Back Country Canoe Trips – First Installment !

August 2018 – Me relaxing on our private beach at Parkside Bay, Algonquin Park

I was going through old photos the other day,  from when we used to do a lot of back country canoe trips, or interior trips.   For those that aren’t familiar, these are trips whereby you have to paddle a lake to a spot on the lake where you have to unload your canoe and then portage your canoe/gear from one lake to another and then set up camp.  You can do one or several portages to get to your campsite.  The portage trails range anywhere and everywhere from “Wow what a fantastic flat, wide nice” trail to “Holy Crap I’m going to die on this narrow, winding, all uphill, over rocks and stumps” trail.

We used to do these trips every year but about six years ago, we were doing so much other traveling that we hadn’t the time, so no trips for about six summers.  However……….. we actually did a trip  this past August. (2018) ! And we thought we were too old !

So last August 2018, we had to break out the KD (Kraft Dinner)  and the Tylenol !  And of course, alcohol………………It was fun, our first trip was 18 years ago.  I don’t even know if I have photos of that trip.  We were way younger and way fitter but we’re smarter now !  Maybe?

There is nothing better than paddling/portaging to a lake in the middle of  nowhere.  No hydro, no phones and few, if any, people and beautiful star filled skies.

We usually go to various locations in Algonquin Park but we have also done Interior Camping in Depot Lakes and Killarney Provincial Park.    Killarney is a big and very beautiful park, I hope to get back there one year.

In Algonquin Park,  we have stayed on a number of lakes, portaging/canoeing through several others to get to where we camp.    Some of the lakes we have camped on (that I can remember) –  Booth Lake, Pen Lake, Stratton Lake, Welcome Lake, Crow Lake, Kiosk Lake, Carcajou Bay, Burnt Island Lake and of course all the various rivers and lakes to get to these spots.

I believe the time we went to Burnt Island Lake, we had to do 5 or  6 portages to get to a site.  We stayed on Pen Lake 3 different years at three different sites.  All of them were my favourite sites!  They were all phenomenal sites in their own way.   We also went to Carcajou Bay twice, this Bay is off Grand Lake.

When we went to Kioshkokwi Lake, at the North end of Algonquin near Mattawa, we were about 10 hours of paddling and portaging to get to our campsite on the lake whose name I forget, from where we parked our vehicles.   Long day.  And it rained and there was a hint of snow, I’m pretty sure, and very windy……………

We have done these type of trips at different times of the year.  Usually we would go in August but we have also had a trip or two in July and one or two in September.

From a wildlife viewing perspective, I think the first two times we camped at Pen Lake were the most productive.  One year we saw a mom Merganser Duck with 34 young ones.  Pretty sure she adopted some, cause that’s a handful………  Clint and I were out paddling one evening and a family of beavers played around and under our canoe.

We’ve had many wildlife encounters.  I remember being on Pen Lake one time and my sister and I were swimming in the lake.  Camille and Clint were sitting on the rocks and chatting.  When we got out of the water, Clint asked me what was swimming around me in the water.  Huh?  Say What?  You may have mentioned it WHILE I was in the water ! lol  I think it maybe was a muskrat?  We’ve had bears in our campsite to the point that one year the Park Rangers were always flying into this lake looking for the bears.

We started out with a very small tippy cottage canoe, then a super duper heavy polyurethane canoe but then in 2009  – we moved up to a 17 foot Ultra Light Kevlar canoe weighing about 42 pounds and easy to carry.  Yeah right like I”d know, I have never carried it !  But it is light, so I’ve heard………

It has been a great canoe, we purchased it at Opeongo Outfitters Store in Whitney, just outside the gates of Algonquin Park.  The canoe we purchased was a Souris River canoe .  Souris River Canoes are located in Atikokan, Ontario.  We actually went there one summer and took our canoe as we had a loose rivet.  The guy fixed it for free and we had a great tour and a great visit.  Highly recommend these canoes.  Lightweight and durable and the company is awesome.  Because we do photography, Clint built removable tables for us both to put our cameras on for easy access.  These have been a great addition to our canoe.

Alq canoe 08_23_2009 123
Our canoe……….

This past trip, 2018, we went in at Smoke Lake and paddled/portaged to Ragged Lake and into Parkside Bay.  We were supposed to spend a few days there and go into Big Porcupine Lake for a few days but as I mentioned in THAT Blog, the weather was crappy so we just headed home.

We are getting older now, but I still hope to get a few more trips in before we absolutely can’t.  And as I mentioned in another Blog post, we take a lot of stuff !

I can’t do without my lawn chair, wine and books but Hey !  I’m lugging it so, you know……..whatever floats your boat !  or canoe…………..

Algonquin 07 Canon326_1479
2007 and this was one trip, made two portages and possibly three !  I feel like a pack mule
Algonquin 07 Canon324_1478
Clint the “Portaging the Canoe” Man


I was going to put this all in one Blog but that would be torture for anyone who reads it (sooooo long)  so I am going to do one for each year.  These are some of the places we went and the years.

2001 – Clint and I went on our first trip together, Clint had been doing this before he met me. (enter at Farm Lake, portaging to Kitty Lake and into Booth Lake)

2002 – Booth Lake (enter at Farm Lake, portaging to Kitty Lake, portaging to Booth Lake)

2003 – Carcajou Bay (enter at Grand Lake)

2004 – Pen Lake (enter Rock Lake) (beach site)

2005 – Burnt Island   (Access point #5 Canoe Lake, north to the top end of Canoe, portage into Joe Lake, Portage into Baby Joe and some other portages)

2006 – Stratton Lake (thru Grand Lake, short portage to Stratton)

2007 – Pen Lake (enter Rock Lake)(point site)

2008 – Crow Lake (via Canoe Lake)

2009 – Carcajou Bay (enter at Grand Lake)

2010 – Kioshkokwi Lake to some other lakes, I have blocked this trip from my mind lol  (enter at Mattawa)

2011 – Pen Lake  (enter Rock Lake) (rock site by point site)

2018 – Smoke Lake (enter Smoke Lake, portage to Ragged Lake and on to Parkside Bay)

August 2018 Smoke Lake heading to Ragged Lake, Yup I’m older and not so fit but we have a better canoe

So keep posted for the all the installments of Throwback Interior Canoe Trips, 2001 to Present ……

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