4 Days on the Rivere Noire, Quebec

Jun 12, 2012
Appleton, Maine
A few years ago I spent 4 days solo paddling down the Rivere Noire in southern Quebec. The river starts up by LaVerendrye Reserve and drops out into the Ottawa River. Hap Wilson's book "Rivers of the Ottawa Valley" does a great job of mapping out the rapids and falls. This book is really good for finding other trips in the Ottawa valley, which works great for me, I get to visit my childhood friends in the Valley and do a canoe trip close by.

I used Noire Expeditions @ 819 778 6347 for a shuttle. They drove me about 60 miles upstream to a nice little creek that feeds the Noire. We saw a bear run out in front of the truck on the way up, so that was kind of fun.

The river was slow and easy when I reached it from my like put in creek....

I paddled slowly downstream for the day, really enjoying the sites. I came to an easy class 2 in Haps book, but not being a WW paddler and paddling a wood canvas canoe, I choose to look for the portage...opps, no portage here, I held onto a branch for what seemed like hours and finally talked myself into going for it. I was on the wrong side and managed to get right real quick, and the canoe just slid over the wave and shot out into the slack water below.
I looked for a campsite soon after that, the long ride up, the rapid I had to run, and the heat was getting to me and I needed a drink!
My first campsite

Out front of my first campsite

The next morning I was off early after a good nights sleep. I like river travel, but I really miss the vista's you get when camped on a lake. I kept waiting for someone to come downstream to break up the evening...no one showed.
The river meanders slowly for a while before the first set of rapids and sandbars revel alot about the wildlife here. Moose, Whitetail deer, Wolf, snapping turtles, otters, beavers, porcupines, large and small birds all left their tracks.
Wolf tracks

I started to get to the rapids mentioned in Haps book, and I found every portage right where he said it would be. It was almost like cheating, having so much information. Here I'm glad I cheated.

Later in the day I had some canoes catch up to me. It was a group of young Canadian boys with 2 adults in 5 or 6 canoes. The ran most of the rapids and it was clear they knew what they where doing. They even practiced rescue's below one big rapid, it was an amazing display of skill and I was very glad to see young folks so good in open canoes. I watched them run these rapids as they passed me as I portaged. A friendly wave and they where gone. Very impressive and heartwarming to see.

Later in the day I came to Mountain Falls, a 20 foot drop in the river and a must portage. You can take out early and hump 1500 meters up and over a mountain or you can run the rapids at the top of the falls and take a much shorter portage right next to the falls. I choose to run the rapid, nothing really bad, but a ledge required you to move out into the centre of the river and quickly move back to river left for the take out just before a big wave and the falls. To say I was nervous would be putting it mildly, but it really wasn't so bad and I had confidence in my canoe and skills to get it done. Here I am just at the take out above the falls with the rapids behind me.


Here is the wave and top of the falls just below the take out


The portage turned out to be a real goat path and the footing was awful, not to mention the steep rockslide down to the river. I made it in two trips and had to lower the canoe and packs with a rope.

At the bottom of the falls you enter a deep gorge with a few boulders to watch out for. I managed to do fine and noticed to ravens perched up in a dead spruce watching me. No doubt they new more about my skills than I did and where hoping for a free lunch to float down the river.

Soon my confidence rose enough to start running everything I came to....

Until I came to some more big rapids, then I chose to walk the portages again like before.

Soon the fly's where beginning to get to me and the river slowed down enough for me to start catching them and teach them to do tricks. Here I taught a fly to play dead and lay on it's little back:D

I then found the home of my dreams and couldn't wait to get home and show my wife. She was not impressed, but I kept thinking of Janis Joplin and "he's looking for that home and I hope he finds it"

After what seemed like a long stretch of slack water, I entered a valley where the river seemed to pick up speed and just roll downhill. What a ride, the river level was just enough for me to float over large rocks and speed downstream.

The Noire is a fine river, close to lots of folks in the northeast. Even if your not a real river/white water paddler, the portages are easy enough to get downstream without to much concern. You just need to know your location on the river at all times and the book will steer you right.
Feb 1, 2013
Thanks for posting Robin. Always been curious about this region. Like your tarp rigged up on the beach site.
Jun 12, 2012
Appleton, Maine
Scott, I think it was late June, I can't remember the exact dates or year...ugh! But no black flies or mosquitoes to speak of, just my little friends, those horse (?) flys. Had the river been much lower that last stretch thru the valley where I rode over the top of the boulders would have been tricky. It was very hot that week.

Murat, Thanks, I found a couple of broken saplings out behind the site and used them for shade with my old Campmore tarp. It was so hot one night, I left the fly off the tent for air and the mosquitoes covered the mess. I should have brought my Timberline, much better air flow.