunities are also
good for bass, pike, pickerel and perch. Rainbow and brown trout,
and salmon species occur in the lower Rankin during their respective
spring and fall spawning runs. Check the fishing regulations summary for specific seasons.
Canoeing conditions along the Rankin River are affected by
natural processes and undergo continual change. This information
is of a general nature only and should not be considered
as a detailed guide of the actual conditions you may encounter.
Remember that canoeing can be a dangerous activity. Be sure
to take the necessary precautions when planning your trip. Detailed
river topographical map may be purchased from some Thorncrest Outfitters.
SKY LAKE TO SAUBLE FALLS
Total Time: 5-7 hours Distance: 18 km
Note: The times listed are typical for mid-summer. Actual times
will vary according to the canoeist's ability and water conditions.
First Section: 7 kilometers - 2 hours
Access and parking for the start of this route is on the South
side of Red Bay-Mar Road. The river leads to Isaac Lake and
eventually to Bruce County Road 13 through shallow waters rich
in aquatic plants. Parking, picnic and toilet facilities are
provided at the Isaac Lake Access Point and at the old bridge
on Bruce County Road 13.
Second Section - Bruce Rd 13 To Rankin Dam
7 kilometres - 2 hours
The river soon leads to Boat Lake, a lake to be reckoned with
on windy days. Flooded woodland at both ends of the lake tells
the story of higher water levels since completion of the dam.
A marker at the southern end of the lake indicates the outlet
of the Rankin River. From this point, the river meanders through
flooded woodland to the Rankin Dam.
Section Three - Rankin Dam to Sauble Falls
4 kilometres - 1.5 hours
Below the dam, the river follows a narrow, shallow channel.
Sand dunes of former glacial Lake Algonquin provide well drained
soils for the heavy mixed forest flanking the route. Evidence
of beaver activity is encountered as often several dams are
present. During times of low water two sets of rapids must be
lined or portaged. Saw logs, remnants of timbering years ago,
are visible on the bottom. Biting insects can often be a problem
in this section. Sauble Falls is located just downstream from
the confluence of the Rankin and Sauble Rivers. Exit on the
left bank upstream from the bridge.
Located at the waist of the Bruce Peninsula, sections of the
present day canoe route were utilized for hundreds of years
by Indians traveling between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. Missionaries
and early settlers also used the route to avoid the long, perilous
journey by water around the Bruce Peninsula. Lumbering reached
the area in the 1860's. Square timber and saw logs were floated
down the Rankin River to Lake Huron. Twenty years later, the
steamer "Water Witch" towed rafts of saw logs from Sky, Isaac,
and Boat Lakes towards the mill at Sauble Falls. In an attempt
to reclaim possible agricultural land, a 1921 drainage project
was abandoned when the soil was found to be unworkable. In 1961,
the Sauble Valley Conservation Authority constructed a dam on
the lower Rankin River to control the wildly fluctuating lake
levels and to restore the valuable wetland habitat for increased
Camping along the canoe route is encouraged only at Sauble
Falls Provincial Park. In addition, several private campgrounds
are located nearby
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