Mohawk Island, Port Maitland

If you like to practice paddling in conditions. There aren’t a lot of spots in South Western Ontario that you can launch into a calm area and paddle into the waves. Probably the best example of this is the Mouth of the Grand River in Port Maitland. If you have a wind heading from the West to the East, the mouth of the Grand River lines up with a very long fetch line across the lake. This makes for some spectacular conditions at times, ranging from rolling surf waves all the way to massive crashing carnage into the weirs and jetties (more on that later).

The fetch across the lake is long, in this spot.


Launch Site: There are actually two launch sites at the river mouth but we prefer the one across the river from town, it is much less busy and it has porta potties set up for most of the summer months.

Difficulty: A word of caution about this launch. If you decide to head up the river (there a seperate post detailing this) there can be heavy boat traffic, if you head out to the lake, the waves can range from challenging to completely daunting, even impossible to pass. I have certainly been here on days when we get to the lake and turn around after seeing 2-3M waves. The rock jetty also creates some exceptionally confused water, it is a real challenge to navigate at times.


Port Maitland Lighthouse
The waves can be daunting


I try to use my head and judge the best way to paddle when I launch here. As I said this is one of my favourite spots to practice in conditions, so if they aren’t above my comfort level, we head out to the open water of Lake Erie.

Tom checking out the birds on the island

Trip Length:  Depending on the activities for the day, whether it be practicing paddling in the waves or surfing into the beach, the route for this location changes. The route below is the trip that handrails the coastline to look at the interesting rock formations along the shores of Rock Lake Provincial Park and returns around Mohawk Island. Of note, public access is prohibited from April 1 to July 31 every year to protect migratory birds during nesting.

The two yellow dots are reasonably decent surfing beaches.

A bit rocky but very useable
Dave dialing it in.
Landing for a snack break
Kyle making it look easy!


Cost: There is no costs associated with this trip. Parking is free and there is washrooms on site in the summer months.


I very much do not recommend doing this trip alone or without the proper instruction. It can be quite dangerous.