I would like to do a one- to two-week tour of smaller lakes in Ontario. The cost of gas is a consideration, given the size of Ontario.

Let’s say you were starting from some place in New York State, like Watertown. What area of Ontario would you head to that’s within 100 or so miles and has a variety of small lakes to choose from?

Any specific lakes to recommend? Looking for scenic, quiet/remote, good free camping. Not interested in large lakes or Georgian Bay.

I’m sort of familiar with the Adirondacks and am disappointed with how the area has changed over the years. So I’d like to explore beyond there and see something new.


– Last Updated: Nov-11-11 8:55 AM EST –

Ontario Provincial Parks are about 90% self supported from the fees (some would say high fees) they charge for camping - probably an average of $15 per person per night. Non-residents must also pay a daily fee to camp on Crown Land (equivalent to National Forest in US)- so if the price of gas is a big issue for you, I'd guess the price of camping in the backcountry would be also. google for Ontario Ministry of Natural Resoursec - Provinvial Parks and you can find the fee schedules for backcountry camping.

A good source for you is "MyCCR.com" = Canadian Canoe Routes - look at the routes section for Ontario Forum.

Algonquin Provincial Park is likely your best bet for what you have described, but it is close to Toronto and can be quite crowded from what I hear - at least until you are a couple of days in, or unless you take a longer approach drive to the northern side. Likely entering and leaving mid-week is much less crowded, and "off season" - early May or Sept are better times to visit to avoid the crowds.

you did ask about Ontario - but Quebec offers lots of canoeing as well.

Fees; Quebec
Is there a difference between a “resident” and a “Canadian citizen”? I.e., if one is a Candian citizen but a U.S. resident, is a fee charged?

I would like to know about Quebec as well. I’ve kayaked in the Parc de la Vérendrye and Mauricie, years ago.

When I mention the cost of gas, it’s because of the huge size of Ontario and Quebec compared to some of the smaller U.S. states. It’s something like 700 miles across Ontario at its widest part. So I just wanted to emphasize that I need to stick fairly close to the Adirondacks, as opposed to Manitoba.

LaVerendrye or ZEC Kipawa
LaVerendrye is a good option, you still will have to pay fee’s but it’s about the closest big park to Albany.

Fishing can be great, but permits are pricey, I just buy a 3 day license and have it go into effect when I get a few days into the trip.

Bears are seldom a problem, a native told me once that bears eat moose calfs so bears get shot at by natives…just repeating what he said, no opinion one way or the other, but every bear I ever saw in LaVerendrye (and I’ve seen a few) made a mad dash for parts unknown.

Rivers Noire and Colounge are free, but only if you use a shuttle, well, thats what my outfitter told me, but you mentioned smallish lake routes.

Another option is ZEC Kipawa, smaller lakes, fees are reasonable and very little traffic compared to Algonquin which is close by. Fishing is also good but pricey.

Do you have Hap Wilsons “Rivers of the Ottawa Valley”? Lots of info there and good info for a lake to lake paddler.

Just google it, nice information site and I can give you some added tidbits (like you need to pay cash, no plastic)

Frontenac and Algonquin

– Last Updated: Nov-14-11 3:56 PM EST –

Frontenac is just north of Kingston

http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/fron.html Good for short trips.

Kawartha Highlands is closer to Toronto.

Algonquin is $11.75 pp per night backcountry. Thats probably going to be a big shock for someone used to the free of the ADK's. However its the cheapest of all the PP.


If you go to Algonquin its best to reserve your route in July and August You can reserve five months ahead.

Try not to launch at Canoe Lake..heavily used. You can find lots of seclusion at other access points. See the map..

When I go (about 25 trips so far ) I go in June. The penalty for wanting small lakes is a lot of hiking.

La Verendrye has relatively few small lakes. The canoe season is limited from mid May to early September. I would avoid the first week of August. The province is all on vacation

Canadian citizens can camp for free on Crown Land. There is very little of that south of the French River.

Ontario is some 1000 miles wide. But still worth it . I am going to Woodland Caribou..practically in Manitoba. Even with gas at $1.20 a litre (just shy of five bucks a gallon)

Small Lakes in LaVerendrye
Kayamedic said:

“LaVerendrye has relatively few small lakes”

It has enough small lakes to recommend it as a destination, I have spent over 2 months tripping in the reserve and only lost one day windbound.

If you can read a map, it’s not hard to figure out a small lake route in LaVerendrye, especially if you where willing to do an out and back on the same lakes.

You could do 8-10 days without entering a large lake if you where willing to backtrack. I have done it on circuit 63, never saw another canoe or motor boat.

See if you can do that in Algonquin, you’d be hard pressed from the numbers of visitors it gets.

Chococouane 63 is the one circuit
I have never done. Its got a fair number of portages for sure!

There is a map available at Le Domaine and you can view a TR here.

http://www3.sympatico.ca/louis.verrette/verendry.html#chococouane. Google translator seems to get the flavor of the writing if not the exact words.

More info here


Algonquin is not all deranged crowded. See Jeff Mc Murtries map. Take routes with black portages.

The real issue that neither is within the OPs parameters.

Le Domaine at La V is 4.5 hours north of Montreal. Algonquin the same.

Frontenac or Algonquin
Frontenac definitely provides the small lakes and it’s beautiful. Tons of deer the time we were there. As Kayakmedic mentioned though, it’s probably better for smaller trips. It depends on how much you want to travel. You could circumnavigate the whole park in a week if you wanted to. One characteristic that could be a downside is that the campsites are in clusters of 4 sites with a shared outhouse. It’s great for groups but might not have the privacy you want.

Algonquin gives you a huge # of options including 29 different access points. There are some good sized lakes, but most would probably fit your size requirement.


“No your other left”