trip map canoers at dawn

Crew 27
Summer 2003
Canoe Trek


From 3 to 11 July 2003 Venturing Crew 27 went on a canoe trek in Algonquin Park in Ontario. We travelled from circuit in the park starting at the Lake Opeongo base, travelling a total distance of about 70 miles in 7 and 1/2 days of canoeing. We had nine venturers and three adults on the trek.

Algonquin Park is a large park on Ontario, known mostly as a canoeing park. There are thousands of good canoe trips that can be made in the park, ranging from an easy overnight trip to two-week trips of over 100 miles. Just about all the trips involve portaging, with a few portages around three miles long. Many circle routes can be done, but some of the best trips require a shuttle. Reservations are required; camping reservations are not for particular campsites instead being for any of the marked campsites on a particular lake. The lakes range in size from tiny to moderate, with Lake Opeongo being the largest lake in the park.

first campsite leaving lunch starting out We rented canoes from Opeongo Outfitters. They provided us with canoes, paddles, life jackets, whistles, and throw bags. We picked up the gear at our start point on Lake Opeongo. We paddled up the lake and had lunch at a vacant campsite. We met a few other groups on the lake, but far fewer than we had expected. After lunch we made the first of our many portages, to Happy Isle Lake, and camped on an island in Happy Isle Lake. We found many excellent campsites during the trek, most of which had considerable improvements.

rest stop down the river second day start The next day we continued through Merchant Lake and on to Big Trout Lake, with short portages to get to each lake and a short stretch on a stream. We camped on another excellent campsite on Big Trout Lake. During this part of the trip we saw very few other people, only about one other group per day after we got out of Lake Opeongo.

moose cow and calf through the grass third day start The next day we set out in absolutely calm conditions (which didn't last). We travelled down the upper Petawawa River through Longer Lake to Burntroot Lake. The lower Petawawa is a well-known whitewater river, but the upper Petawawa is mostly placid with marshy edges. We had only two very short portages around small rapids that were too shallow to run. The marshy edges of the river and lakes are prime habitat for moose.

Catfish Lake at dawn running rapids just paddling along On the fourth day we travelled down the Petawawa River again, through Petawawa Lake to Catfish Lake. There are a few small rapids on this trip. One we had to portage, but the others we managed to run. Catfish Lake was the furthest we travelled from Lake Opeongo.

strangers portage start river work The next day we started travelling back towards Lake Opeongo, but we took a different route. We make three portages, including one of 2 kilometers, to arrive at Hogan Lake. We had to struggle against a stiff head-wind and moderate chop on the lake. We camped on an island in Hogan Lake, with spectacular views of the lake and its surroundings.

Hogan Lake sunrise Hogan Lake sunset Hogan Lake

escaping a river following the group starting the day The next day we had our longest portage, a 3.8 kilometer portage to Big Crow Lake. We managed to single trip all our portages, with the first to finish going back to help the stragglers. Portaging a large canoe on the longer portages was not the easiests of tasks. We then crossed Big Crow Lake and travelled up the Crow River to Little Crow Lake and then to Proulx Lake.

battling the winds last portage On our second-last day we portaged to Lake Opeongo and travelled back towards our access point. We had a stiff head-wind on Lake Opeongo and a nasty chop to contend with. That evening we camped on Lake Opeongo about one mile from the access point. On the last morning we canoed out to the access point where the outfitters picked up their gear and we headed back to Westfield.

Comments

This was not an easy trek, and certainly would not have been suitable for novices. The weather really cooperated—we had rain every day, but for a total of only 15 minutes overall. On the other hand, we did have head winds just about every day.