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French River

French River Provincial Park


A wide variety of bird species are found along the river. Forest songbirds like Blackburnian Warblers and Red-eyed Vireos are often heard and seen in the towering pines right around the visitor centre.


Rentals, dock space and launch facilities are available at multiple private marinas.


French River Canoe Route: multiple days, moderate difficulty
There are multiple routes along the French River from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay and interconnecting routes with the Restoule and Little French Rivers. Paddling upstream and downstream is possible in non-flood conditions.

During flooding (usually in early spring), the river at some locations can be 4 m higher than times of low flows. Recollet Falls in the French River Gorge has no passable portage during periods of high flows such as spring runoff.

River access is available through numerous locations along the river. Otter Bay is the only access point located within French River Provincial Park. All other access to the park is through private businesses or public boat launches. Parking and ramp fees are in addition to backcountry camping fees as these locations are not within the park. Ontario Parks is not responsible for any additional fees incurred or the hours of operation at these privately owned access points.

For information on current water flows contact the park at 705-857-1630 (May to October).

Common Canoe Route Information

Route: Restoule/French River
Access Points: Restoule P.P.
Distance: 72km
# Days: 4-6
# Portages/Longest: 10/900m
Points of Interest: Restoule Bay, Chaudière Dams
Notes: Restoule Park permits must be purchased in addition to French River permits.

Route: Okikendawt Island Loop
Access Points: Riverview Cottages, Otter Bay
Distance: 42km
# Days: 3-5
# Portages/Longest: 3/510m
Points of Interest: Five Finter Rapids, Chaudière Dams
Notes: Camping on Reserve land prohibited.

Route: 18 Mile Island Loop
Access Points: French River main channel east of Hwy 69, Dry Pine Bay, Wolseley Bay
Distance: 77km
# Days: 4-6
# Portages/Longest: 90/420m
Points of Interest: Cross Island, Haystack Islands, Owls Head
Notes: French River North Channel is Crown land and doesn't require permits

Route: 4 Mile Island loop
Access Points: French River Supply Post
Distance: 9km
# Days: 1
# Portages/Longest: none

Route: 14 Mile Island loop
Access Points: French River Supply Post, Smith Marina
Distance: 62km
# Days: 3-4
# Portages/Longest: 4/400m
Points of Interest:Recollet Falls, Alligator Boat near Tinnerman's Rock, Site 626 (904) glacial pothole, White Cross
Notes:Can be shortened to 48km by omitting Cantin Island.

Route: Figure 8 loop
Access Points: Hartley Bay Marina
Distance: 36km
# Days: 3
# Portages/Longest: 3/280m
Points of Interest: Dalles Rapids, Alligator Boats, Copananning town site, French River village
Notes: Bass Lake portage no longer has a tramway. It is split into 2 short portages.

Route: Old Voyageur Channel
Access Points: Hartley Marina Bay
Distance: 63km
# Days: 4-5
# Portages/Longest: 3/50m
Points of Interest: Voyageur channel, Bad River rapids
Notes:Bass Lake portage no longer has a tramway. It is split into 2 short portages.

Route: Bustard Islands
Access Points: Key River
Distance: 62km (return from Key River)
# Days: 4-6
# Portages/Longest: none
Points of Interest: Shiny Rock, Bustard Island Lighthouse, Sunken commercial fishing boat

Route: Grundy Lake route
Access Points: Grundy Lake Park Gatehouse
Distance: 14km (one way)
# Days: 1-2
# Portages/Longest: 7/660m
Points of Interest: Can connect to French River's 14 Mile Island loop in under 15km.
Notes: Grundy Lake permits must be purchased separately for campsites in Grundy Lake Park.

Discovery Program

The French River Visitor Centre tells the stories of this historic waterway in the “Voices of the River” exhibit hall. Various interpretive panels, displays and interactive exhibits take the visitor along the length of the river and through time.

Themes include the First Peoples, the Explorers, French Fur Traders and Missionaries, the Canadian Fur Trade, and the French River Today.


Walleye, Small-mouth Bass, and Northern Pike are just a few of the fish species that are found in the river. Fishing is a very popular activity at over 50 lodges and marinas along the French River.


Recollet Falls Trail: 3 km, moderate (linear trail, 1.5km each way)
This trail begins at the Visitor Centre and follows the edge of the French River Gorge, and ends at the historic Recollet Falls. The short portage around the falls has been walked by generations of First Nations, famous explorers, hardy Voyageurs, fur traders and missionaries.


Yes except in the nature reserve zone.


Yes, but no designated beaches.