Old Man River

 

Paddling the Old Man River from Monarch (Highway 3A) to Taber (Highway 36). Trip notes, resource references and maps below.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

Canada, Old Man River. May 15th - 19th, 2016.

 

If you’re looking for a classic southern Alberta paddle, the Old Man River certainly fits the bill; an overall grade I river suitable for Novice to Intermediate paddlers depending on flow. This trip was an abridged 4.5 day (166km) paddle adapted from Mark Lund’s (https://academic NULL.macewan NULL.ca/lundm/) Paddle Alberta (http://www NULL.paddlealberta NULL.org/) trip notes (https://paddlealberta NULL.org/trips/) which are an invaluable resource – excellent for planning and handy to have along for reference on route. NTS map references are provided in the document but if you’re interested in this specific stretch – put in at Monarch (Highway 3A) with a take out at the Highway 36 Bridge – feel free to use these. They’re 1:42,000 topo maps from Natural Resource Canada’s Geogratis portal (http://geogratis NULL.gc NULL.ca/site/eng/extraction) (2016) assembled into three tabloid size documents, that when printed and laminated to 10mm thickness, are not only impermeable navigational aids, but make excellent cutting boards and placemats after the fact.

 

The car ferry from the Highway 36 bridge to Highway 3A took approximately an 1hr, making a 2hr roundtrip that was easily done. Access to the put in off Highway 3A is straightforward and on the right just after you’re crossed the bridge, if you’re headed southwest on 3A (coming from Lethbridge). There’s plenty of room to maneuver and lots of places to leave a vehicle. Highway 36 is relatively straightforward as well; access is on the left if you’re headed south (towards Taber) just after crossing the bridge, however a barbwire fence 100m from the river makes things trickier and requires canoes and gear to be hauled under/over on take out. And if you’re planning on leaving a vehicle at the Highway 36 bridge, or any other suitable take out along the way for longer than 48hrs, it would be wise to get in touch with the local RCMP detachment (in this case, Taber) beforehand and notify them of your plans.

 

Overall there’s beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife along this paddle, with the current going through a familiar ebb and flow – picking up in the twists and turns and then dumping out into what could be confused with lake paddling at other points. Though there isn’t much above class I, there are a few sections that depending on flow can/could prove tricky. It’s a good section to practice reading, as making heads-up, informed choices in advance can save hauling one’s canoe over rocky shallow sections and avoiding standing rocks, while misreading is less likely to end in dire circumstances, just hauling one’s canoe over rocky shallow sections and bumping into standing rocks.