Canoe Tripping

Everybody must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.”                                                       attributed (alas, wrongly!) to Henry Thoreau.

Scroll down to see trip reports on any of the areas highlighted on the map. They are ordered from west to east.


Click on a specific  area name to jump directly to the related posts:

Bloodvein; Wabakimi; Steel; Missinaibi; 

Lady Evelyn River; Temagami; French River;

NE Georgian Bay Coast; Coulonge; Ottawa. 


Most Recent (mid-Sept 2022)

Click here – NE Ontario’s Chiniguchi/Sturgeon Canoe Route

2022 Route overview

chini-sturgeon route overview

Introduction –  Off To Chiniguchi

  • Some Trip Highlights
  • Logistics;
  • Maps: NRC Topos;David Crawshay’s iOs Topo Canada; the NRC Toporama web site; Ottertooth; Hap Wilson; Chrismar Adventure Map; Jeff’s Temagami Map

Day-By-Day Reports – Maps, Images, portage and campsite info, etc.

  • Day 1: Matagamasi Put-In to Northeast Arm
  • Day 2: Northeast Arm To Wolf Lake
  • Day 3: Wolf Lake to the Top of Chiniguchi Lake
  • Day 4: Chiniguchi Lake to Sturgeon River
  • Day 5: Sturgeon River To Below Lower Goose Falls
  • Day 6: From Below Lower Goose Falls To Kelly Lake
  • Day 7: Kelly Lake To Carafel Lake
  • Day 8: Carafel Lake To Kukagami Lake (Sportsman’s Inn)


The Bloodvein River System: From Top To Bottom


Woodland Caribou Provincial Park / Atitkaki Provincial Park

Canoeing The Bloodvein River System – A Bit of History, Maps, Planning, and Access

Bloodvein Canoe Tripping: Some Images We Paddled Into


Part One: The Bloodvein Headwaters & Woodland Caribou Park         

Day 1:Trout Bay To Crystal Lake 

Day 2: Crystal Lake to the Portage Into Knox Lake                                               

Day 3: Knox Lake To Murdock Lake                                                                         

Day 4: Murdock Lake To Larus Lake 

 Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites on the Bloodvein: The Murdock-Larus Site   

Day 5: Larus Lake to Barclay Lake                                                                           

Day 6: Barclay Lake to Artery Lake         

Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of the Bloodvein: The Artery Lake Site


Part Two: The Bloodvein River from Artery to Lake Winnipeg

Day 7: Artery Lake to “Moosebone” Rapids

Day 8:  From Moosebone Rapids to X-Rock Rapids                                               

Day 9:  From X-Rock to Just Before Goose Rapids                                                 

Day 10:  From Goose Rapids to The Bloodvein-Gammon Junction                        

Day 11:  From The Bloodvein-Gammon Junction to Kautunigan L.                         

Day 12:  From Kautunigan Lake to Gorge Rapids (W56)                                          

Day 13:  From Gorge Rapids to Sharp Rock Rapids (W73)                                     

Day 14: From Sharp Rock Rapids To Namay Falls (W80)                                        

Day 15:  From Namay Falls to Lagoon Run” (W86)                                               

Day 16:  From Lagoon  Run to Below Kasoos… Rapids (W88)                              

Day 17: From Kasoos Rapids to Bloodvein First Nation to Red Lake, ON

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The Greater Wabakimi Area:

Wabakimi area water we’ve paddled over the past decade

See the following overview post for some of the scenic highlights of canoe tripping in Wabakimi Country.

A Paddler’s List of Wabakimi’s Top Six    


1. Down Wabakimi’s Allanwater River To Whitewater Lake

On our first visit to Wabakimi, we took the train from Armstrong to Allanwater Bridge and then paddled the route you see on the map below over a ten-day period. Our vehicle was waiting for us at the south end of Little Caribou Lake. After this trip, we were hooked on Wabakimi!


Introduction, Logistics, and Maps

Day-By-Day Trip Report


2. Down the Flindt River to Collins Via the Ogoki, the Palisade, the Grayson, and the Boiling Sand Rivers

Thanks to our first trip, we returned the next summer (2011). This time we had fifteen days. Starting at the CN tracks at Flindt Landing on the southwest side of the park, we paddled the route you see in red on the map below.

wabakimi routes in rough

Introduction, Logistics, and Maps

Days 1 and 2 – Down The Flindt River From the CN Tracks

Days 3 and 4 – The Flindt and Ogoki Rivers

Days 5 and 6 – The Ogoki, the Palisade, and the Grayson Rivers

Days 7 and 8 – The Grayson River and Whitewater Lake

The Ogoki Lodge and The Beckwith Cabins: “All Things Must Pass”

Days 9 and 10 – McKinley Bay To Smoothrock Lake

Days 11 to 15 – From Smoothrock Lake To Collins Via the Boiling Sand River

The posts below are the original, less-organized and less detailed versions of the  posts above. Thanks to the ongoing COVID pandemic I was able to do some more work on them and make them more useful to potential Wabakimi paddlers.

Basic Itinerary and Images

Smoke Over Wabakimi- Canoeing In A Season of Fires


3. From Allanwater Bridge to the Kopka R. via the Brightsand, Kashishibog Rivers

For the third summer in a row we drove back up to Wabakimi, a 1800-km. trip from southern Ontario. This time instead of heading north from the CN tracks we headed south and, after paddling up the Brightsand and Kashishibog Rivers, entered the headwaters of the Kopka River.  We followed it all the way down to Bukemiga Lake and the access road to Hwy. 527, where Clem Quenville was waiting to shuttle us up to our vehicle in Armstrong.


Canoe Trip Plans: From Allanwater Bridge to the Kopka

A Tale of Three Rivers: Being An Account of a Trip By Canadian Canoe Up The Brightsand and Kashishibog Rivers and Down the Kopka


4. Down The Misehkow and Albany Rivers…

2013 route overview

bush plane insertion and 220 miltes of paddling and portaging

and then back south via Petawa Creek,  Hurst Lake, the Witchwood River, the Raymond River, and the Pikitigushi River to the side of the road from Armstrong Stn. where a Mattice lake Outfitter shuttle was waiting.  We were back for the fourth summer in a row!

At 17 solid days, this was one of our longer trips and it still remains my brother’s favourite. It really was an epic made more interesting because of the gaps in the information we had on what was coming up. Our posts should help clarify more of what you’ll paddle into.

Overview: Paddling The Perimeter of Wabikimi Provincial Park

Wabakimi Canoe Trip Plans: Misehkow, Albany, Witchwood, Raymond, Pikitigushi Rivers

Canoeing Wabakimi’s Misehkow River

Paddling the Albany River (From the Mouth of the Misehkow to Petawanga Lake)

Up Wabakimi’s Petawa Creek Without A Paddle

Paddling From Auger Lake to Felsia Lake (The Mouth of the Witchwood River)

A Two_Day Paddle Up Wabakimi’s Witchwood River System

Up Wabakimi’s Raymond River to Cliff Lake

Down Wabakimi’s Pikitigushi River From Cliff Lake


5. The Pikitigushi River From Cliff Lake To Windigo Bay 

After an absence of a few summers when we did trips down the Bloodvein,  the Coulonge,  Temagami, and the French River area, we were back for an early September trip.  We flew into Cliff Lake, one of our favourite Wabakimi spots, and then paddled the route you see sketched on the map below.

The first part of the adventure ended with a descent of the Pikitigushi to Windigo Bay from the Armstrong Road. We could find no record or information from anyone having done it.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable two-day paddle!


From Cliff Lake To Lake Nipigon:  Logistics. Maps, and Day 1 – Cliff Lake

From Cliff Lake To Lake Nipigon:  Days 2 & 3 – From Cliff Lake to The Bear Camp

From  Cliff Lake  To Lake Nipigon:  Days 3, 4, &5 – From The Bear Camp To Windigo Bay

The second part of the trip had the potential for some real drama since we paddled out into Lake Nipigon. Making use of a string of islands that stretches from Windigo Bay to Gull Bay, we spent three days on the lake before hitting the mainland at Echo Rock near Jackfish Island. We returned to Hwy 599 via the Wabinosh.  On the way, we looked for a reported WWII prisoner-of-war camp a local had told us about before the start of the trip.

The NW Corner of  Lake Nipigon: Windigo Bay To Echo Rock

Canoeing From Lake Nipigon’s Echo Rock To Waweig Lake


6. Wabakimi’s Upper Ogoki River: From Top To Bottom (Almost!)

In July of 2021 we were dropped off by a MLO Beaver in Endogoki Lake, the headwaters lake of the Ogoki River. Our plan was to paddle all the way down to the Waboose Dam at the east end of the Ogoki Reservoir, before following the redirected upper Ogoki’s water down the Little Jackfish.  As the first couple of posts below reveal, we experienced some “challenges” during the first few days! They were followed by a week and a half of drama-free paddling down the Ogoki to the Waboose Dam and on to the Little Jackfish.

We now have some new Wabakimi highlights to add to our post on A Paddler’s List of Wabakimi’s Top Six Scenic Spots!

The Ogoki River From Top To Bottom

Bushwhacking The Ogoki Headwaters: Endogoki Lake Days 1 & 2

Bushwhacking The Ogoki Headwaters: Days 3, 4, and 5

A Two-Day Paddle Across the Ogoki’s Whitewater Lake

Down The Ogoki – From Above Ogoki Falls To Whiteclay Lake’s NE Arm

Down The Ogoki – From Whiteclay Lake (NE Arm) To The Ogoki Reservoir (Two Mile Bay)

Canoeing The Ogoki Reservoir: From Eight Flume Falls to “Moose Crossing”

Canoeing The Ogoki Reservoir – From “Moose Crossing” To The Waboose Dam

Paddling The Ogoki Reservoir From Waboose Dam To South Summit Dam

Paddling Down The Little Jackfish River From The Summit Dam To Zigzag Lake

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The Steel River System:

Steel River Provincial Park and surrounding parks

Canoeing Ontario’s Steel River system: Introduction, Maps, and Approaches

Canoeing the Steel River – Day One – The Diablo Portage

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Two – Portaging Into Cairngorm Lake

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Three – From Cairngorm Lake To Steel Lake

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Four – Steel Lake

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Five – Heading South On The Steel River

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Six – Rainbow Falls

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Seven – Meandering Our Way To Santoy Lake

Canoeing The Steel River – Day Eight – Santoy Lake/Our View Of The Steel As a Canoe Trip

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The Little Missinaibi River From Top To Bottom – Introduction, Maps, Logistics

A Day-By-Day Account of our Nine Days in Missinaibi Country:

Day 1 – From Healey Bay To Ramhill Lake

Day 2 – From Ramhill Lake To Below Sunset Lake/Key Lake

Day 3 – From Below Rawhide Lake To Mukwa Falls (Woods Lake Rd Crossing)

Day 4 – From Mukwa Falls To Little Missinaibi Lake

Day 5 – From Little Missinaibi Lake To Admiral Falls

The Pictographs of Little Missinaibi Lake

Day 6 – From Admiral Falls To Whitefish Falls on Missinaibi Lake

Day 7 – From Whitefish Falls on Missinaibi Lake To Red Granite Point

The Anishinaabe Pictograph Sites of Missinaibi Lake

Day 8 – From Red Granite Point To Crooked Lake Island Site

Day 9 & Day 10 –  From Crooked Lake To Missanabie/ From Missanabie  Via  Train  To Healey Bay and On To Southern Ontario

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1. Montreal River/ Smoothwater Lake/ Scarecrow Lake/ Sturgeon River/ Wawiagama/ Obabika Lake/ Diamond Lake/ Tupper Lake etc.

Temagami: Paddling From Peak to Peak (Ishpatina Ridge to Maple Mtn.)


2. Lake Temagami/Obabika L. / Chee-skon L. / Bob L./ Diamond L./ Wakimika L./

Early Autumn Canoeing In The Heart Of Temagami

 A Return Visit To Temagami’s Diamond Lake Pictograph Site


3. Ferguson Bay/Diamond Lake/ Lady Evelyn Lake/ Hobart Lake/Tupper Lake

Paddling To Temagami’s Maple Mountain

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4. The Lady Evelyn From Top To Bottom


Temagami’s Lady Evelyn River From Top To Bottom: Introduction and a Bit of History

The Lady Evelyn River From Top To Bottom: Route Options, Maps, Shuttles, Permits, And More

Day 1 – To the Put-In And Up The Montreal River To Smoothwater Lake

Day 2From Smoothwater Lake To An “It’ll Do” CS  On Lady Evelyn’s South Branch

Day 3 – From Our “It’ll Do” Campsite To Florence Lake

Day 4 – On Florence Lake

Day 5 – From Florence Lake To Just Below The Forks of the Lady Evelyn

Day 6 – From Just Below The Forks to Macpherson Lake Island CS

Day 7 – From Macpherson Lake To The South Channel’s Bridal Veil Falls

Day 8 – From Bridal Veil Falls To The Bottom of the South Channel

Day 9 – From The South Channel To The West End of Lady Evelyn Lake

Days 10 & 11 – From The West End of Lady Evelyn lake to Mowat Landing

5. Random Temagami-Related Posts

Temagami’s Lady Evelyn of the Lake – Who Was She?

Robert Bell’s Lady Dufferin Lake: It’s Not Where You Think It Is!


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French River: From Top To Bottom

Canoeing The French: Intro, Logistics, Planning, and Maps

Day 1 – Lake Nipissing’s West Bay

Day 2 – From Lafleche Point To Canoe Pass

Day 3 – From Canoe Pass To Below The Portage Channel Dam

Day 4 – Down the Five Mile Rapids Section of the Upper French River

Day 5 – From CS419 To Below Recollet Falls

Days 6 and 7 – To Pickerel Bay and Down Fox Creek to Georgian Bay

Days 8 and 9 – Across The French River Delta From East to West

Days 10 and 11 –  From Georgian Bay to Hartley Bay Marina


NE Georgian Bay/French River Delta:

an introductory post to the north an east coast of Georgian Bay-

Georgian Bay’s North and East Coast – Paddlers’ Eye Candy 

Georgian Bay

A Four-Day Canoe Trip Around Philip Edward Island:

Philip Edward Island canoe trip route

Paddling Around Georgian Bay’s Philip Edward Island – Part One

Paddling Around Georgian Bay’s Philip Edward Island – Part Two


From Killarney’s Chikanishing Creek to Snug Harbour 


Kayaking Georgian Bay  – From Killarney To Snug Harbour – Intro & Logistics

Days 1 & 2  Chikanishing Creek To Solomons Island to NE of Point Grondine

Days 3 & 4  Point Grondine To The Bustards’ Tanvat Island To S of Byng Inlet

Days 5 & 6  S of Byng Inlet To Hangdog I. Channel To Garland Island (Minks)

Days 7 & 8  Garland Island to Franklin Island To Snug Harbour


The French River Delta and the Bustard Islands:

overview of our 110 km. Ramble in the Delta

Logistics, Maps  & Day 1 (Hartley Bay To the French River’s “The Elbow”)

Day 2 – From The Elbow to the Bustards

Day 3 – From the Bustards To Eagle Next Point (West boundary of Park)

Day 4 – From Eagle Nest Point to East of the Fingerboard

Day 5 – To Bass Creek And The Park’s East Side

Day 6 – From the Georgian Bay Coast Up To Pickerel Bay (The Elephants)

Day 7 – From Pickerel Bay To Hartley Bay To Recollet Falls To Home

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The Coulonge River:

Canoeing The  Algonquin Heartland: From The Coulonge River Headwaters To  Ottawa (Select Pix)

Canoeing Quebec’s Coulonge River System – Introduction, Maps, Day-By-Day Reports

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 1: Lac Larouche (Km 271) To Lac Grand (Km 253)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 2: Headwater Lakes – To Lac Ward (Km 217)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 3: From Lac Ward To “Tall Pine Rapids” (Km 187)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 4: From Tall Pine Rapids (Km 183) To Km 157

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 5: Km 156 to The Corneille Confluence (Km 121)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 6: Km 121 to Km 99 (across from Carmichael Creek)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 7: Km 99 to “Die Hard” Rapids (Km 81)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 8: From Die Hard Rapids to Rapides Enragés (Km 60)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 9: From Rapides Enragés To Chute A L’Ours (Km 43)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 10: From Chute A L’Ours To Chutes Coulonge (Km 15)

Paddling The Coulonge – Day 11: From Chutes Coulonge (Km 13) To The Ottawa River (km 0)


The Ottawa River:

Fort Coulonge To Ottawa (The Rideau Locks)


Canoeing The Ottawa River: Introduction, Maps, Campsites and More

Canoeing The Ottawa – Day 1: The Rocher Fendu’s Middle Channel

Canoeing The Ottawa – Day 2: Rocher Fendu To Portage du Fort

Canoeing The Ottawa – Day 3: Portage du Fort To Baie Du Chat/Arnprior

Canoeing The Ottawa – Day 4: Baie du Chat To Baskins Beach

Canoeing The Ottawa – Day 5: Baskins Beach To Ottawa (Rideau Locks)

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28 Responses to Canoe Tripping

  1. Love your blog! I’m planning a 30 day trip and it’s been so helpful reading your posts and hearing about your adventures! Right now I’m planning on either the Albany or Flindt River both would end on Lake Nipigon. I’m curious about your thoughts on both the rivers, and which you have enjoyed more. Or if there are other rivers in the area just as good!

  2. true_north says:

    Girlonthetrail – if you are looking for nice views, this trip should provide you with some!

    Thirty days – what an epic circular paddle that would be! We spent 17 days to do our version of what you’re thinking of. You plan on doing this solo or with someone in the bow? Where are you coming from – southern Ontario? Manitoba? Is there room in your budget for a bush plane pick-up or drop-off?

    So many options with a thirty day window to play with though a solo trip would slow you down somewhat – always having gone tripping with my bro I have no real idea of how that would impact!

    If you wanted the Albany to be a part of the trip, you’d access the Albany at Osnaburgh Lake off Highway 599 and then paddle down to Petawanga Lake or even further to the mouth of the Attwood River. We only spent four days on the Albany from the mouth of the Misehkow to Petawanga Lake and had four portages – all around major rapids/falls- to deal with. Just above the Misehkow/Albany junction is a long stretch of whitewater with some challenges. Doing the Albany would expose you to a more majestic river with some very scenic spots. Ken Kokanie and his canoe pal did the route from Osnaburgh Lake to Miminiska Lake and posted a useful 1 50000 map set. My Albany River post has a link to his site.

    Your biggest decision would be where to leave the Albany and start heading south. Once on Petawanga you could redo our path south to Lake Nipigon via Petawa Creek and the Witchwood, Raymond, and Pikitigushi River systems. Or you could keep on going down the Albany to the mouth of the Attwood River system and paddle it all the way back up to Hurst Lake before turning south to the Witchwood River system towards Whiteclay Lake and the Raymond River system. We went for the shorter option but it did mean a hard day on Petawa Creek!

    You could avoid the top bit of the Albany by doing what we did. We came down to the Albany from the Misehkow after flying in to Rockliff Lake near its headwaters from Mattice Lake near Armstrong Station. It was a nice four-day paddle with a couple of 800 meter portages.

    In terms of logistics and keeping costs down, the Flindt River might make a good entry point. It is mostly a series of narrow lakes with the occasional set of rapids. It is just not as big a river as the Albany. You could take the train from Armstrong Station to Flint Landing and set off from there. Once down at Wabakimi Lake and further to Kenoji Lake you could either head Northwest to Burntrock Lake and on to the Misehkow River and then the Albany , a more ambitious route –
    you could go down the Ogoki from Kenoji to Whitewater Lake and then on down to the east end of Whiteclay Lake before doing what we did – going up the Raymond and down the Pikitigushi to Lake Nipigon, or close to it. The second option would have you avoid the Albany altogether and would take less time. You’d be doing something few have done recently if you paddled the Pikitigushi right to Lake Nipigon. See the end of the following post for some info on the river as it nears Lake Nipigon –

    On thing for sure – you are not going to be seeing a lot of other paddlers! Make sure you have a SPOT Connect or a sat phone and maybe talk with the people at Mattice Lake Outfitters beforehand about emergency bush plane extraction if you run into something unmanageable. They might also be able to arrange a food drop off of half your food load somewhere near the half way point of the trip – unless it is no big deal to take it all with you on Day 1. My bro and I had 75 pounds of food for eighteen days – two pounds per person per day. Something to keep in mind – most of the portaging comes in the second half of the trip and by that time half your food will be gone!

    Good luck with your planning. I’m sure all of the above didn’t clarify anything! No one knows better than you your skill level and experience so I’m sure you’ll come up with a route that fits you. Let me know what you decide to do! Send me an email if you have any other questions…

  3. Mike says:

    I have read your posts about Wabakimi and appreciate the excellent quality and detail that you provide. A friend and I have been planning a trip to Cliff Lake for the first week of June and we need some help. Can you recommend any maps for the area that will work with Garmin? Right now I have just printed your maps off of your blog. The Wabakimi Project is working on paper maps that might be ready before we leave on May 26. Thank you.

    • true_north says:

      Mike, you lucky guys! Cliff Lake is on our list of places we have to get back to!

      Re: the Garmin mapset. I ended up buying the Garmin Topo Canada version 4.0 set for my Oregon 450 because I knew it would work seamlessly with the Garmin Basecamp app on my iMac. You can also just buy parts of the entire map set for slightly less than the CDN $115. it sells for. People have been known to download illegal copies on the net and they often work okay.

      The best maps – but without portage and rapids information – are the Federal Govt 1:50000 topo maps. They are available for free download at the government website (here) or you can go to for a more user-friendly and visual approach.

      The Wabakimi Project maps are a smaller scale so we find the 1:50000 more useful for actual navigation. The Project maps are great for portage, rapids, and campsite locations. The Wabakimi Project crews were in the area in 2014 and worked on some of the portages that we found in pretty rough shape – like the one from Derraugh Lake into Pikitigushi Lake.

      You don’t mention how you’re getting there and what your route is. I may be able to help you out with more details or maps. Just send me an email with the details of your route and I’ll see what I have.

      • Anonymous says:

        We are entering at Caribou with a tow to Linklater and then down the Big R. To Gort. That is an area cleared and marked bt Wab. Pjt. last year. They may have that ready for us by the time we leave which will help…but it may not be ready.

      • true_north says:

        We’ve stared at that area ourselves! Congrats for taking it on – looks to be a bit of work but early season water levels should help. It will make for a great trip report! Needless to say, any useful maps of your route will have to wait until you post yours!

        Re: your tow – are you getting towed all the way down Caribou lake to Kellar Bay and then do you portage into Linklater? After you paddle up to Cliff Lake from Gort Lake are you coming back the same way?

      • Anonymous says:

        Tow into Kellar Bay and dropped at the port. Coming out via Pickitagushi and Boucher’s bear camp. I am a bit apprehensive about the Big R because I saw a report that it is a real bugger in low water. I am counting on spring water levels to facilitate passage. We will have 8 days from entry to exit. Did you look for a potential campsite on Gort?

      • true_north says:

        Now I get it! You save 30 kilometres of paddling by getting towed from the end of the Caribou Lake road all the way up to Kellar Bay. If you wanted to paddle, there is Little Caribou Lake – long and narrow and more like a river – that goes up quite a ways and then there is the shelter of a series of islands as you make your way into Kellar Bay. But a tow is always plush and also way cheaper than a bush plane insertion!

        Re: campsites on Gort. There is apparently one on the east side of the river going up into Ratte Lake from Gort Lake. On your return further down there is supposedly one at the end of the portage going into Derraugh Lake from Wash Lake. We ran the easy C1 rapids (YMMV!) and did not see the site. You can camp on the Bad Medicine portage – on the flat part on top – if need be although you will almost be at Cliff Lake by then so finishing the job might be best! After the trip is all done you will definitely remember doing the Bad Medicine portage! It will be worse going up to Cliff Lake.

        You should be good with eight days. It will allow you at least a couple on Cliff Lake. You could sample different campsites!

        The maps in my post should be all you need for the Cliff Lake to the Boucher Bear Camp stretch of the Pikitigushi. Can’t help you with the Big River section. The fact that a Wabakimi Project crew went through recently and groomed the portage trails should make it less daunting. I hope Phil or Barry can send you at least copies of the particular pages that apply to your route in the next little while.

        Enjoy your time with the pictographs!

  4. Johnny says:

    Thinking of doing the missinabi, bloodvein, or wabakimi trip. Can you let me know how the bugs and portages are for these trips? Thanks in advance.

    • true_north says:

      Johnny, I just got back from a three week trip down the Coulonge River system to Ottawa – so I missed your question by a couple of days!

      Bugs is a difficult one to predict. For example, we did not use deet once on our trip this summer. For the past three or four years we have been giving our clothes a permethrin treatment – the lack of bugs may be due to that. We did not find the Bloodvein or Wabakimi to be especially buggy on trips we did in July or August or early September. We think that there is a sweet spot in mid-August when they tend to be least around.

      Re: portages.
      Bloodvein, once on Artery Lake and then on down to Lake Winnipeg is not a big deal. Lots of shelf rapids with easy portagr trails around them, all indicated with flagging tape the summer of 2014 when we went down.

      Wabakimi is a bit wilder and less travelled but Phil Cotton’s Wabakimi Project crew has done an incredible job mapping and actually establishing the portage trails. All you need is the map set for the area you’ll be in.

      It has been at least twenty years since we did the entire Missinaibi and we haven’t been on the upper stretch down to Mattice in 15 years but the portage trails are well-established and the Hap Wilson guide book is an invaluable source of info on the challenges you will face. Also lots of trip reports out there to give you more recent observations.

      Really, you can’t go wrong with any of your trip choices! I hope you had a good time. Let me know how it went!

  5. Brian says:

    1st off. Love your site. I, like yourself, enjoy researching trip details. I thought I was pretty good at it. Then I read some of your trips and realized there was a next level. you appear to be approaching Jedi status. Just great. Anyway, I paddled pei south of Killarney this aug. your blog certainly helped on that one. A short w/e trip to north tea lake in Algonquin, and a 5 nighter in pukaskwa on the coastal trail.

    Planning on wakakami next fall (I don’t start tripping til middle of aug earliest). Thinking Allenwater to little caribou. U did it in 10 days I believe, so I’m hoping, even solo, to do in 10 as well. Then since I’m up there anyway, perhaps 3-4 nights in quetico as it’s a 20 hr + drive for me. But, after the wabakami trip, will prolly find a spot south of emerald island, set up a base camp, and just day trip.

    My question though, is, when u did the wabakami trip I’m looking @, what was your worst portage, and, how bad was it. I’m humming and hawing whether to take my canoe or kayak, and the deal breaker are the portages. Thanks for all your input, and, it is truly appreciated

    • true_north says:

      Brian, you picked some nice spots to paddle this summer! Was Pukaskwa a hike or a kayak trip?

      Wabakimi would certainly make for a great destination. The trip you’re wondering about was our first visit in 2010; we returned three more summers after that!

      Re: canoe or kayak? My bro and I agree that canoe is the way to go. I’ll admit that neither of us have any experience portaging a kayak solo but there are enough portages – even if none are really long – that we can’t imagine it would be much fun. Better to go with a craft designed for exactly the terrain you’ll be travelling through.

      As to whether you can git ‘er dun in ten days – that depends on how relentless you are! My bro and I are definitely lean to the relentless side; we don’t even fish along the way and see oursleves as canoe trippers as opposed to campers. The nice thing about the route is that if you find yourself not covering the distance you hoped to you can shorten it. After going down the Allanwater into Wakbakimi Lake you could, if behind schedule, turn south and enter Lower Wabakimi Lake and head for the exit point on Little Caribou Lake. Or you could go down the Ogoki River and head back at the mouth of Berg River …

      BTW – the Allanwater post is one of the first I ever wrote! I reread it this morning and thought – “What a disorganized mess!” Nice to hear you found it useful. I laughed out loud when I saw that comment about approaching Jedi status! You are right about the obsessive level of detail. I’ve taken 35 years of preparing material for my high school students and applied it to our vcanoe trips! My wife has been known to roll her eyes as I tell her there is just a bit more to explain before a post is done!

      Best of luck with your plans. We may well return next summer too!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve been thinking something along the lines of this for portaging the kayak. Haha. I should prolly test it out on something easier than a 10 day trip north of thunder Bay I suppose. but I still may lean towards my canoe. I have a bit to figure it out. I do like the kayaks, especially solo, on rougher water.

        And I hiked in and out (not entire trail). 6 days, 5 nights. Pretty nice scenery for sure. Weather changed about 3 times a day. A tough trail for sure. McLean’s magazine had it @ 4 for for the toughest trails in Canada (mind you, it was by votes). But it was definitely rugged. But. Being on the southern tip of the boreal forest, and, having never Camped that far north before, it definitely made me want to go back (hence, wabakami).

        I do have another question though. Even though I think I know the answer. Why no Algonquin or killarney? My guess was that you guys prefer true wilderness. And the # of people prolly is an additional reason I’m guessing. But. Those are just guesses. O. I do love the shortcut idea if I’m lagging behind schedule. That’s actually pretty huge. And I don’t fish. And again, thanks for your help.

      • true_north says:

        I’ve seen that kayak yoke before – looks like fun! Some models provide better visibility but at the price of having the kayak up too high off your shoulders. Whle kayaks do have their plus points, portaging will never be one of them, especially if you are doing the carry on your own.

        In the mid-90’s I did the Pukaslwa coast in a kayak from Hattie Cove to Michipicoten. Awesome trip, incredible scenery…am thinking we may go back and do it in a canoe – but with a spray skirt! Bravo for walking that trail! Next up – the West Coast Trail on Van Island!

        haha – you’re right about Killarney and Algonquin. Way too many people and prebooking campsites is just not our style! I was last in Algonquin in the mid-1980’s and Killarney in the fall of ’96. Both are okay if you do them off-season like the week we just spent in the French River delta. Wabakimi gets maybe 1/100th the visitors that those southern Ontario parks do!

        You’ll have lots of time to mull things over before it comes time to strap that canoe – or kayak! – to your car top. Good luck!

      • Anonymous says:

        But the visibility factor is a good point

      • true_north says:

        It is – but a higher center of gravity isn’t!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all your help. Will probably be asking more next summer as September draws closer.

    Another fact is, my canoe isn’t the lightest. I’d have to weigh them to be sure, but it’s pretty close, and possible the canoe (Ya it’s on my list of very near(ish) future purchases) weighs more.

    I’ve also done part of the French. Pretty impressive. The Spanish is also on my radar via train

  7. Rob says:

    Hello, I just came across your blog and have briefly looked at many of the epic adventures you have had. What a great journey for a young person, although a bit too adventurous for someone like myself who is a senior. This best I can do is keep to the roads to see the Ontario.

    As a “Fire Buff” and someone who is interested in Ontario fire service histories, I was reading your review of your trip to Missanabie. It was interesting to see that a train still operates through the area. We recently stopped into Hawk Junction and the train services has been suspended and the train station abandoned.

    Although there wasn’t a lot about the fire department in Missanabie, I did see a few pictures, one of the fire hall and another of a fire truck near some construction trucks. I had tried contacting Ernie a few years ago, but he apparently didn’t want to communicate or share information about the fire service. Since I will probably never make it to Missanabie and with you taking a picture of the fire hall, I am hoping you will give me permission to place it in within my collection.

    Best regards and keep safe in your future adventures Rob

    PS: As already mentioned I have taken a look at some of your blogs, and as a retired safety professional I really appreciated seeing your willingness to share your experience, and offer safety tips to keep others safe.

    • true_north says:

      Rob, nice to hear that some of our photos of Missanabie caught your eye! We all have our little niches that keep us busy. Ours is pictographs and yours is fire halls! Feel free to use whatever images you want on your website.

      That train we took from Missanabie back to Healey Bay might make for a nice little three or four-day adventure for you. It goes from Sudbury to White River and stops at a few places like Chapleau and (if you want, Missanabie) along the way. You could hop on and off and get some neat fire hall photos at both ends and in some in-between spots too! In two days you could do a return trip!

      BTW I had to chuckle when I read the line – “What a great journey for a young person, although a bit too adventurous for someone like myself who is a senior.” The fact is – I was 66 when I did that trip last year and my young bro was 63! We think we can keep going into our 70’s. I keep repeating the line “Seventy is the new fifty”!

      Keep having fun doing your fire hall research – it is worth preserving the history and images.

  8. Brian c says:

    Good day. I’m heading up the James Bay road in northern Quebec. Plan to paddle out in james bay and camp in Nunavut (weather pending). Also just going to grab a lake or 2 and explore them as well. Have you done any investigating in this area by chance?

    • true_north says:

      Brian, sounds like an epic plan you have in mind!

      How far up that road from Mattagami are you going? There are a few rivers that you’ll be crossing that would take you down to James Bay. I am not familiar with any of them, having only come at James Bay from the Ontario side – down the Moose River a few times and once down the Attawapiskat.

      James Bay Road - Mattagami To Chisasibi

      You could drive all the way to the coast at Chisasibi and put in there. I grew up in Noranda some 250 km south of Mattagami – the road did not exist in those days! It must have been built as a part of the Baie James Project in the 1970’s.

      Then it would be 1400 kilometers of paddling on James and Hudson Bay to reach Nunavut! I am not sure what you understand by Nunavut. Is it the territory north of 60º or is it the islands in James Bay?

      Nunaut map

      As for paddling the waters of James Bay and Hudson Bay, I am sure you have considered the complications. If not, do read through this thread at the Canadian Canoe Routes forum. It should convince you that your plan would best be scrapped.

      CCR Forum thread – James Bay Paddling

      Grabbing a lake or two? Spend some time at the CCR site and see if any canoe trippers have done a trip in the past that looks like something you could do.

      • Brian c says:

        The plan is ile de fort George. And. As for venturing out to James Bay, I should clarify. As the river empties into James Bay, there’s a jut of land sticking out, which, for whatever odd reason, is officially Nunavut. We don’t plan on going very far. If the weather is an issue, we’ll just go on foot as it is landlocked. And. Hopefully not encounter a polar bear. And myccr. Right. I use it all the time. No idea why I didn’t think of it for this one. And do you know any websites that I can download topographic maps by chance. Appreciate your assistance. Brian

      • true_north says:

        Brian, nothing like a bit of detail to clarify things! I had no idea that Nunavut included those rocks and islands along the east shore of the Bay!

        Re: maps. The Natural Resources Canada website has the entire collection of 1:50,000 topos here –

        If you have the map sheet i.d. you’ll find it. Fort George, for example, is on the Île Goat Map – 033E15.

        This other Govt of Canada website is also worth looking at. It has newer material and you can zoom in –

        Enjoy your ride up and your paddle out – and back!

      • Brian c says:

        Ya. My bad. Sorry. And thanks for the info. Appreciate it. And. Perhaps now you can investigate the area. Again, your assistance is appreciated

  9. Dave Christie says:

    Hi. I have read many of your trip reports, and find them of superb quality and very interesting reading. I wonder if you could steer me towards your equipment choices and reasoning. Some folks advocate bullet proof royalex boats, and some favor the much lighter (and pricier!) carbon fiber ones. As someone in my mid-60’s and looking to purchase a canoe for some northern river tripping, I am considering a lightweight canoe, but my river experience is mostly in royalex boats. Can you offer some advice and your reasoning? Thanks

    • true_north says:

      Dave, we faced the same question in 2012.

      We had a 60-lb. 16′ fiberglass canoe and wanted something lighter. We often paddle on our own in areas which are far from help. We are also both in our 60’s and have our share of crazy river running stories from our 20’s and 30’s. These days we are a bit more deliberate and cautious!

      Those factors make the lack of expedition ruggedness of a lighter canoe like our Swift kevlar/carbon easier to justify.

      We went for the 42 lb. model with optional skid plates front and back and loved it. We did not baby it by any stretch. At the end of the second day of use – it was the Kopka trip – we flipped the canoe over and looked at the scratches. It hurt to look at them but it was just cosmetic – and it was proof that we were doing what we like to do. If we just stuck to paddling the lakes in Algonquin Park we wouldn’t get any scratches but we wouldn’t be where we wanted to be either.

      Fast forward to 2017. We paddled down a stretch of the Little Missinaibi that few if any paddlers have gone down in the past decade or two. Logjams, sweepers, beaver dams … we were a bit impatient and just hauled our loaded canoe over all obstacles. We ended up cracking the belly of the canoe. Our fault for treating it like a Royalex. Our excuse – it was just too awkward to unload the canoe in the middle of the river as we were making our way down. We dropped off the canoe at the Swift outlet on the way home and told them to do what needed to be done. Their solution – a new full-length belly. I will admit we were shocked when we weighed the refurbished canoe. We now have a 58-pound kevlar canoe but the crack is not an issue!

      If I were you, I’d get a lighter canoe. Given that your standard is a 72-lb. Royalex, maybe you don’t need to go to 42 lbs. Maybe 54 lbs. or so will already seem like featherweight! You’ll appreciate the lighter weight. If your Mad River Royalex is at one end of the weight line, then our new in 2012 Swift was at the other.

      As for the extra $ that a lighter canoe will cost you, the trick is to divide the extra $1000 to $2000. by the number of years you’ll be paddling it. Let’s say a conservative 10 years. So now you’re only looking at $100. a year for a (much) lighter canoe.

      In the past year, my brother and I have occasionally turned to the question of whether we should get another light(er) canoe. My biggest problem will be in explaining to my wife why there are now two canoes in our backyard!

  10. Jeff McColl says:

    Hi there, I would like to reference your paddle trips by rail for a written submission to this … zJ7-nDC300

    I feel this is an opportunity to represents paddlers interests in keeping and restarting passenger rail service to our remote places.
    Thanks Jeff McColl

    • true_north says:

      Jeff, go right ahead! Hopping off a train with your canoe and a lake or river just below the tracks is always a major thrill – and very Canadian! While we miss that Ontario Northland train, we have used the Sudbury-White River train and the VIA train on the CN tracks from Toronto to Winnipeg. We may get off at Savant Lake next summer for a trip north to the Albany River and east to Fort Hope.

Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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