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Route 3 - Admiralty Islands

Amiralty Islands Primary Image
Trailhead: 

Paddlers can easily access this portion of the Thousand Islands via the Lions Club Public Boat Launch in Gananoque. The adjacent Gananoque Municipal Marina offers several amenities for paddlers including overnight parking, pay phones, showers and ice! Several other marinas in the village offer easy access to the river with a full range of amenities offered.

Trip Length / Distance: 

spend a full day. From the Admiralty Islands several extensions to other routes are possible.

It is a 5 km trip from the Gananoque municipal marina to Aubrey Island, via Wanderer’s Channel.

Points of Interest: 

Wanderer’s Channel

The name is a strong clue, to how one might best discover this sheltered channel that winds through the heart of the Admiralty Islands. Take the time to lose yourself in this magical place.

Half Moon Bay

Hidden along the southeastern corner of Bostwick Island is Half Moon Bay, the site of a Thousand Islands tradition like no other. Every Sunday in July and August around 4:30, as the afternoon sun begins to dip in the sky, religious services are conducted in an open-air church where the pews float, the pulpit is built of rock, and the cathedral walls grow from the ground. Each week services are conducted by a different denomination from the village churches in Gananoque. The bay is a special place to share this experience and it retains its special character for all explorers.

Aubrey Island

Nestled beneath a towering deciduous canopy, this low granite island, on the western edge of the Frontenac Axis, supports an oak-maple-ash forest with scattered white pine and hemlock along the eastern slopes. Small bays on the east and west side are important

herptile habitat - bullfrogs, water snakes, mudpuppies and painted turtles live here.  Paddlers will appreciate the secluded campsites on this magnificent island.  Several sites on the southwestern side of the island can be reached from a spectacular granite beach. Others are just a few strides from the protected docks of Aubrey’s southern bay. Several secluded sites are found on the northern upland portion of the island, best accessed by paddlers from the docks of the northeastern tip, a favourite anchorage spot for sailboaters.

Thwartway (Leek) Island Beaches. 

Not to be missed is Thwartway Island, where the wave-washed granite has resisted waves of the open river, slowly capturing tiny sand particles to yield two small and secluded sandy beaches. Thwartway is the perfect spot to visit late in the day to enjoy a spectacular sunset.  Parks Canada acquired this island in 1972 to protect a complete island ecosystem, with minimal human presence. There are very limited facilities on the island, save a privy near the beach and an old trail network. No camping is permitted on this island. The trip to reach Thwartway is well worth the effort, especially if one follows a sheltered route past Hay, Huckleberry and Juniper Islands to enjoy the emergent wetlands and abundant waterfowl that frequent the many islets.  Thwartway lies far south of Gananoque and as a

distant outlier of the Admiralty Islands, it joins the group to the nearby Lake Fleet Islands.

Steamboat Channel

Several of the historic family cottages and grand boathouses of the region can be enjoyed as you paddle the Steamboat Channel between Forsyth Island and Hay Island. Note that this winding channel is frequented by pleasure craft and tour boats.

Mermaid Island Whaleback

The results of glaciation are no more apparent in the region than on Mermaid Island. Its entire form and character were literally carved by ice over rock. A roche moutonnée topography characterizes the island. It is an elliptical landform known as a whaleback”. The island demonstrates the power of ice! Sheer rock faces, a deep ravine, glacial gullies, and polished rock indicate the ancient presence of the ice. The east-west orientation corresponds to the dominant direction of force applied by the massive sheet. Despite generally poor soils on the island, an interesting range of tress stand on Mermaid, including red ash, white cedar, red maple, aspen, basswood, white pine, hemlock, white birch and wire birch. Although there is no camping, paddlers will enjoy Mermaid Island’s short hiking trail, picnic sites, deep water swimming and privy.

Beaurivage Island

A chance to stretch underworked legs is a necessary delight on Beaurivage Island where a stroll around the island’s perimeter features a young, open forest seemingly growing directly from the granite underfoot. Walk among fragrant sumac, raspberry, elderberry, lowbush blueberry, and juniper. Its central location within the Admiralty route, abundant campsites (8), and picnic shelters (equipped with a woodstove to warm you during surprise spring thunderstorms!) make Beaurivage a sound choice for paddlers to set-up a base camp from which to explore.

Extensions: 

 

The Lake Fleet Islands, a favourite destination for kayak adventuring, are a perfect extension to this route. Paddlers enjoying extended tripping in the region may arrive at the Admiralty group from the Bateau Channel route (#2) or the Lake Fleet route (#4).


 

Notes and Cautions: 

Gananoque Municipal Marina

Boat traffic in this congested spot can be dangerous as larger vessels arrive and depart. A breakwater can obscure the view lines of other boaters. Travel as a group and be cautious when entering and exiting this busy spot.

Busy Channel Crossings

The waters of the Gananoque waterfront are shared by a variety of users. It is not unusual to find tripledeck cruise ships, jetskis, pleasure cruisers, sailboats

and kayaks all vying for space. The confluence of two main recreational boating channels lies 300 m from the entry to the marina and can be a busy

intersection on summer weekends! Be aware of other watercraft and exercise caution in channel crossings. The best approach is to stay near shore,

where the passage is safer and the scenery is better.  Paddle west from the launch site, between the mainland and Ormiston, Cherry and Pike Islands, then

cross the channel between Pike and MacDonald and continue west along the MacDonald Island shore.

Open Waters

Southwest of Aubrey and Mermaid Islands, the river widens considerably. With virtually no islands to provide leeward protection, the prevailing southwesterly winds can reach a mighty intensity here, throwing large 3-4 ft waves with a deceptive short chop.

Novice paddlers should be wary of this section of the route, especially if the winds are up. For skilled paddlers, the area can be an exciting arena to ride the waves and feel the might of the winds.

Click "Download Map (PDF)" link to the right to download/print guide & map of the paddle route.

 

The Admiralty Islands, located just southwest of the historic village of Gananoque, offer a wealth of paddling destinations. The picturesque channels and sheltered back bays of this sprawling cluster of islands will provide enough adventures to easily fill an afternoon or full day. Wanderer’s Channel simply beckons a relaxed exploration, while Halfmoon Bay intrigues the imagination, and the warm sand beaches of Thwartway Islands’ western shore are a refreshing place to cool off on a hot afternoon. Aubrey, Beaurivage and McDonald Islands are ideal places to view the sun setting over the open water, or to set up camp for an evening on the islands beneath towering oaks and rugged pines.

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