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9/11/2015 9:32 am  #1

Pen lake questions

I'm taking a buddy to Algonquin this weekend. He's never been interior camping (immigrated from a country that has never heard of a canoe!). I chose Pen Lake because it's just one portage in, enough to show him what portaging is but not enough to discourage him, and there are some things to do (Pen Falls, Pictograph rock on Rock Lake, trip to Clydegale, etc.) if we get bored. I want to give him a taste of Algonquin and a positive experience so he'll want to come back.

Edit: It's my first non-solo trip to the park. Most people are nervous about soloing. I'm nervous about "entertaining" someone.

Now, due to work, we can't go in until Saturday morning. All the conventional "best" sites will be taken for sure (east side halfway down, the "beach site", the island and peninsula sites), so I'm just wondering, "Does anyone have any experience with the site at the north end of the lake?"  It's out of the way of the main course of travel. If it is empty, should we go out of our way (remembering he's a novice and I'm trying to minimize distances) to take it, or just pass it by?

2nd question: Where precisely are the petroglyphs indicated on Jeff's map at the portage from Rock to Pen?

3rd: Any other things we should do or look at in the vicinity?

Thanks for reading.


Last edited by LaLoche (9/11/2015 9:41 am)


9/11/2015 10:12 am  #2

Re: Pen lake questions

That site in the eastern bay at the north end is big and has a lot of space back under the trees. I don't remember anything particularly negative about it - but everyone has their own preferences. 

If you want a more adventurous portage, head up to Gem Lake. The lake doesn't look like much when you first get to it, but it has some beautiful cliffs once you paddle out a bit. Gem is pretty small with no campsites so you will likely have it to yourselves. It's also stocked with Brookies, so if the temps drop a bit you might be able to catch one. 


9/11/2015 10:35 am  #3

Re: Pen lake questions

Thanks! Great advice! I was thinking of bringing my fly rod, too.

     Thread Starter

9/11/2015 10:38 am  #4

Re: Pen lake questions

LaLoche wrote:

2nd question: Where precisely are the petroglyphs indicated on Jeff's map at the portage from Rock to Pen?
Read starting middle of page 58, and especially p 61.


9/12/2015 1:08 pm  #5

Re: Pen lake questions

You can also paddle the Galipo river and check out the small waterfalls along the way.
If you want, on your way out, you can stop by the Barclay's estate and explore the ruins or hike Booth's Rock trail.


9/14/2015 8:07 pm  #6

Re: Pen lake questions

Thanks everybody! We had a great weekend. Although the forecast looked unfavourable for Saturday, the day turned out to be fine.
I gave my friend some brief paddling instruction and off we went. We had a slight tailwind across Rock Lake, inspected the rock face for pictographs -- I can never find them!--and headed up to Pen Lake. We saw a loon and a heron, and by the end of the afternoon he could identify spruce, hemlock, balsam, cedar, and white pine. Saw the falls on the river, but didn't look for the petroglyphs. (Thanks DanPM, that was informative reading---I love to read the original sources.)

We managed to get the campsite on the north end of the peninsula (former island), set up camp, went foraging for wood on the mainland, built a fire, cooked some chicken and asparagus, and watched caveman TV. It was great to see the things I take for granted through fresh eyes.
Sunday about 2 a.m. It started raining and rained on and off for the rest of the day. My buddy took it in stride, and learned how to lift and portage a canoe in the rain (very carefully). Then how to attach a canoe to the car in the rain without swearing.
So overall a great weekend. Thanks to everyone for your advice. Next time we may hit Gem Lake and the Gallipeau River, but baby steps...
Today at work he was proudly showing photos of his trip to all who would listen. Good job, AA!

     Thread Starter

9/15/2015 9:18 am  #7

Re: Pen lake questions

Very nice!  It sounds like you made a convert!


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