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Black River (Washago)

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Introduction

The Black River near Washago, Ontario, is a fun Class I learning river, as there are a lot of easy rapids with large eddies, a number of small easy surf waves. It is drop and pool in nature, with most rapids being very short Class I to Class II. The last rapid on the whitewater section, Pinky's, is sometimes rated Class II+ or Class III at high water. All rapids are easily scouted and can be bypassed.

Access

The usual whitewater section flows through what used to be a campground owned and operated by the local First Nations, the Chippewas of Rama. Take note that much of the riverside property is private, particularly in the upper section through the campground. Please stay off the shoreline, particularly the river right shore.


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Put in

The most common access point is where Highway 169 crosses the river. Starting from Toronto, to reach the put-in, head up Highway 400 past Barrie, and follow Highway 11 where it splits off just past Georgian College. Continue along Highway 11 past Orillia to the exit for Washago and Highway 169 South. Follow Hwy 169 through the village of Washago. You will cross the river channels several times. After about 5km you will pass Switch Rd. on the right and a school on the left. You will approach a over the bridge over the Black River, which is the usual put in. Park well over on the shoulder before crossing the river. This is often a very busy road so stay well over and be careful when walking around the vehicle.

Take out

The most commonly used take out point is where McMillan Sideroad crosses the river. From the put-in at the bridge head south on Hwy 169 approximately 500m to Consession Road 5. Turn right onto Concession Rd 5. Approximately 1km from the highway the road takes a 90-degree turn to the right. About 1.2km after this bend the road meets the river and twists left then right again. Shortly after this you will cross a single-lane steel bridge. This is the take-out spot. There is parking on the North side of the bridge.

Length of run

The typical run is about 3.5km through a series of islands and channels. By portaging or attaining back up the various channels the run can be stretched out to just about any length you desire.

Rapids

When you put in at the Hwy 169 bridge, there are some small waves and eddies to catch immediately downstream of the bridge. Following this there a section of flat but moving water, that continues as the river bends to the right. Just around the corner there is a small swift, followed by another small rapid. At some water levels there are couple of small surf waves here. There are several small rapids and surf waves as the water continues toward the campground. At the campground, the river splits into three channels, and each channel passes under a wooden bridge. At high water, the water comes up close to the bottom of some of the bridges. Each channel has a variety of rapids to play in. Below the campground the three channels meet again, and there is another section of flatwater. The river picks up again and bends to the right, just before splitting into several channels again. The river left most channel has a fun rapid called Bellringer.

Water levels

The current level for this river can be found through the Environment Canada Real-Time Hydrometric Data site, gauge 02EC002 Black River at Washago.

Low flow (ledges mostly or completely dry) is 7.76m (12cms).

High flow (features washed out) is 8.7m (59cms). When the Black River is at high flow or washed out the nearby Head River is usually at a good running level.

A visual check is to look for the three rocks just downstream of the Hwy 169 bridge. If no rocks are showing then it is likely washed out. If one or two, even three, are just showing above the water then most features will be in.

See also

  • Topographical map 31D11
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