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12/12/2016 10:10 am  #1

April trip suggestions

Hi all,

Looking to book a trip at the end of April. Looking to tackle the top loop of the Western Uplands, starting at Rain Lake. 

Anybody have trips they've done sticking to just the top loop? I'm open to 3-5 days to complete it. I'm looking at hiking into either Islet or Weed Lake for night 1; then onto either Tern or Gervais for night 2, then loop around to either East End or up to Brown for night 3, and out on day 4. 

I've tried to locate pictures of the campsites, but not having much luck. What I can gather is to avoid Ishkuday as apparently water access is non-existent there. Anybody have comments on these sites? Better sites I should look at? Thanks all!


12/13/2016 8:47 pm  #2

Re: April trip suggestions

I wouldn't get your heart set on a trip in late April. For the last several years the park has closed off all backcountry camping from a little before the fishing opener (4th Saturday in April) until the completion of ice-out, which could be into the first few days of May depending on nature's whims. If you get in before the closure the park might still be on winter rules, ie off-site camping away from the trail only.


12/14/2016 9:00 pm  #3

Re: April trip suggestions

Thanks for the heads up. I'll book for a May weekend then! When do the black flies and skeeters usually start to show up? Would May 12 still be avoiding them for the most part?

     Thread Starter

12/14/2016 9:25 pm  #4

Re: April trip suggestions

Most likely, yes, at least the worst of them. I often go to the park on the Victoria Day long weekend, and by then they might be starting to build but if I'm lucky they're still not at peak.


12/21/2016 2:20 pm  #5

Re: April trip suggestions

Hi Andrew,

I have done this route and in some ways prefer it over the 1st loop as it's generally quieter. In terms of sites, yes, stay away from Ishkuday! It can be hard to decide on sites sometimes, as I find a lot depends on what you're looking for. For me, I prefer solitude on my hikes (especially the solo ones), so I typically look for less used and more secluded spots.

The first 8+ kms is very easy hiking as it mostly follows an old rail bed, so going to Islet or Weed is easily doable. Weed is quite shaded, elevated from the water and is visible down from the trail. Islet of course has more selection, including some nice sites right on the lake, but with this comes more lake traffic (canoe) and possible camp noise - this may not be too much of a concern early in the season though. I haven't camped on either Islet or Weed Lake, but I personally find Islet more appealing.

As for Tern Lake, expect it to be shallow and weedy for quite a ways out from the site. I checked out the western site for a lunch stop this past season and found it to be kind of nice as it was a sunny day and water levels were low, allowing for relaxation on the open shoreline and access to a small rocky outcrop. However, I assume this  would be mostly submerged (or at least very mucky) in spring. Gervais may be a better bet - it's also a smaller lake, and shallow, but it has a nicer shoreline area for better water access and lounging around. Note though that Gervais is quite exposed from the trail (especially the thunderbox!). West Otterpaw is another option, but I don't think the sites are all that great (I think the western site by the water would be best, but I still prefer Gervais). 

East End Lake is another shallow and somewhat weedy place, but I find it to be a peaceful, quiet spot. There's a good chance you won't encounter another soul on this section of trail. The site has fire damage from several years back, but I suspect it's starting to become less noticeable now. Brown Lake is a much, much nicer body of water, and the sites are heavily used. From what I recall, views and water access are better at the southern site on Brown, but it is a much smaller area than the northern site and has zero privacy as it is right beside the trail (I'd prefer the northern site).

May 12 should be a great weekend to go, but I would recommend checking in to make sure that the Rain Lake road is passable as there have been spring washouts in the past. You'll likely be fine by mid-May, but just something to be aware of...

If you're still considering a 5 day/4 night trek, stays on South Pincher and Loft Lake may be good options. I can provide more info on this if you like. I'll see if I can dig up some pics in the next day or two as well. ​



Last edited by hiker72 (12/21/2016 5:14 pm)


12/22/2016 2:29 pm  #6

Re: April trip suggestions

Awesome, thanks Rich!

I've booked Weed, West Otterpaw and Brown for 3 nights/4 days. Even if they turn out to be less than ideal, I feel it's still worth the experience of knowing what constitutes a "bad" site vs a "good" site. 

I'll be on the trail with my pooch, and I too like the solitude, which it seems this loop would provide. I'll be hammock camping so not too concerned with ground conditions at the camp sites, but yeah a washout on Rain Lake would be problematic. Let's hope for great April weather!

Last edited by andrewr0520 (12/22/2016 2:30 pm)

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12/22/2016 6:41 pm  #7

Re: April trip suggestions

Glad to hear this Andrew.

I've never fully explored the Weed Lake site, but I'm guessing there are spots to hang out by the water as well - it will be quieter than Islet Lake which I think is a big plus. The 2 eastern sites on West Otterpaw are well away and higher up from the water and right by the trail, and I think the middle one is actually on the north side of the trail. The western site (first site on your hike) is by the water. I recall thinking that it didn't have a really great area to set up a tent, but that wouldn't be a problem with a hammock! 
All the best in your preparations and upcoming hike,



12/23/2016 9:53 am  #8

Re: April trip suggestions

Hey Andrew, I stayed at the easternmost site on West Otterpaw in October. As hiker72 Rich has noted, it is completely open to the trail, but it is high and has southern exposure in a mature pine forest. I slept on the ground in the flattest spot, but set up my 10.5 foot hammock tarp nearby on the site so as to have an in-case-of-rain breakfast sitting spot, so I know you have at least two trees there that will work for a hammock if the two western sites don't appeal to you. Water access was good; it's not very open down by the water, but the trail to the water ends in a nice flat rock at an opening in the tree cover. It was nice to sit on that rock and enjoy the sunset. Might be covered with water in the spring though. Still, water access looked a lot easier here than at the westernmost site. ( I don't remember anything at all about the site in between. That suggests to me that it was not as suitable as the others for my purposes).

Last edited by Methye (12/23/2016 9:56 am)


12/23/2016 11:57 am  #9

Re: April trip suggestions

Awesome picture! Thanks for the report!

     Thread Starter

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