Due to a recent knee injury that I am currently trying to get sorted I am unable to hike. However, that won’t stop me from getting outside. This past autumn my girlfriend and I purchased two kayaks as another hobby for us to participate in. With these new rides I will now be posting paddling information and trips to help you get out and experience Saskatchewan from another perspective. Don't worry once my knee heals up I will be hitting the hiking trails again!
Meet the Cruze-A-Palooza
My first trip I am sharing is a classic for anyone who lives in Saskatoon but one that not every may know about; the paddle from Fred Heal Canoe Launch to Saskatoon.
Fred Heal Canoe Launch is located south of Saskatoon on Highway 219 and is managed by the Meewasin Valley Authority. The paddle is roughly 20km from the launch back to Saskatoon. Since you are moving with the current this makes it a nice leisurely paddle back to the city.
Going with the flow
It can take anywhere from two and a half to four hours to complete depending on how hard you paddle and how much “floating along you do.” It is impossible to get lost as you just need to follow the current north back into the city.
When packing for the day make sure you bring the following.
A cell phone (just in case of trouble)
Ziploc bag (these are perfect to keep your phone, wallet and keys a bit more protected)
Sunscreen (there is no shade on the river)
Your hat (see above why)
Food (the trip is long enough that you’ll get hungry by the end)
At least one liter of water per person
A PFD per person
I forgot to put sunscreen on my chest, so I was a little crispy by the end of the day.
Before heading out make sure you complete two simple tasks. The first, check the weather to make sure you aren’t going to end up in a thunderstorm. The second, let someone who isn’t on the trip know where you are going and when you should be back. While there are no rapids along this route, it is good to get in the habit of telling people where you are going. You never know what can happen on the water.
This trip can easily be done solo but is easiest with at least two people and two vehicles. Drop your first vehicle off at either the Saskatoon Canoe Club Boat Launch or Rotary Park. There are other places to end your paddle in Saskatoon but these two provide the easiest exit and entry points.
Fortunately the rain never reached us!
Fred Heal Canoe Launch is located just south of Beaver Creek Conservation Area on Highway 219. Take your first right when heading south past Beaver Creek onto a gravel road. Follow this road for 2.2km. You will come to an intersection marked with a cross sign, turn right and follow it to the end where the parking lot is located.
From the parking lot it is a short walk down to the Fred Heal beach and the South Saskatchewan River. Toss your boat of choice in the silky current and start paddlin’!
Once you get back to Saskatoon load up your boats, drive back to Fred Heal and pick up the vehicle you left there.
Your final step is to have a beer on a patio to celebrate your day well spent.
Back in the city!
What I love about this paddle route is that virtually anyone can do it. You don’t need to be an experienced paddler to complete the trip as the power of the current will keep pushing you home. You just need to keep yourself straight! What I also love is the connection to nature you get. As you paddle you will hear thousands of birds chirping as they fly overhead. If you are lucky and quiet enough, you might see deer and other large animals stopping to take a drink from the cool waters.
You can do this paddle anytime during the summer but it is best done early in the season when the water levels are high. In drought years’ sandbars can be exposed that require you to get out of your kayak or canoe and walk it to deeper waters. This is especially true on the section just south of the city before you hit the Train and Circle South Bridge. This area can get very shallow and will require you to walk a few hundred meters if the water really drops later in August.
There are many beaches, islands and sandbars to stop along the way if you want to stretch your legs and have a picnic. Make sure you pull your boat out of the water so it doesn’t end up downstream without you.
Stopping for a break
If you are looking something to do this weekend grab a friend, beg, borrow or rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard and spend some quality time on the South Saskatchewan River!