Surrounded by coulees, wildlife, and water, The Great Big Paddle will lead you to the most beautiful parts of the South Saskatchewan River.
In 2021, The Great Big Paddle saw over 250 participants paddling canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and the odd floaty on the South Saskatchewan River, thanks to the efforts of past president Rick Redmond and his volunteers from the Medicine Hat Paddling Club.
Learn more about the 2022 Great Big Paddle here.
Long-term member and director of Medicine Hat Paddling Club John Smith says the annual event begins with paddlers launching at Echo Dale Regional Park and finishes a few hours later at Strathcona Island Park, where participants are greeted with a new food truck each year.
“It’s a whole different point of view — every stream I’ve paddled looks a lot different from the water than what you see from the shore. There’s all this contrast between the colours and shadows, and the scenery is different based on how the light hits everything. I have a lot of pictures in print, but you can’t always capture what the eyes see naturally,” says Smith, adding that The Great Big Paddle is an extraordinary experience.
Paddlers have the chance to see whitetail and mule deer, beavers, muskrats, blue herons, kingfishers, turkey vultures, and occasionally mink. The Great Big Paddle has paddlers socializing and making new acquaintances, while also living in the moment and enjoying the fresh air and beauty that surrounds them.
“You’re surrounded by nature and you’re relaxed. There’s nothing like seeing and doing all of this in person. Your mind clears right up when you’re paddling.”
All Great Big Paddle participants must supply their own equipment, including a lifejacket.