A Day on the Magnetawan River: A PWC Adventure

River riding in Northern Ontario offer riders a remote but scenic adventure with twists and turns, quiet bays, and even a lock to pass through!

The Magnetawan River is not a typical PWC ride. Beyond Ahmic Lake the river is dammed and has numerous rapids. Resources are few and the river is only navigable from Burk’s Falls to Ahmic Lake. However there is an intriguing section of winding river which connects with several beautiful lakes.


The public launch ramp in Burk’s Falls is free and has two concrete ramps available plus a dock. Both launch ramps are rather steep. Parking is on the grassy area immediately south of the launch. Washrooms are located at the Burk’s Falls Welcome Centre just a short walk east of the boat launch.

The launch ramp. // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

Once you’ve launched your PWC, head south and then west along the river. It’s a slow speed zone until past the Hwy 11 bridge so enjoy the natural scenery. You will quickly find yourself on a fun river with many curves and turns. Lots of blind corners and a few hairpin turns gets your adrenaline going.  Stay to the middle/outside of your turns in case of oncoming traffic. Watch for fallen trees along the shoreline. Some of them project over the river and you don’t want to find yourself surprised. The waters are rich with fish. If you’re a fisherman bring your gear and try your hand at catching dinner.


Hwy 11 bridge & river ride // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

There are a few slow-speed zones where there are small communities and cottage resorts along the river. The locals and cottagers swim in the river so watch for bobbing heads in the water in these areas. Take time in the more remote areas of the river to shut off your PWC and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. You may spot herons, turkey vultures, and other birds.

The Magnetawan river takes you through Lake Cecebe which is a great space to play around with your PWC. When you’ve had your fill of playing, continue on the river towards the community of Magnetawan where you will go through a lock. The lock allows vessels through only a handful of times per day, so know when the lock times are. Each lock through takes about 15-20 minutes.


Lock times // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

In the lock // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

Our trip took us to Ahmic Lake which is a long lake with many bays. We stopped at the Quiet Bay Inn & Cafe for lunch. This is the only place in the area that is open for lunch. Your other option is to pack a picnic lunch and find a place along the shore to anchor your PWC. The resort buildings and cafe are not visible from the water and there is no signage directing you there. We called the cafe to get directions. Follow the small channel through the green plants in the water. Go at a No Wake pace as the water is very shallow. There are two docks in the shallow weedy bay that we pulled up to which are on the Quiet Bay Inn property. Tie up to one of the docks and walk uphill across the property, continue past the cottage resort, to the main road, then walk to your right towards a small building.

Dock at the Inn // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

The Quiet Bay Cafe is an unassuming building that belies the delicious food and excellent service behind its door. The staff is friendly and welcoming and will answer any questions you may have about the region. Don’t forget to try one of their homemade single-serve pies for dessert. They are freshly baked every Friday. Tasty flavors such as lemon, coconut cream, and raspberry along with a few others will tempt your tastebuds.

Ahmic Lake has a few cottage resorts as well as private cottages dotting the shoreline. You can extend your ride by heading south to Beaver Lake and then Crawford Lake, which connects from Ahmic Lake. Pay attention to the channel markers.

Head back to the lock in Magnetawan. If you’re running low on fuel, stop at Ahmic Marine opposite the lock channel to refuel your PWC before locking through and heading back to the launch. The fuel available is Premium grade. Once again on the upstream side of the lock, you get to have fun a second time riding the twists and turns of the Magnetawan River.

Ahmic Marina  // Photo credit: Marion Knaus

From Toronto, Burk’s Falls is about a 3 hour drive. There are no hotel accommodations directly in Burk’s Falls so if you plan to stay overnight, Huntsville has a variety of accommodations to choose from and is about a half hour drive to the south or Sundridge about 15 minutes to the north. For those who like to camp or travel with your RV and PWCs, there are resorts in the area that cater to this and have housekeeping cottages as well. Keep in mind that during the summer months many of these places have a minimum nightly stay and you do need to book in advance.

It is also possible to ride the Magnetawan River starting from Ahmic Lake. There is a public roadside launch on Hwy 520 or go to Ahmic Lake Resort. Day use is available there with a fee for the launch. Check in at the store which is open 10-7 daily. When you come back at the end of your ride, there is the Swiss Country House Restaurant on the premises where you can enjoy dinner six days a week. Closed on Wednesdays.

The Magnetawan is a fun day on the water. Explore at your own pace and enjoy the beauty that is offered along the river.

About Marion Knaus

Marion Knaus is a Certified Fitness and Nutrition Coach and the owner of Granolala.ca who spends as much of her free time on the water as she can. Riding her Waverunner on any water body is her happy place. She is an admin with the Ontario PWC Riders Facebook group and gladly shares her PWC knowledge with anyone willing to lend an ear. 

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