This article originally appeared in Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine.
Clean water, dark night skies, swimming under a 15-metre waterfall, ancient pine forests (we won’t mention rattlesnakes yet), the quiet Gibson River has it all. Muskoka might be known as a cottager’s playground of million-dollar summer homes, but the Gibson stubbornly and successfully retains a wilderness charm. The Gibson River corridor is partially protected for its rich Atlantic Coastal Plain flora, gneissic bedrock outcrops, superb vistas and yes, the threatened (but not threatening) Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. The 45-kilometre Gibson river route is a novice mix of small river, creek and lake canoeing with a few short portages around shallow rapids and plenty of great campsites.
To put in, take Highway 169 north as far as Torrance. Drive eight kilometres south on Southwood Road to Nine-Mile Lake Marina (705-762-5303). Follow the Gibson through the southwestern outlet of Nine-Mile Lake and continue to Woodland and Brothersons lakes, then through ponds and stretches of river to Gibson Lake and Go Home Lake. Take out is generally the Go Home Lake Marina (on Go Home Lake Road, west off of Highway 69, 705-375-2211). You’ll need to do a one-hour vehicle shuttle and might be able to arrange it with either marina if you call ahead.
Muskoka Paddle Shack (705) 687-9415
Algonquin Outfitters (705) 645-9262
Muskoka Outfitters (705) 646 0492
Canoeing, Kayaking and Hiking Wild Muskoka, by Hap Wilson.