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Rapids Classification

The following rating system is used to class rapids in the Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Routes under normal flow conditions. During periods of extremely high or low water, most or all of the indicated portages may become madatory! Where no rating is given, a class 1 or less is inferred. For more information on average and present water levels, see Water Levels.

Classification of Rapids (under normal flow conditions)
Class 1
Small and regular waves; easily navigated passages. Usually navigable by novice paddlers.
Class 2
Regular, medium sized waves; low ledges; sweepers; log jams may be present; passages clear though narrow and requiring competent maneuvering. Inspection usually required. At least one member of team should be intermediate paddler.
Class 3
Waves numerous, high and irregular; exposed rocks; strong eddies. Inspection strongly recommended. Upper limit for open canoe. Usually navigable by intermediate to expert paddlers.
Class 4
Waves high, powerful and irregular; dangerous exposed rocks; boiling eddies; passages difficult to reconnoitre. Inspection mandatory. Powerful and precise maneuvering required. Rapids of this class, and over, should only be attempted by expert paddlers in covered canoes.
Class 5
River channel extremely obstructed; ledges; violent and fast current; abrupt corners. Reconnoitring mandatory but difficult.
Class 6
Difficulties of Class 5 carried to extremes of navigability. Definite risk of life involved.


Water levels and canoeing conditions on many Saskatchewan rivers and lakes vary from time to time, causing changes in the appearance of the various landmarks described in the Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Routes, as well as causing hazards not described herein. It is the canoeist's responsibility to proceed with caution and alertness, using discretion and good judgement at all times. The information provided on this site is intended to be of general assistance only, and the Government of Saskatchewan and Rebecca Kennel Consulting assumes no responsibility for its use. Canoeists are reminded that they travel at their own risk at all times.
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Modified on 23 Apr 96