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Grand River (Elora Gorge)

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The body of water described in this article is at risk. Further information may be found on the discussion page page.



The gorge is a beautiful run that can be paddled all year round. It is a gentle Class II/Class III at summer levels with the chute the only CIII rapid. As the levels get higher with rain or in the spring, the water gets higher and some fun holes start to appear. Higher still and the gorge becomes CIV with some sticky holes that can produce some awesome play. Although the lines are fairly straightforward as it is a gorge, it can be a long swim and with the spring cold and high sides, rescues can be tricky. For spring runs, dress for cold water swimming and rescues.


Map of putin & takeout

Put in

The putin is at Ross St in Elora at the Tooth of Time Falls.

Take out

The takeout is at the obvious low bridge in the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. Please note that this takeout is only open when the Conservation Area is open. Off Season (Nov-April) a short walk up the hill river right, you can access the road by a small fence hop.


Drimmie Dam

The Drimmie Dam is the first possible drop. The dam has been condemned but has been run a couple of times that I know of. It is very steep and has rebar sticking out of it in many places. Someone snagged on rebar would have trouble being rescued. You would have to run the tooth of time if you ran the dam.

Tooth of Time

The falls above the tooth of time are runnable but it is rarely done. It is shallow at the bottom with lots of rocks. Usually there are logs and other debris littering the run. The worse danger is that there is lots of rebar sticking out of the dam this could puncture a boat and cause an entrapment.

Tooth of time: Usually ran from 6- 30 feet. 6 feet is very low and you will leave a lot of boat plastic on the drop. 30 feet is very high. I’ve ran it once at 32 feet and got stuffed under the undercut ledge on the right at the bottom. It is a relatively straight forward drop but there have been a number of injuries here (two dislocated shoulders, a mild concussion and people trapped in the strong eddy on river right). If you flip on your way down, you are going to get hurt. This instruction is for running under 15 feet. If you are going to run it higher than that you are good enough to figure out your own line.

You can choose to run the Tooth of time, a shallow steep rocky slide or walk the path to the cove for the put in. To put in for the Tooth walk along the wall to the ladder and climb down. Most people run the left side of the tooth about 6-8 feet to the left of the tooth. It is not unusual to catch air partway down. At the very bottom there is a rock in the hole. Many boats and been dented and cracked here. Try to lift the front of your boat for the last part. If you choose to run the right side, there is a rock halfway down that pinned a boat and caused a broken foot. That was years ago and he was paddling a dancer.

It is possible to run right of the tooth but there was a rock there that broke one boaters foot. Running left, you can run one or two boat lengths off the tooth.Two boat lengths is a smoother ride, one boat length will have you catch a little air but will line you up at the bottom better. Running straight down is ok but there is a rock in the hole at the bottom that has dented every boat I own. If you run a little bit right just before the bottom hole you can avoid the rock.

There is a surf spot on river left at most levels. Fun for beginners at low levels. On river left there is the hydro hole. Fun for playboaters. It is shallow and sticky. Be careful if you have a long, big boat. It likes to hold bigger boats and canoes. Most people who swim stand up in the backwash. The hole at the bottom is great for practicing surfs and spins at low water. At higher water it is a great gutsy surf that will blast you in the face as water purls over the front of your boat and makes it hard to see. Lots of fun.

Moving downstream you pass the normal put in for the river. Past the island there is a great sport for beginners practicing ferries and more advanced boaters to learn stern squirts and eddy line moves.

Downstream is the cove put in. We usually run left of the island. There are fun eddies to paddle into and out of on the way down. Past the island on the left is a spot for eddy practice, bow stalls and stern squirts. This is also where Irvine joins the river.

The Chute

The Chute at summer levels

Further down there is class two water up until the chute. Before you get to the chute there is an S bend rapid with small surfs at higher water there is a nice steep front surf. No eddy, you have to catch it on the fly. Best way to catch it is to start on the right and grab a shoulder wave over to the wave.

The chute has a few features. There is an ender spot at low water that is good for loops, cartwheels and the occasional phonics monkey. Running the chute at low water, the run is to the left. It is fast shallow water and the toughest drop at low water. At 20-40 there is a sticky hole in the middle of the chute called Steve’s hole. It’s rare to get stopped by it but has held swimmers for long swims. Plenty of surf spots as the river continues higher. 75 and above the waves and holes become big and trashy. Scouting can be done on the right but you will be in water up past your knees.

The chute: At low water there is an ender hole at the top followed but a class three chute. This is shallow and fast with some rapids that catch the edge of your boat. If you are new to the river you may want to check it out first.

At medium water 25-45 there is a hole in the middle of the chute called Steve's hole. It is easy to miss but if you hit it just right it will kick your ass. Evidently only if your name is Steve. It has held people out of their boat and scared the crap out of them. They thought they were going to drown.

At high water (80-200+) there are a number of surfs on the approach on the right. The run is usually left. At all levels you can run two boat lengths off the left shore and run straight down in the middle of the run work right to avoid stick hole (the crippler).

The move is to run left and catch the right hand eddy in the chute. From here you can check out the stick hole and decide whether it is a good level to surf. Also above stick hole is another great front surf. The downside is that you end up in stick hole when you come off the wave.

You can run all the way down the right but the hole on the right can be sticky and steep. Also the right side is where logs tend get hung up. If someone swims here get them off to the left fast. There is a long eddy and you can collect people, boat and paddle. Wait too long an the boat and owner are in for a long swim.

On the way to the high bridge there are surf waves that just keep getting better as the river rises. Under the bridge there is a fantastic surf wave that is really good from the 40-70 range.

High Bridge

The high bridge is next. From 40 - 60 it is a wave like garb on the Ottawa. Great place for fun, catch the eddy on the right fast or you will have to walk back up to it. It is worth it.

At low water there is some front surfing. the approach is on the right and move left just before the bridge.

Troll hole and it generally only comes into play past 100. The run to avoid it is paddling hard to the left under the high bridge. Hitting three diagonal waves that try to push you to the right and into the troll. Hit them angled left and paddle hard. At low water there are just some small playspots. 140, it's all there. Buseater eat your heart out.

Past the troll is the punch bowl, a good spot for practicing rolls at low water.

Kurt's Corner

Next drop is Kurts corner an S bend rapid with a rock on the right at low water. Some people go straight over the rock and catch some air. Some people get hurt doing that. There are some fun waves after that. At all level the run is right past the punch bowl. This is called Kurts corner. At low water watch out of the rock on the right. You can boof it but stay upright.

The rest of the river is class 2 for the most part. Just watch for downed trees, broach rocks etc. There is one more place to practice eddy moves. Head down to the low bridge for take out. This bridge has 3' of clearance at low water. This is easy to miss, people have screwed up here and got sucked under the bridge. They made it through but there is a definite chance that a person could get stuck under the bridge and drown. Just be aware that it is there.

Length of run

The run take 2-3 hours at low levels and gets shorter as the levels increase. Over 100 it can take around 30 minutes to get from top to bottom.

Water levels

The current level for this river can be found through the Grand River Conservation Authority site, "Elora Gorge.

Summer Low, <10 cms: The rapids are pretty shallow but there are plenty of eddies and a few small waves. The chute is still a fun run at low levels. This is a great beginner level, just check out the tubers.

10-40 cms: At higher levels, there is a bit more cushion on the rocks. Still a great beginner level and there is often a surf wave below the chute.

40-80 cms: As the water level increases the waves get bigger as do the holes. Some are sticky but they are all easily avoidable. Good play at this level below the chute and at high bridge. Scouting is not possible so make sure you know the lines before getting on. There are fewer eddies so have a plan for dealing with swimmers if there are any as it is hard/impossible to paddle/walk back upstream.

80-120 cms: The gorge becomes Ottawa-esque at these big water levels. Below the chute, Crippler hole comes in and can be a great playspot. Downstream at the high bride, Trolls hole also comes in.

120+: Same as above but bigger and higher flows.

See also

The Guelph Kayak Club ( actively paddles the gorge Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings from thaw to freeze and are normally willing to share information or guide paddlers new to the river.

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