The lakes of the Carden Plain include Lake Dalrymple, Head Lake, Canal Lake, Mitchell Lake and Cranberry Lake, although Cranberry Lake is not accessible as it is entirely surrounded by private property. Canal and Mitchell lakes are part of the Trent Canal system with much pleasure craft traffic. The canoeist will find the northern parts, away from the cruisers more to their liking. There are bays, little islands and lots of water life. They are shallow with lots of logs, deadheads and rocks that support a multitude of wildlife – herons , bitterns, gulls, muskrats, beavers etc.
Lake Dalrymple has two parts separated by a narrows. This lake is full of life of all kinds, from fish to birds, including turtles and mammals. The habitats are quite diverse as the southern part has a limestone base and the northern section which is the beginning of the Laurentian Shield has many granite shoals and little rock islands. It keeps the power boats out and becomes a virtual nature reserve.
The navigable rivers are the Talbot (partly) and the Head. The Talbot runs in and out of Raven lake which is small, reedy and uninhabited I have not been down this river but the Carden section seems to have a` lot of fences (often barbwire) and is very shallow.
The Head River flows out of Head Lake and runs westerly across the lower edge of the shield. The first part from the lake to Monck Road about 2 km east of Uphill is wide, flat and generally swampy along the sides. There is a small dam and then life gets much more interesting. There are multiple rapids and small falls. Only a few of these are runable and some require 50- 200 metre portages. The part just upstream from CKL # 35 to Monck Road east of Uphill is a quiet bit, which is mostly swamp with the river wending its way slowly. I saw some nesting eared grebes there. Don’ they know they are western birds? (Suitable for novices – allow 2-3 hours)
From Lake Dalrymple Road to the Monck Road at Young’s lake is mostly quiet with only one significant rapid to catch your attention .The river flowing from lake Dalrymple joins on the left side so there is a little more volume as you approach the Monck Road. The river of course continues and eventually joins the Black river south east of Washago.