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4/11/2017 9:35 pm  #1

Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

My 10 year old has been asking for a canoe trip for a few years.  Being out of practice, and not wanting to paddle "on my own", I've waited to a point where he can hold his own.  So we're headed for a short 2-3 nighter from an access point along the corridor.  

Anyways, I know that while he likes the "idea" of the trip, canoeing 6-8 hr days with just a camp site at the end may not keep his high interest.  Was considering a few options like Smoke to Big Porcupine, or Rock Lake down to Clydengale, but I figured some of the more experienced people here might know of a good route that offers some sights or excursions along the way (rapids, falls, lookout, etc)

Thanks for any tips.



4/11/2017 10:06 pm  #2

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

A couple options....

1. Canoe Lake to Burnt Island. Burnt is a big lake with lots of campsites, a popular option for 'easy' trips. Canoe Lake has a lot of history you can spend time exploring

2. Lake Opeongo. Camping in the northwest corner, Hailstorm Bay is a popular area for wildlife sightings.

3. Cache to Head Lake. If you're willing to tackle the 1.6km portage (it's very flat and easy) then there's a nice waterfall at the southeast of Head Lake. If you wanted to take the longer route back, you can go through the Madawaska river and pass some more waterfalls, and plenty of beaver dams (might be exciting for a young one). And there's a short hike to the Skymount lookout, off the 360m portage at the east of Cache. Waterfalls, beaver dams, lookout points. Could be a fun weekend. 

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4/12/2017 6:18 am  #3

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Booth might be a good option - maybe not officially "corridor" but plenty of exploring to do and a day loop option through Godda.  Also good fishing if that might occupy his interest.

A little more strenuous but cool would be a loop from Rock through Welcome, Harry and Louisa...that would get the "explorers" blood flowing in him!

Don't sell a 10 year-old's creativity short - chances are that he'll be exploring around the site, the shallows and inventing games and such on his own - you don't have to keep him entertained around the clock since their own creativity will fill in the gaps.  

Do prepare for rain - bring a tarp and a deck of cards and a travel game of checkers (or better yet, create your own checker board on the site with sticks and rocks...that could be an hour of activity just making the board!)

In the end, you cannot go wrong.  As long as you get him out away from the TV and the digital assault of life nowadays I think the two of you will have a grand old time.  Swim, jump and act like a couple of boys.


4/12/2017 7:06 am  #4

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

if you don't mind an in and out - Opeongo to Big Crow cabin and back.  There is the Fire Tower and the ruins on the crow river and of course the cabin itself.

Booth is a good one too, as suggested already, you can always do a day trip through Godda, Rumley and Rye Grass or up to Tattler cabin.  Those places hooked my nephews when they were 8 and 10, and Pike fishing can be fun.


4/12/2017 9:53 am  #5

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Hi Mike,  Some great advice here already.
I have 4 kids who I trip with (19, 15, 12 and 10).   I've done several trips of varying lengths with different combinations of all of them.   We have done base camp trips, 10 day loops and there and back's. 
Depending on weather, number/length of portages etc., I have found that 5 hours max travel in any given day seems to be the "sweet spot" for the age or your son. Gives you enough time to get set up and do whatever for the rest of the day.   Like PaPaddler will be amazed at their creativity out there.
I would highly recommend Booth. My 9 year old daughter and I base camped on Booth last July for 3 nights. It is only a couple fairly easy portages in (we were able to skip the short 90m one).  We had an awesome beach site for swimming etc. and great bass/pike fishing.  Plus a couple day trips around Booth.

Swimming is always popular with the kids in the summer (they can swim for hours) so I always make sure to have a good site with a swimming option. 

My older boys' first trip was into Big Porcupine for 4 nights...they were 10 and 7 at the time.  
Get him involved in EVERYTHING, planning, menu, camp set up etc. etc.  Get the map out and show him a couple of these route suggestions...let him make the choice.  He will take ownership and pride in doing so.   

I guess what I am trying to say is, go for it!  You will have no regrets wherever you end up.  If your son is anything like my kids, after your trip, he will have the next 40 or 50 years worth of route ideas. 

Have fun!!



4/12/2017 10:55 am  #6

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Yep, i agree with all the above, I  tripped with 3 kids for many years. Getting them involved in everything is the key. In my case the roadmap from home to access point was in their hands, with me following directions, and on occasion turning of on a wrong exit according to them (to find a meal ofcourse). This also worked once the trip started. They had the canoe map, i followed orders, and made many a circle around lakes and bays, but making sure we had about 5 hours of paddling, not more. This approach had a an unintended side effect: as adults they can read maps and work a compass like the best of them; and do not need GPS. But most of all Have fun! All the recommendations where to go as mentioned in the other posts i did with mine, and all were succesful trips.
BTW you can never take enough marshmallows for roasting! A trip with a waterfall or a cliff jump in it will be a highligt (Pen lake waterfall) . Nearby portages for day trips or just exploring are a great help. Mec has very neat compact  travel games for a rainy day.


4/12/2017 11:17 am  #7

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Rock Lake to Pen Lake.  Only 1 small portage and rapids at end of Rock, rapids from and on Galipo River from Welcome to Pen, and rapids from Clydegale to Pen.  Also good trout fishing too.  You could even do a day trip to Welcome, Harry and Rence or also could daytrip to Clydegale and paddle up the South Madawaska River.

​Another trip you could take is from Highway 60 to Pinetree Lake.  Lakers only in Pinetree. Take the first campsite on your left.  Good fishing on rocks, plenty of firewood back of camp, nice stream flowing in from Leaf Lake.  There is also a lookout back of camp....nice climb.  Then if you walk up stream, take the right branch and presto you are on Leaf Lake with a good spot to fish.  About a 15 minute walk.  From here there is a trail all the way back to Bud Lake and then back to Highway 60.  Check Algonquin Park stocking lists re what fish are in Leaf and Bud Lakes and how many are put in these lakes every 2 years.

​Another easy trip is from Sunday Lake to Sproule Lake.  1 short portage.  Really nice campsites on Sproule Lake.  There is even a portage from Sproule Lake all the way to Opeongo Lake.  Good luck in finding it should you wish to go on an adventure.  I believe this "former portage" is in Jeffery's book.  I found it once but it is very difficult to find.

Last edited by boknows (4/12/2017 11:33 am)


4/12/2017 6:28 pm  #8

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Is there a reason you're specifically limiting your options to the corridor? There are probably other parts of the park that are equally close to home for you, but which ones depend on where home is.

Also, are you decided on whether you want to do a multi-day route/loop or just hang out in one spot for a few days?

Any routes starting from Rock Lake can involve checking out the faint pictographs on Picto Bay and perhaps a short hike from the Booth Estate to the Booth's Rock Trail lookout. But those would just be in passing on the first and/or last days, since presumably you'd want to camp on backcountry lakes, not Rock Lake.

I presume the lookout Bo is talking about on Pinetree Lake is the one on the cross-country ski trail where it passes the eastern tip of the lake. I've only been there on skis.

If you camp on a lake that's adjacent to a wetland, like a lake with a marshy bay or connected to a boggy river, another form of sightseeing is to paddle the wetland early in the morning to look for wildlife.

Bo, though I've never looked for it myself, the Sproule-Opeongo portage is shown on both Jeff's map and the official FOAP map as a current, regular-maintenance portage. Though I don't know why anyone would portage 3.5 km to get between an access lake and a lake one short portage from an access lake.

Last edited by DanPM (4/12/2017 6:29 pm)


4/12/2017 6:38 pm  #9

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

The portage from Sproule to Opeongo is very hard to find, so it is not an official low maintenance portage.

I guess it is there for Peek to take! lol

​And yes, the lookout on Pinetree Lake is off the ski trail.  I think there are some Inuksuts(sp) there.

Last edited by boknows (4/12/2017 6:40 pm)


4/13/2017 6:13 pm  #10

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

No not sure why you found that portage hard to find, just look for the big yellow sign and pretty sure it is amaintained portage.
Your information is a little out dated, have you been to this lake this century?


4/13/2017 6:27 pm  #11

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

@guest99 as I was there last year, at least the start of the portage on the opeongo side wasn't all that easy to see. We accidentally found it because we were having lunch on a very small, very little used campsite in sproule bay and the portage to sproule lake started at the back of the campsite. You could not see this from the water.
We did not go all the way to sproule lake though as the portage at that time had a few  downed trees. (fall)


4/13/2017 7:40 pm  #12

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Wow!  Thanks for all the quick replies.  

@DanPM: You're right.  I just chose the corridor because it's easier, and because I figured we'd rent a canoe from along there.  Still planning the logistics.  You're right it's probably just as beautiful and less busy elsewhere.  We're coming in from the West.

@Tents: The waterfall @ Pen sounds interesting.  You mentioned some jumping opportunities, was that at Pen as well?

@Everyone: Lots of great experiences you've had, I'm sure this will be a great one for us.  He's my eldest of three, so I'm sure I have many more years of trips to look forward to.  I'll probably make it through a number of the above suggestions.  A few of you suggested Booth.  I hadn't thought of crossing the park (coming in from west), but you certainly make it sound intriguing.  I'm assuming access is from Opeongo.  Someone else mentioned Hailstorm Lake through a bog (which I'm assuming is passable), which might make a good detour.

Lots of great ideas, thank you everyone.  Have to think about all the other logistics now (canoe, food, equipment, etc).

Thanks again.


     Thread Starter

4/13/2017 9:27 pm  #13

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

I used to work at Algonquin Outfitters on Ope so on my days off I would often take one of the canoes and paddle from ope to sproule and on down that string of lakes, cross the highway and paddle down to rock via whitefish. I'd get one of my co-workers to pick me up at the end of the day at the rock lake access. Only once did I ever even see another canoe until I got to kearney. It was always a nice paddle. If the water taxi conditions were good (we rode free so long as there was another group going up or down the lake) I would get dropped off at happy isle and go into happy isle, cut across to red rock and then across again into the crow river and down Proulx where I would get picked up by the taxi. But I doubt thats what you have in mind. Talk of the sproule portage just got me thinking of those old trips.


4/13/2017 9:34 pm  #14

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

Each of the access points in Algonquin will have at least one outfitter "nearby".

If you're coming from the "west", then the access points on the west side of the Park served by the Kearney permit office would be an option. That would be #4 Rain, #3 Magnetawan and #2 Tim.  Each of them provides a variety of options.

Canoe Algonquin is right there in town for canoe rentals

Algonquin Basecamp is also in Kearney, but we've never dealt with them.

And you will want to stop for burgers and fries at the burger joint across the street from the office. ;)


Last edited by Barbara (4/13/2017 9:38 pm)

Take everything as it comes; the wave passes, deal with the next one.

Tom Thomson, 1877-1917

4/14/2017 6:38 am  #15

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

mrmikerd  wrote:  A few of you suggested Booth.  I hadn't thought of crossing the park (coming in from west), but you certainly make it sound intriguing.  I'm assuming access is from Opeongo. 

You can easily get to Booth from Opeongo - I am not sure how far the taxi will bring you, but the opeongo river is a nice paddle with 6 pretty easy portages.  Another option would be to try gate 17 @ Madawaska, it is an easier in/out, a little further drive for you, but 2 short easy portages.  The Algonquin Bound office on 60 at Major Lake rd are a great outfitter (as is Algonquin Bound at Opeongo). 


4/14/2017 7:50 am  #16

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

The taxi will drop you off at the dam at the foot of annie's bay. Basically right at the first portage. Its a long car shuttle between Ope and booth however.


4/14/2017 8:10 am  #17

Re: Sightseeing on Canoe ROutes

I forgot about those taxis.  I had assumed it was a paddle up Opeongo which I know can get some rough waters.  Good tip.  Can shuttle up, and paddle back for an in/out maybe.

At any rate, taking our advice I'll present the options to my son and let him figure out which trip looks most appealing.

     Thread Starter

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