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1/29/2018 5:14 pm  #1


Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I am planning my first non-car-camping trip with my husband and 5- and 7-year-old kids for August in Algonquin Park and I need recommendations for a route.  Here are the requirements for my ideal trip:

- Easy so as not to dissuade the kids (or my husband) from ever going camping again, but I would love it if they could get the full experience of canoe camping as much as possible.
- Get away from the crowds as much as possible (though I realize this might be a tall order for a short trip in August)
- We are from south-western Ontario, so the southern, western, or possibly north-western access points would be much more practical for us
- A short portage would be nice for the experience and also for getting away from the crowds, but is not necessarily a requirement
- I would love to be able to do a bit of a river, but have been unable to find a suitable river route that doesn't paddle back upriver or commit to a fairly large loop.  Also, I know low water can be a problem in August.
- Right now I'm thinking a trip with about a half a day of travel in, stay for 2 or 3 nights, then a half a day of travel out, but I'm open to ideas.  I think we might stay in a motel near the access point the night before to make the first day easier.
- Obviously any other little bonuses to make the trip more fun for kids (like a campsite with a beach, or a little waterfall or something) would be awesome

Right now I'm thinking my best bet is Rain Lake, but I would love any suggestions you might have!

Thank you!

 

1/29/2018 11:05 pm  #2


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

You can do Rock to Clydegale. It's about 4-5hrs of travel, with 2 very short and very easy portages (you can bring a lot of gear for 'comfort' camping and double back and it will only add 15-20min onto your day). It's very unlikely that anyone will be passing through Clydegale, so it's essentially a dead-end lake which is great for some privacy during August.

But the main reason I'd recommend the route is because of the perks for the kids; there's a really nice waterfall on the first portage (between Rock and Pen), and then another nice waterfall between the second portage (Pen to Clydegale). Clydegale is a good spot for moose with all of the shallow marshy areas, plus, the campsites on the lake are really nice. To top it off, you can hike Booth Rock Trail on your last day and enjoy the nice lookout.

Here's my trip report for this route from last summer: http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=46110


edit: camping on Pen would be a good option as well since it would make the day shorter, and Pen has a couple beach sites (obviously no guarantee you would get them though). Then you could do a day trip into Clydegale to check out the waterfall and test your luck spotting moose. The main benefit of Clydegale over Pen is the privacy during August, since Pen has many more campsites and will have lots of people passing through.

Last edited by trippythings (1/29/2018 11:07 pm)

 

1/30/2018 6:49 am  #3


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

We saw a family with 3 kids camping on Sunday lake last July  on our way through from Opeongo.  Looked like a good spot for younger kid as I believe you park right at the lake or pretty close and have choice two sites. One island and one mainland. Looks like some day trip options to surrounding lakes but no river tripping.

Depending  where you are coming from Rain Lake to islet is also a nice smaller trip. Two portage that aren't too bad however the start of the first to Hot lake is a challenge but short lived. Islet was a nice little  lake with decent fishing. 

We did the Rock to Clydgale trip 2 years ago but our kids were older. 10 to 13  . It was a great time but with younger kids camping on Pen and daytripping to Clydegale might be a better option and shorter travel days
The beach sites looked great if you can be lucky enough to get one.
A first night option is the tent cabins at Algonquin Outfitters Oxtongue lake, if entering at the West gate. Showers and washrooms available while still getting a little camp feel and you can grab anything you forgot before you head out. Great way to start or end a trip.

Have fun out there no matter what.

 

1/30/2018 8:40 am  #4


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I would also say access at Rock Lake and camp on Pen Lake.  There are many nice sites on the lake.  
Then day trip to Clydegale Lake.  And you could explore the Galipo River and portage,  on foot.
This trip was a staple when our children were young. 

(Don't camp on Clydegale as paddling all the way there could take upwards of 5 hrs from the put in, and there aren't as many nice campsites on it for a family with small children).

IMO, Stainless
 

 

1/30/2018 9:21 am  #5


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I'd second the option to camp on Pen via Rock. Rain Lake and area is beautiful but there are some more "fun" things to do around Pen. You can try to find the pictographs on Rock Lake on the way in (I've never successfully identified them), cool waterfalls, neat spring on the portage between rock and Pen, rivers close by for exploration, etc.

I agree with Stainless that getting all the way to Clydgale may be a bit much with a 5- and 7-year old. But, Clydegale makes a great day trip. When I've done it we didn't see any moose on the Madawaska River that enters Clydegale but we did meet a beaver and her baby. 

I'd try to get into Pen in decent time on your first day so you can find a good campsite. There are some beautiful sites on Pen but also some poor sites. The site on the south side of the west island of the twin islands is great! You will get people passing by often enough but I always kind of enjoyed that level of people watching. 

The sites on the west side of the lake are all tucked into the forest and never look appealing from the water (although I don't actually know what they are like). There are some beach sites on the east side of the lake but if you get too far south down the lake, the east side sites are very sloped with lots of levels (may or may not be appealing). 

All that being said, I've never actually ended up on a truly bad site so don't rush to the point of not enjoying the journey! I'm excited for your family, you'll have an awesome time. 

 

1/30/2018 9:38 am  #6


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I did a trip to Shirley Lake with my two boys when they were 3 & 4.  Easy paddle up Crotch Lake.  The portage to Shirley is not too long and is a good trail.  Shirley has some great sites, some with beaches. The picture is from the north beach on the site we stayed and it also has a smaller beach that faces south.  It's a gentle grade out into the lake with no worries of a sudden drop off and nice sandy bottom. It's also an easy day trip to Ryan Lake.  We went mid-July and we were the only people on the lake.  When we came out the access point was busy with people coming out after the weekend and it seemed like everyone had come from Booth/Farm or Crotch.  The sites on Shirley are far enough apart from one another that even if there are other people on the lake you probably won't notice them.  http://i64.tinypic.com/121wk0h.jpg


www.algonquinvoyageur.blogspot.ca
'...a man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows. The instant he dips a paddle he flows as it flows.’ Sigurd Olson
 

1/30/2018 9:39 am  #7


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Hi Claire - the route of my first solo trip might be a good one.  Magnetwan through Ralph Bice and on to David.  Getting there, for me anyway, was about 3 hours.  The portages are not difficult, although getting out of the water from Bice to David is a bit of a pill because it is so steep at the shoreline.  That last carry is the longest at 650 or something like that.  Still, on David you get the lake to yourself unless there is an interloper, and be on an island that has terrific water access for swimming, etc., and if they aren't great swimmers, the canoe landing area is glently-sloped and sandy-ish.  The island is kind of small, true, and you need to watch your step a little bit because the latrine has been moved around and you wanna talk about deep pits that come out of nowhere, well, here's your big chance.  The rock outcropping would be very nice for checking out a night sky if the kids last that long, and my experience was that if it was windy, you do have protection in the campsite.  You'd have to go to the mainland for firewood, but that's an adventure, and on day 2 you could cross a short & easy carry to Mubwayaka (I probably spelled that incorrectly...), and ta-daaaa, there's a "provincially significant bog" and David Creek on the other side of that lake ripe for exploration (and another campsite or two that could be explored).  The chief downside to the trip is you never know just what you'll get in terms of wind on Ralph Bice.  I had a fair wind helping me on the way there, but had to stay behind land features to the extent possible on the way out.  It kind of worked out though - I scared the living H out of a pretty girl who had just finished dipping her head of hair into the water to clean it sort of when I came around the peninsula there.  Ordinarily I wouldn't go that close to a campsite, but the wind was getting up, and hey, I thought it was pretty entertaining.

 

1/30/2018 11:10 am  #8


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I'm not sure if you own your own canoe or plan on renting one, but one of the nice things about many of the access points in AP, including Rain and Rock, is that outfitters will deliver and pick-up a canoe right at the access point.  I have two kids, age 6 and 9, and although I'm comfortable loading up a canoe on my car, it's nice to have one less transaction to consider.

For the past two years, I've been taking my kids to the Haliburton Highlands Water Trails.  The area is just southwest of Algonquin, and the campsites can be previewed online and individually reserved.  The area can even be viewed from Jeff's Algonquin maps. 

I like this area because there are quite a few easy paddling options.  So far, I've stayed on Big East lake which had some nice spacious campsites, as well as Poker Lake.  The Poker lake campsite was average, but it was the only site on the lake.  From Poker lake, we enjoyed a day trip paddle to Cinder lake.  This year, we'll likely be heading to Gun lake in the Haliburton Frost Centre area.  

@Tripper, that photo is fantastic!  What a great spot!

 

1/30/2018 12:09 pm  #9


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I'm with everyone else on the Rock to Pen Lake idea, it was my first trip with my kids, and especially the waterfall between rock and pen provided hours of entertainment. We picked the site right at the waterfall on Pen, its large and at the time we didnt mind the canoes going past to other destinations. If it turns out you'd rather not portage, I would also recommend Shall Lake on the east side. Many very large sites with beaches, no portaging , a short river to get to them, and a large swampy area to paddle for some exploring. I didnt like any of the sites on Farm lake, but for site #6 on PCI map, the rest were dark and dingy. You could go to Shirley Lake from Shall, portage about 1 km, easy path, but you could do that as a day trip to find out what the rest of the family thinks. From Shall to Kitty Lake cabin is another nice paddle, short, about 40 minutes depending how fast you go, and the portages towards booth as well as bridle lake make for good short walks. This all sounds pretty timid when im reading it back, but I remember too well that packing was a real issue in the beginning when I first started out camping with kids. Had far more gear then I needed but didnt know that untill we got to the canoe. I learned quickly, but those first easy trips cemented the love for camping in all my kids.

 

1/30/2018 3:59 pm  #10


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Ok maybe sacrilegious on AA but just for a different option I will suggest Killarney.

- Ruth -Roy lake  out of Johnnie lake access is only 1 hour and 30 mins travel in. 
- 1 short 80 M portage with a little waterfall
- Dead end lake with only 2 very nice sites that are far enough away so great solitude
- Water in this lake is crystal clear and both sites have good swimming 
- Killarney is very busy so you would have to book 5 months in advance in my opinion

Sorry no beach no river travel in this option.

Last edited by ShawnD (1/30/2018 3:59 pm)

 

1/30/2018 5:56 pm  #11


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Shirley Lake is also a great trip with young children!  Several very good campsites. And the lake is big enough for a couple of days exploring.

 

1/30/2018 9:08 pm  #12


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Pen is great with kids. Short portage, waterfalls on the way to welcome and also on the way to clydegayle. We have caught trout there all season. I have stopped at the two sites on the west side just past the island at the north end,  small not great sites plus lots of leaches.  The ones on the west shore at the south end are good. Like the bottom 2 or 3 south west side. East shore all looked good that I have stopped at. Go late July to mid September to avoid bugs and not be too cold with kids.
L

 

1/30/2018 9:15 pm  #13


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Let's not forget the spring on the portage from Rock to Pen. Not far from the Rock lake end on the right side of trail.  My kids loved stopping there for water both in and out. So cold and refreshing.

 

2/01/2018 9:59 am  #14


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Thank you so much for all of the great responses!!!  This is perfect!  I think we will try to the Rock to Pen idea with a side trip to Clydgale.  I haven't made reservations for the interior in a long time... is it as competitive as campground campsites?  The last time I tried to book a campground campsite at 7 am on the day it became available I was too slow.    

     Thread Starter
 

2/01/2018 11:55 am  #15


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

I didn't read through the responses so sorry for repeats ... Rock lake, Sec lake, Mcmanus, and if you are adventurous ... Opeongo Water Taxi and your choice of any lake after a portage ... 

Paul 

 

2/01/2018 1:34 pm  #16


Re: Canoe route ideas for a 5- and 7-year-old's first trip

Susan wrote:

Thank you so much for all of the great responses!!!  This is perfect!  I think we will try to the Rock to Pen idea with a side trip to Clydgale.  I haven't made reservations for the interior in a long time... is it as competitive as campground campsites?  The last time I tried to book a campground campsite at 7 am on the day it became available I was too slow.    

Pen Lake will usually fill up on a summer weekend, but definitely not right at the 5-month in advance time that it becomes available. Just don’t leave it till the last minute and you should be ok. If you’re set on the route, then obviously the earlier the better just to be safe.

Edit: also if you’re going to do 2-3 nights (meaning at least 1 or 2 weekdays will be part of the trip) id recommend taking those weekdays at the beginning. On a busy lake like Pen, you have a better chance of getting a nice campsite if you head in on Thursday and stay till the end of the weekend, versus heading in on Friday/Saturday and staying until Monday/Tuesday. It’s always luck of the draw anyways, but that would at least help your chances a bit

Last edited by trippythings (2/01/2018 1:37 pm)

 

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