Whitewater Paddling in Hastings County - MACKfest 2018

Photos and Story submitted by Britt and Jeff 

After a long winter, I think all of us in Hastings County can agree that we are super stoked to see some warmer temps coming our way. Arguably the most excited folk may be the paddlers gearing up for this years MACKfest. The Marmora Area Canoe and Kayak Festival (MACKfest) is an annual event to celebrate the beginning of the whitewater paddling season.

As the snow melts it begins to swell the rivers of the Lake Ontario Watershed making it best time for this daring group of adrenaline junkies to hit the water. We got the heads up about this event from the wonderful peeps at Hastings County and found all the info we needed at the Kawartha White Water Paddlers website.

The event doesn't run on a specific date. Although usually mid-April, the event can shuffle weekends in order to take place during prime conditions.

Of course the best way to enjoy this event is tucked into your kayak, paddle in hand and surrounded by fellow adventure seekers. But, that can take time and practice. Luckily this is a great spectator sport. If you are newbies like us there is lots to see and do, and maybe one day, if you’re brave enough you can try it out. It looks like a blast!

Hastings County provides some fun and challenging sections of the river. With names like Calaghan Wave, Electric Chair and Big Frank you know you are in for some exciting rides. Worth mentioning again is kwpclub.ca it’s jam-packed with info on directions to the rivers and highlights of challenging sections and drops.

Drops are exactly like you might imagine… small waterfalls created by dams and other structures that paddlers ride over. A MACKfest must-see is the Queensborough Mill Drop. It's at the end of the Black river run and is a beautiful spot to sit and wait for the paddlers to come hit the Class IV drop.

We started our day in Queensborough, a quaint little hamlet big on tradition. We feel that this town deserves a story on its own. One of these Queensborough traditions is catering to these hungry paddlers who brave the Mill Drop. Elaine, who owns the house by the mill, provides the paddlers with many things, most notably her famous pies and friendly conversation!

While we were here, we were lucky enough to talk to a couple of paddlers who have been participating in the festival for years. Avid paddlers Leah and Wayne come every year all the way from Lake Scouga Point. We also got to chatting with Erwin, who has been paddling for 20 years but didn’t start until he was 40 years old. Talk about inspirational!


The official MACKfest headquarters are in Marmora at Bunkers Hideaway. This rural paintball field also has a bar and restaurant on-site. Paddlers gather for meals, silent auction, campfires and camping. Its a perfect meeting place. We popped in mid-afternoon and had a bite to eat. Almost everyone was out on the water as the sun was shining and water conditions were great. We were invited back in the evening for what sounded like a good party. The paddling community has a very welcoming culture. They love to talk about their sport and share all the great stories they have.

This year get your heart racing at this spectacular event, visit Queensborough!

Details about MACKFest

Story and photographs by Britt and Jeff

Britt and Jeff are a small town Canadian couple with entrepreneurial minds, hippie spirits and a passion for food, travel, music and people.

Learn more about Britt and Jeff and their adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County.