Sackville River

Low volume river run
Class: II/III+ Length: Wooded River Run
Location: Sackville NS Character: Low volume, wooded, gun range
Gauge: — Contributor: Karl Vollmer
Last Update: Dec 17th, 2023 Updated By: Karl Vollmer, Dave Dunne

General Description

The river level rises and drops quickly during and immediately after rain events. Paddling should be done as the water is dropping. Portaging along the bank is difficult in many areas and risks damaging drysuits.

The upper section (between Lucasville Rd and the confluence of Sacville River / Little Sackville River) contains severe erosion in places. This causes trees to unroot and fall into the river or onto the bank, creating hazards in the river and for shoreline searches. It also creates undercuts that could be hazardous in high water. There are LOTS of trees that have fallen across the river which have to be portaged.

The river winds and therefore has a lot of blind corners. Due to the high number of strainers blind corners have be walked and having ability to identify and catch eddies is absolutely critical.

The summer floods have changed the river geography and route. This could cause more debris to be present in the river as it hasn’t had time and major level changes to flush debris out yet.

A section of the river, upstream of the confluence is restricted access by DND. It is downrange of the Bedford Rifle Range and has signs indicating that trespassers face the risk of being shot, and charged by the MPs. There is no reasonable take out before the restricted section.

The section below the confluence and the Bedford Rifle Range is low risk of strainers and easier to access. Mainly class I but class II in downtown Bedford through the manmade constriction under Bedford Highway into the harbour. The risk here is objects in the water (like shopping carts) that could pin a swimmer.


The Sackville river isn’t run very often, as such there’s limited beta on down wood and other obstructions. The river is also extremly flashy, and pushes lots of wood into, and across the river. It is strongly suggested all blind corners are scouted by foot, as there are often over ten trees across the river creating river wide hazards at any one time.


There are no named rapids on this river, however shortly after the put in there are two small ledges followed by a larger ledge with a Fish Ladder. This should be scouted incase wood has fallen across the falls, the normal line at the fish ladder rapid is left near the concrete wall. Do not go into the fish ladder.

Below the fishladder there are a series of ledges followed by pools. The river then starts winding back and forth with significantlly undercut banks on the outside edge of the turn, with a few 4-5 ft ledge drops at constriction points. There is significant wood on the edges of the river, and at higher water would be a significant source of risk.

At the middle point the river slows down, and the amount of wood increases, as it’s all been washed down to this point. This is the end of the run, as the Bedford rifle range is directly past this point. There is no way to legally exit the river at this point, as you are either tresspassing on private property or Nova Scotia Power’s land.