Red Toque Multi-Adventure

Part of the Voyageur Cycling Route

Travelling over land and by water through the force of one’s own power, the Red Toque Tour offers outdoor enthusiasts an iconic Canadian multi-adventure that includes cycling, paddling and hiking experiences located on the traditional lands and sacred waterways of the Anishinaabe and Métis peoples.


Roll along quiet paved and gravel roads and bask in the freedom of the endless skies of Northern Ontario’s rugged Canadian Shield wilderness; paddle back in time on a heritage river and discover her hidden sites; follow in the footsteps of Indigenous peoples and fur traders along historic hiking trails and portage routes.

The Red Toque Multi-Adventure can be approached in various ways – consider dedicating one day to each activity over a weekend or combining different activities for a unique day’s adventure, for example, cycling and hiking, or paddling and biking. 

Bikepackers looking to go the distance on a multi-day excursion can opt to do the Red Toque Tour as a loop, cycling one way and paddling, portaging, camping and hiking back. Check out the Outfitters and Guides section below for assistance with gear, and see our Google map or Accommodations section for campsites and places to stay along the way.


For detailed cycling information see our 86 km Red Toque Tour Cycling Experience


The Mattawa River

One of the most captivating features of this Canadian Heritage River is its rich history, a tapestry of peoples and cultures. Indigenous peoples paddled and portaged these waters for thousands of years before welcoming the first French fur traders in the 16th century, after which the river became the main fur trade route west for centuries.

The land and water features rival the river’s history – waterfalls, rapids, eddies, peaceful flatwater and inland lakes; pre-Cambrian granite cliffs, ridges formed by glacial moraines and shores lined with white and red pine, balsam fir and hemlock.

Must-see Sites

Six-metre waterfalls will greet you at Paresseux Falls, and take you back in time as you trek on portages trodden upon for thousands of years.  Gaze in awe at the rapids, the chutes and the sheer height of the 70-foot granite cliffs at Talon Gorge. Be at peace on multiple flatwater lakes like Turtle and Pine Lake with their echoes of loon calls. Gaze into an ancient Indigenous Ochre Mine from the water and be transported back in time.

Skill-level Required – Beginner to Advanced

The river is accessible to almost any skill level during the summer months. The current is generally calm and the mix of river and flatwater lakes allow for easy paddling, while swifts, rapids and whitewater appeal to those with the experience and skill, all of which can be easily bypassed using the adjacent portages.

Most portages are easy to moderate, with none longer than 500 m; there are one or two steep, rocky and more challenging portages, most notably the 280 m Portage de Talon and the 160 m boulder-strewn Portage des Roches.

Note that during the spring melt-off, water levels will be much higher and currents faster leading to more rapids, whitewater and near-freezing water temperatures. When water levels are low, more submerged rocks will appear closer to the surface, so keep an eye out for rocks.

All boat safety laws must be followed for your and your family’s protection.

Suggested Routes

The Mattawa River flows east and stretches for 65 km between North Bay on Lake Nipissing and the town of Mattawa (which in Algonquin means “the meeting of the waters”), where it meets up with the Ottawa River.

The route options are many, but here are a few popular routes. There are 13 well-established portages from Mattawa to Trout Lake to avoid swifts and rapids. See our map for detailed descriptions of each portage.

  • Olmstead Park launch on Trout Lake to Explorer’s Point, Mattawa – 65 km, 3-5 days.
  • Samuel de Champlain Park to Mattawa – 38 km, 3-4 days.
  • Blanchard’s Landing to Chant Plein Lake – 25 km, 2-3 days.
  • Pimisi Bay to Campion Rapids – 7 km – 1/2 day
  • Pimisi Bay to Paresseux Falls – 4 km, 1-2 hours
  • Pimisi Bay to Talon Chutes – 2 km, 1 hour * head west, upriver

La Vase Portages Canoe Routes

The La Vase Portages, ‘la vase’ meaning “muddy”, is a 14 km section of the historic Voyageur canoe route connecting the Mattawa River system to Lake Nipissing, meandering southwest from Dugas Bay in Trout Lake.

Algonquin Park Northwest Access Points

Escape the noise and traffic at the busy southern access points on Hwy. 60. The Northwest section of Algonquin Park is lesser-known by non-locals but is equally if not more fantastic due to the authentic and quieter backcountry experience.

There are two access points in the Northwest that are accessible from one of our Voyageur Cycling Route experiences and offer accommodations and outfitters: Kiosk (Access Point #29) and Kawawaymog (Access Point #1).

Kiosk Campground

Head south at Hwy 630 on the Red Toque Tour Cycling Experience from Peddlers Road near Eau Claire. Ride your bike right to your campsite. Plan ahead and rent canoes or kayaks from Algonquin North Outfitters who will deliver your watercraft to Kiosk.  Two popular routes explore Kioshkokwi Lake, Maple Lake, Whitebirch Lake and Mink Lake.

Kawawaymog Lake

Head east off Chemical Road towards Kawawaymog Lake on our Old Nipissing Road bikepacking experience. Book accommodations, rent watercraft or take a guided trip with this full-service outfitter Voyageur Quest Outfitting located right at the access point. For an epic paddle, try the North Tea Lake Loop which is 105 km with 21 portages and takes 8-9 days or one of these popular routes.


Don’t miss the spectacular Eau Claire Gorge. The trailhead is approximately 1 km off the main road leading to a short hike that takes you to the top of the towering cliffs where the Amable du Fond River thunders through the narrow gorge flowing north from Algonquin Park.

The Etienne Trails System at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is a set of 4 trails, from 2.5 – 9 km and increasingly challenging, through rocky hills to beaver ponds and along high ridges beside Long Lake.

The La Vase Portages Hiking Trails cross the watershed divide between Trout Lake-Mattawa River and Lake Nipissing. This area was infamous amongst the voyageurs as the “mud” river with approximately 7km of “land” travel was thought to be the most difficult in the entire cross-country route. Today, the La Vase Portages Conservation Area provides access to the historic route.

The Stepping Stones Trails are a popular and informal, but well-marked network of rocky and rooty hiking trails leading to inland lakes and wetlands on crown land within the Mattawa River Provincial Park.


The region is steeped in a human history dating back millennia. With a history so grand there are no end of discoveries around every corner.


North Bay Museum

The North Bay Museum has been preserving and sharing North Bay’s history since 1973 and is located in downtown North Bay within the historic Canadian Pacific Railway Station. Built in 1903, the station was restored in 2004 to house the museum.

Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufrense Gallery

Located in the former home and practice of Dr. Dafoe the Callander Museum showcases the story of the Dionne Quintuplets, and other histories of the area such as the logging industry, shipping on Lake Nipissing, geology and more.

Explorer's Point & Mattawa Museum

Explorer’s Point is a historically significant site where the Mattawa River flows into the Ottawa River, this “meeting of the waters” was a common stop for First Nations including the Hurons, the Nipissing, the Algonquin and the Iroquois. In the era of the fur trade and voyageurs, the site became significant with a trading post established by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Explorer’s Point is now the home to the Mattawa Museum a beautiful red pine log building that commemorates this important history.

Mattawa River Visitor Centre

Located at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, the Visitor Center showcases the area’s natural and human history with a variety of exhibits. It features a large birch bark freighter canoe, replicating the vessels built and used by the voyageurs in search of beaver pelts to trade in Montreal, as they traveled the 2000km journey to Fort William on Lake Superior.

The Three Crosses

Three large white crosses stand high on the crest of the Laurentians on the Quebec side of the river. Historical records show that in 1686, a group of French explorers and missionaries led by Sieur de Troyes were on expedition to James Bay to seize English settlements. While traveling up the Ottawa River they marked the place where the two rivers meet by erecting the three crosses.

Wooden Statues

The Wooden Statues of Mattawa are 22 carved wooden statues standing tall throughout Mattawa and the area. They represent historical figures and notable characters from the region’s colourful past.


Voyageur Multi-Use Trails

Discover the VMUTS – over 300km of remote backcountry logging roads frequented by gravel cyclists, ATVs and horseback riders.


Algonquin North Outfitters

Algonquin North Outfitters Hire local guides, rent paddling and camping equipment with free delivery to Kiosk in Algonquin Park. Self-guided trips from Pimisi Bay to Campion Rapids in Samuel de Champlain Park.

Boathouse Rental Co.

The Boathouse Rentals is located in North Bay’s downtown waterfront, rent kayaks and SUPs to tour Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake, and even South River if you’ve got the whole day.

Nature Bound Guided Tours

Nature Bound helps connect people to the natural world through fun and engaging guided tours and nature interpretation.

Shockwaves Paddle Adventures

Shockwaves offers fully outfitted and guided kayak day trips into several of Ontario’s most picturesque waterways,  including the Talon Gorge on the Mattawa River, scenic sights on Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake. Also delivers skills and safety training.

SISU Adventure Rentals

Sisu Adventure Rentals is a mobile wilderness adventure company that offers self-guided adventures and weekend rentals. The sit-in and sit-on kayaks and paddleboard rentals come with PFD and safety equipment and they will deliver to your location, from North Bay to Mattawa! 

Voyageur Adventure Tours

Paddle back in time with Voyageur Adventure Tours, and experience the life of a voyageur at the height of the fur trade by paddling a voyageur canoe on the beautiful Mattawa River.

Voyageur Quest Outfitters

Voyageur Quest Outfitters is an all-season full-service outfitter conveniently located at Algonquin Park Access # 1, Kawawaymog Lake in South River. They offer canoe, kayak and gear rentals and sales, overnight cabins, guided canoe trips and wilderness training.


Northeastern Ontario Tourism

Northeastern Ontario Tourism has all the details about a range of uniquely northern accommodations from quiet campsites to lodges and simple B&Bs as well as a host of familiar hotels.

Stay With Us Summer Hotels

Once the students have left, college and university residences turn into affordable summer hotels all across Ontario. North Bay is no exception. Stay With Us at Nipissing University and Canadore College.


There are limited camping sites right along the Mattawa River in Mattawa River Provincial Park. 200+ campsites are available in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. Private campsites are also available along the way. See Northeastern Ontario Tourism.

“The Mattawa River is our favorite place to paddle. The towering cliffs, waterfalls, hidden caves… there are so many beautiful spots around every bend. Just be wary of the rocks often hidden just below the water’s surface.”

Supported By:

The vast network of trails we celebrate exist on the traditional lands and waterways of the Anishinaabe people within the territory protected by the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 and Williams Treaties of 1923.