Paddle around René-Levasseur Island

PlanPaddle my pakayak around René-levasseur island.
WhereRené-Levasseur Island is in the middle of Manicouagan Reservoir, which feeds huge hydroelectric dams on the Manicouagan river.
Expected DurationSeven days
WhyThe circular trajectory of this trip appeals to me in a strange way. I want to paddle the "eye" of Quebec. It's a wild, remote and beautiful place and I'm so excited that I'll get to see it!

Planning details

Detailed Plan● Drive to Relais Gabriel, North of Baie-Comeau. From Montreal this is 12 hour drive.
● Pay to park the car somewhere safe
● Cross Manicouagan reservoir to reach René-Levasseur Island
● Paddle around René-Levasseur Island
● Cross Manicouagan reservoir back to relais gabriel
● Before driving back, enjoy a hike in the famous Monts Groulx
Useful trip information I gathered● Actual land can differ from what is found on topographic maps of the region since the water level in the reservoir varies. When the level is low, there will be more islands in the reservoir. Hydro-Quebec have announced in October 2016 their intention of significantly rising the water level in the reservoir. This will make my trip different from previous trip reporting finding more islands than those on the topographic maps of the regiion.
● It's best to pay to leave the car in a safe place in the area.
Main anticipated difficulties● Crossing the reservoir to the island. The lake is large and waves can get quite big when the weather is bad.
● Enough mosquitoes and flies to drive me insane
● Remoteness
● Black bears looking for food
Useful linksRené-Levasseur Island Wikipedia page

8 thoughts on “Paddle around René-Levasseur Island

  • April 19, 2017 at 11:43 am


    I was just looking at the map of Canada on my wall and found this island. The first thing, I thought was – “Hey there is such a big island, it should be nice to paddle around it”.
    It’s so amazing, that you are going to do it! You doesn’t change you plan, don’t you?

    I will have 5-7 days in the middle of September. Would like to do something remarkable and amazing.
    But I think, it’s nearly impossible to make it around the island on light packraft(not plastic kayak) for 1 week.
    May be I will travel from Relais Gabriel to the middle of the island and back.

    You have a lot of experience of hiking, rock-climbing and Kayaking in Canada, do you think, that it will be interesting journey or you would advise me to visit another place (if I have only 1 week in Canada)?

    Thanks in Advanced.

    p.s. Just so cool, that someone thinks and dreams about the same things as you.

    • April 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Vladimir! You are correct, it would not be recommended to attempt going around the island in a packraft, unless you have a lot of time!
      This is a very remote place if you only have one week. Just getting there from Montreal is at least a 14-15 hours drive, partly on gravel roads. You can fly to a town closer to Relais Gabriel (Baie-Comeau or Sept-Îles) but the plane tickets will be expensive.
      Canada sure does not lack rivers and lakes. It depends a lot on your availability level and where you will be landing! Best of luck!

  • October 8, 2017 at 11:39 am

    We kayaked the ring in 2006. Much info and many links on my website under Travel notes. Have fun! Please send me a report (or a link to one) for my posting when done. Rob

    • October 10, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      I will! I have not received the kayak yet so this will have to be next year 🙂

  • December 1, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    The newest link on my Manicouagan webpage suggests that HydroQuebec intends to raise the water level to maximum (for want of power users). At that height the shore may reach the thick wall of stacked-up dead trees that floated up when the ring was first inundated. It may be harder to find tent sites among these but it may also get more adventurous to paddle amidst floating 50-yr old logs! Best, Rob

    • December 6, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks Rob! I’ll keep that in mind 🙂

  • May 11, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    I’m planning on September 2019. Will be going with an old school friend. We’re just in the planning and ‘getting fit’ stage right now. I have prijon seayaks, hoping they’re exactly what we’ll need. I’d be interested in sharing plans and equipment lists!
    How long do you think it will take? I see Rob had to sacrifice a few days due to weather, I wonder when is the calmest time of year to go?

    • May 12, 2018 at 2:05 am

      I still don’t have a planned date for this trip. I have not received my kayak yet! I think planning 9 days would be reasonable, I can be done in less but you would have extra days in case of bad weather. I don’t have an equipment list yet sorry!

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