Rockwood Conservation Area, Ontario Paddling
Updated Summer 2022
“Rockwood has a unique geological history that has left it with glacial bluffs, potholes and caves. The glacial bluffs were formed during the most recent ice age, which ended 11,000 to 16,000 years ago and range from five to 30 metres deep and seven to 200 metres wide.
You can paddle around islands, past towering cliffs and through narrow channels in Rockwood reservoir.” – Rockwood Conservation Area website
Rockwood Conservation Area: Part of Grand River Conservation Authority and the Eramosa River.
Open year-round (closed Dec 24-26) Open 8am-9pm for day use. Camping available May 1- October 15
Adult $7.75 incl. tax (child, senior and large group rates available too). Grand River Conservation Yearly membership $145
Before you plan your visit check the website for up-to-date pricing (pricing summer 2022) and facilities & activities open & offered.
- The Beach: A hike down from the parking lot. You can request to go and unload your board and equipment closer to the beach but you’ll have to park it back further up the hill away from the launch. It’s not ideal but this is likely where you’ll need to launch from.
- Water edge south of the beach: Launch is beside the path/road over the bridge by the Group Sites (4). The water edge is rocky and is a more difficult entry. To access, drop equipment off and park up the hill; similar to the beach launch location. If you’re lucky you might be able to park at the Group Sites in the off-season but check with conservation staff.
- Harris Woolen Mill Ruins by the dam. Parking and easy boat launch however parking spots are limited and they fill up quickly. Ask at the gate upon entering. There are typically signs on conservation roads advising of full parking lots or places you can’t go for single-day use. Watch for rocks when launching at this location. The water is shallow closer to the dam.
The location offers a little bit of shelter but the wind can become strong from the south or north as it channels between the rocks along the water. I have paddled with a 22km/hr (13.8mph/11.9 knots) wind coming from the south making the paddle doable but more difficult paddling back, which is not ideal.
It’s tricky planning the best paddle according to the wind with the limited launch and parking spots. Since the shoreline isn’t straight you can use this to your advantage to help get around some wind depending on the wind direction. Click for tips and resources for reading the wind.
It’s not a huge paddling location. You can comfortably paddle and explore most of the reservoir in about an hour. Paddling around the perimeter and checking out the rock cliffs from the beach to the damn and back is approx 2.5km total. You can get close to the dam but it starts to get very shallow. Be cautious of larger rocks when launching from Harris Woolen Mills Ruins.
- Watch out for shallow rock sections and sunken logs
- Bring a camera, it’s a beautiful location with lots of great rock walls
- Plan to hang out longer than just the paddle. Lots of cool hiking spots, places to have Après Paddle (even mid paddle) and other things to take in. See below.
- Washrooms on site
- Dogs are allowed everywhere but the beach and must be on a two-meter leash
- If you plan to go on a nice, warm sunny beach day, especially on weekends go early to avoid line-ups getting into the conservation area.
- Beautiful and unique paddle location
- Not a big paddle and a great one for beginners
- Lots of extra options for Après Paddle
- It can get busy on weekends in the summer
- Watch out for sunken logs and shallow rock ledges.
*check the website for the opening days & times per activity and pricing
- Concession stand
- Group Picnic shelters *booking required
- Canoe/Kayak/paddleboat (not SUP) rentals $25/hour plus $50 deposit
- Camping $40-55 per night May 1-October 15
- Mini golf $3-$5
Mary Beth thanks for the well written blog on Rockwood lake. Definitely a destination I would love to paddle. Happy SUPing.
Thanks for checking out the blog and for the kind feedback! I fully recommend this location!
Looking forward to getting out together again soon!