Put In Put In
Camping Camping
Portage Portage
Take Out Take Out

Magpie Ouest river ***

View Magpie Ouest river in a larger map.
  • Grade: 4-5,P
  • Level: Summer and fall flows, but susceptible to local rainfall
  • Gauge: There is a gauge for the Magpie, but flows are affected by local weather conditions. Cheeseball rock (see the description below) is a useful visual marker.
  • Length: 233 km from Eric, 129 km from Lac Vital
  • Time: 8-10 days from Eric, 6-8 days from Lac Vital to the start of the Magpie
  • Put In: Eric station, or Lac Vital
  • Take Out: Continue down the Magpie
  • Shuttle: Train to Eric, or Float plane to Lac Vital
  • Character: A more challenging start to the classic Magpie trip.
  • References: Fraser Cepella's Blog, UK Rivers Guidebook, Boreal River, FQCK Magpie Guide

This river really is in the middle of nowhere, but amazingly has a train line that can drop you and your boats at the top! This saves a bunch of money compared to flying in. The river has a few days of easy moving water before the first gorge and a portage around Entrance falls.

Portage on the Magpie Ouest
Portage left around Entrance falls
Image Credit; Adelaine Bertoni

From then on the whitewater is stunning and plentiful. There is a distinctive rock (Cheeseball rock) that has been used as an informal indication of levels.

Running past Cheeseball rock on the Magpie Ouest
Cheeseball rock in low flow; a useful visual gauge on the first day of whitewater
Image Credit; Adelaine Bertoni

Camping is good, and plentiful everywhere apart from the gorges.

Boof sneak line
Boof sneak line
Image Credit; Nick Stead

There are detailed maps in the FQCK Magpie Guide, that also describes the Magpie as well.

Running a slide on the Magpie Ouest
Sneak slide on the left of an island, avoiding a large rapid on the right
Image Credit; Fraser Cepella

To get to the take out; Continue down the Magpie

To get to the put in; Trains are operated by Tshiuetin Rail, and Eric is at km 137.5. Trains run twice a week. Lac Vital is reached by float plane, either from Sept-Iles or Havre-Saint-Pierre (Labrador Air Safari, 418-538-3866 or 418-962-4639). Flights from Havre-Saint-Pierre are cheaper. The flight in a Beaver (4-5 people and gear) was $1860, and an Otter (5-6 people and gear) was $2750 in 2016. There is a short section of river leading to the Magpie Ouest from Lac Vital.