The Chalk River
from the Bronson Road to Corry Lake

The Chalk River between the Bronson Road and Corry Lake provides an excellent location for a spring day's exploration by canoe. The route is fairly easy, scenic, gives the impression of being remote, is uncrowded and has good wildlife viewing opportunities (mainly birds).

2005 April 29

The Chalk river lends itself to three different day (or partial day) canoe trips. You can launch at Hwy. 17 and paddle upstream through the lower marsh to Corry lake and return in an hour or two. I enjoy this section in the early spring as it provides some of the earliest sheltered open water in the vicinity.

Or you can launch at First James Lake from the access road off the Bronson Road and explore upstream — perhaps to the "Fourth James Lake" and beyond. How far you get depends on the water level. But in the spring, when the water is the highest, the road is the worst.

A caution is in order here: I haven't actually been into the James Lakes in a couple of years now and there has been logging in the vicinity in the interim. Consequently, I can't vouch for the current state of the access road. Also, although it might be tempting to launch at the Bronson Road and proceed upstream, you can't reach First James Lake without trespassing on private land.

Today, Richard, Gregory and I explored the middle section of the Chalk River, from the Bronson Road down to Corry Lake.

The Chalk River emerging from under the Bronson Road

The start point. Here the river emerges from three large culverts under the Bronson Road.

Below the Bronson Road the river passes through a three km long marsh, characterized by a rocky, sparsely treed bluff to the east and low country to the west. The river was obstructed at several points by low beaver dams, but none presented any problem at this water level.

Chalk River in the marsh

Chalk River in the marsh (looking east).

There were lots of birds in the marsh, notably red winged blackbirds, turkey vultures, mallards and Canada Geese. At one point we were visited by a large flock of tree swallows. Just previously, we had noticed that we were being watched by a moose from the trees on the bluff. (How often does this happen and you don't notice?)

rocky chute on Chalk River above Otterson Lake

This rocky chute, somewhat less than a kilometer above Otterson Lake, was the only place where we had to portage.

canoeist executing a cross draw amongst the alders

For the last few hundred meters before entering Otterson Lake, the water is quick and the river narrow. Often a deft cross draw is necessary to avoid a face full of alder branches.

covered bride

The covered bridge just below Otterson Lake.

Corry Lake

At the top of Corry Lake.

A good spring outing; I look forward to doing it again. The abundance of waterfowl in the marsh and at the top of Corry Lake adds interest. (In Corry Lake we added wood ducks, buffleheads, mergansers and loons to our day's list.)

While the temperature was a little cool and the wind a little chilly, most of the time the route was sufficiently sheltered. (But I should have worn my long underwear tops.)