Paddling the Grand River in Turbo Tubes
As 2 busy professionals we do not get the chance to go paddling as much as we’d like to. Thankfully, the Grand River is only 1.5 hours away from the Toronto area and offers every single type of paddling out there. You can try: rafting, a canoe, kayaking, paddle boarding or something new that’s offered from Grand River Rafting Co, ‘Turbo Tubes’!
These Turbo Tubes are a cross between a kayak and an inner tube, you can either float casually like a lazy river or paddle your way down the river. It was our first time in the County of Brant and we were ready for a new adventure.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, or watch this video we filmed floating down the Grand River:
The Grand River runs hundreds of kilometres from Dundalk, Ontario, at it northernmost point, until it empties into Lake Erie in the south. There are many public access points along the Grand River, including several in Paris, however if you don’t have your own canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard or tube, then you can rent one from a local operator.
As you saw from the video, we went paddling with The Grand River Rafting Company. The company was started by the father and son team of Garth and Colin Pottruff and has grown in size and scale ever since then. Today, this seasonal based business which operates from May through October employs over 50 individuals.
We arrived at the meeting point on Saturday morning and were pleasantly surprised to find other paddlers already waiting to check in. We assumed based on past experience that we would be kayaking and found out that we’d be ‘turbo tubing’ instead. This was an activity we had never tried before and just like the Grand River we had to ‘go with the flow’ (see what I did there?).
We were then split into groups according to what type of paddling we would be doing. There was a single stand-up paddle boarder, some kayakers, a group of ladies going rafting as celebration for their friends’ 60th birthday and us. We were then asked to suit up with our life jackets and given the appropriate paddle. For the newbies, there’s a different paddle for each type of activity. We were then told to boarding a small bus which would drive to the upstream launch point so that we could paddle downstream back to where we first arrived and parked our car.
Once we arrived at the launch point in Glen Morris, 9 kilometres away from Paris, Garth gave us an explanation of the turbo tube and its design, a waterproof map which explained our route, a dry bag for our personal belongings as well as a cooler with a picnic style lunch. This was all we needed for our paddle and away we went. Watch here for Garth’s explanation of what a ‘Turbo Tube’ is.
It took a few minutes before we got to used to paddling in a turbo tube and once we felt comfortable we really started to look up and around to appreciate our surroundings. It was very peaceful and felt like we had the river to ourselves for the most part. We occasionally caught up with some other paddlers who were also enjoying some fishing at the same time. We also noticed that currents picked up and slowed down at certain points along the river which meant more or less paddling for us.
After 1.5 hours of paddling we reached Norm’s Island that Garth recommended we stop at and enjoy our picnic style lunch. We were very hungry at this point and needed to refill and refuel ourselves in order to paddle the rest of the way. We paddled over and pulled our tubes up to the shore. Once we found a comfortable spot to sit we opened up the cooler to see what our lunch options were. We were each provided with a salad, sandwich, fruit cup, cookie and a can of pop. The food was very tasty and was just enough to leave us feeling full without any leftovers.
Once we were finished eating we snapped a few more pictures and realized that the natural spring that Garth told us about was directly across the river from us. We paddled over to the natural spring before heading back downstream. On our paddle back we met up with more paddlers on the water. It was great to see people, both young and old, enjoying themselves by paddling at their own pace.
Our exit point, The Three Sisters, are the pillars of an old railway bridge and was very clearly marked with large blue flags and a couple of Grand River Rafting staff were there to welcome us back and assist us in getting out of our tubes. We felt so fortunate that we had a great paddling experience overall, even though we got stuck a couple of times and had to get out of the turbo tube to push ourselves off. We also had such a sense of accomplishment following our first paddling experience of the year.
Cost & Availability
Need to Know Info
- The Glen Morris to Paris stretch of the Grant River could be very shallow. The water was typically ankle-deep at most spots. We know this because we had to get off and manually push ourselves off a rock on several occasions. This can vary during the year however.
- There are no washrooms at the meeting, launch or exit points, however a portable toilet is available for use.
- A dry bag is available for use to store clothing, keys, electronics and other personal belongings that need to remain dry. We highly recommend using these dry bags. It’s also a good idea to bring a ziplock bag for your cell phone.
- We discovered that we had cell service when we stopped for lunch but thankfully did not have to place a SOS call.
- Turbo Tubing is EASY! But there is that blooper of Tony having a hard time getting into the tube.
Paddling along the Grand River makes for a lovely way to get out on the water and spend a morning, an afternoon or a weekend immersed in nature. It can also be as physical or relaxing of an activity as you want it to be. Lastly, you’ll be doing good both for yourself and for the community by supporting a local seasonal business that relies on daytrippers and overnight guests. In our next video and blog, we’ll be showing you some of the places to visit in Brantford, Paris and the Six Nations Territory.
The experience definitely made us realize how much we enjoy paddling and how easy it can become reality thanks to the staff at Grand River Rafting. Whether it be a canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard or turbo tube we highly recommend that if you want to go paddling then make it a priority, set the date, time and make a reservation to #PaddleTheGrand.
Have any photos or videos of your visit that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.