Queitco info needed.

I’m planning to go to Quetico in September. I haven’t done any planning for the trip but would like to stay out a week or so. From what I understand is that I won’t have any problems with a permit for mid September. Can I pick up the maps while I’m out there or should I get some now. Any Quetico advise. Thanks.

Sep Trip
My partner and I went out 9/28 last year for a 2 week Quetico trip. We went in on Big Sag, and did about 195 miles in a big counterclockwise loop. As far as maps go, I prefer McKenzies while Hunter likes Fischer. Whichever you get, you’ll need them before you go. I use them for trip planning, as much as I use them while I’m out. If you are going to be doing a lot of trips, you can never really have too many maps. I’m not sure about the western entry points, but the canadian ranger stations on Cache Bay and Prairie Portage shut down in Sep. If they are closed when you hit the border, to be legal, you will need an RABC from the canucks. Its quite painless to get, but does take the better part of 2 months(mine did anyway) to get. Weather is pretty interesting that time of year. We had 70 and sun for the first few days last year. Then it was overcast and a bit cooler for a few, pouring rain for 2 straight days, off and on flurries for a few and then just 50ish and windy for the remainder. No bugs though. And almost no people. If I can help with anything else, let me know.


probably not
When in Sept? Though the “interior” is open year round, the rest of the park officially closes on the 11th this year. That includes the campground and ranger stations. After the 10th, you can go in through any ranger station, but you still need a permit and need to pay your camping fees. After the 10th, you do that at the self-service pay stations at each ranger station, so you need to pay with cash or check - no credit cards. If you are going to enter prior to Sep 11th, and you know the date for sure, why not try and get a reserved entry? That way, no surprises. Though it is very unlikely that you wouldn’t be able to get a permit, perhaps you might not get the entry point you really want without a reservation.

If it does not matter which entry point, then you can almost assuredly get a permit for a Pickeral Lake entry, as they issue 4 permits for that on a non-reservable, first come- first served basis. Just be first in line when they open the Dawson Creek visitor center.

Regarding maps, if the ranger stations are open, you can buy a decent map, put out by Friends of Quetico. Just be aware that these maps do not show any campsites, so you have to find them yourself - not too difficult since there are usually many sites on the obvious places - points, and islands. I have used those maps for navigation, but they are not the best. I pprefer the Fisher maps (google for W.A. Fisher dot com). Both the Fisher and Mackenzie maps show the locations of most campsites, so planning a daily travel itinerary is a lot easier. They are also a smaller scale and so are easier to use for navigating.

If you are planning on entering via US, then you need a RABC for Prairie Portage and Cache Bay, regardless of when you enter. For Lac La Croix, you had better check Canada Customs to find out if that Customs Station will be open on the date you plan to enter.

Some more suggestions

– Last Updated: Jul-12-06 8:00 PM EST –

The map Matt refers to is well worth getting before your trip. Excellent for trip planning as you get the big picture and it is also a must to take on the tirp as it has the most recent information on portage placement. I carry both the 1:125,000 Chrismar Quetico Adventure Map and the Fisher series. Navigate with the larger scale Fisher, but when I get more than 2 days travel into the interior I find I frequently refer to the Adventure Map for portage placement.

Later in September is generally a changable weather period, so either be prepared for wind and waves or route through smaller lakes when you can. Might be best to avoid large east - west orientated lakes at that time slot and for that reason I would not recommend a French Lake / Pickerel Lake entry. Consider a Beaver House entry on the Ontario side. Advantage is you will not need to get the $30 (C) remote border crossing permit in advance of your trip. If you do get the border crossing permit, entry through Prairie Portage via Ely, MN gives you a lot of scenic routes to choose from - heading northwest, north, or northeast. Plus there are a lot of outfitter options in Ely if you need that. Also available would be float plane or shuttle service should you want to do a one way trip, rather than loop.

I’m planning on paddling in the
Woodland Caribou PP prior to Quetico so I’ll be in Canada. I did call the park yesterday and they confirmed that by mid-September the ranger stations will be closed so forget about asking about routes while there. They’re sending me a packet of info and I ordered a map. I already have a map of the WCPP. After trying to figure out some routes from MYCCR, I agree that better maps are needed. It wouldn’t be difficult to get lost in the maze of lakes.

I normally do my Canadian trips in the Fall when to bugs and people count is down so don’t expect summer days. How about water levels for that time of the year. Out west, everything is dried up and we don’t get any rain until usually October or Novemeber. Of course up north in BC, where I usually make my trips, that isn’t the case. I read a trip report about WCPP and they warned that the route they took could have bogs by the end of summer.

I’m in a chicken-egg dilemma since I need a map to figure out a route, but can’t order maps until I have a route. I guess at the time of year I’ll be going I won’t have to worry about crowds so just about any route would do. I’m thinking about staying out a week or so.

Jeez, I’m hoping that this middle east thing doesn’t raise gas prices any higher. I’m thinking that I got to make the trip now because every year the gas prices just go up and maybe next year I won’t be able to afford the trip. I’m trying to stop at as many places so I can get more value for my gas dollar.

Lake levels

– Last Updated: Jul-12-06 8:39 PM EST –

Got back from 9 days in the Quetico yesterday. The lake levels are down. I'd say Basswood is about 8" down right now. Woodland Caribou has a dryer climate than Quetico. Low water levels in Quetico mean less mud on portages, walking connecting creeks and small rivers that you would normally run, and sometimes big trouble if route takes you through swamps and beaver flowages. Generally it is fairly dry from mid July through early September. We usually expect September rains, but it takes significant rainfall to recharge lake levels before a frost occurs. After a killing frost to stop plant transpiration, there is significantly more runoff from rain events.

Any route suggestions for the west
section? I’m not interested in crossing the border and only doing a loop. I don’t want to be slogging through mud though because of low water levels. I guess it makes sense to stay off the big lakes also. I looked at the Fisher maps but don’t know which one to buy. Do they all have GPS info on them? I don’t intend to fish so that’s not an issue.

Quetico info
Yaknot, buy this book:


This is an index of the entire canoe country (BWCA/Quetico and beyond). The scale would be too large to use for navigation in the bush, but it will let you know which maps you need. It’s a great planning tool.

I’m thinking about heading into the Q myself on Sept. 18th - probably a Beaverhouse entry for me. The Park is closed then, so you just self-register at the ranger stations. If you enter from the US, then you need an RABC. If you enter from Canada, then you don’t. I hear you on gas prices - ouch! They make solo travel expensive.


West route suggestions
Sounds like you use a GPS so forget the Fisher maps, go with the newer McKenzie’s (tan land features and blue water. They have UTM coordinates, the Fisher’s use Lat/Long. Be sure when you buy that you are getting the newer McKenzie’s. Some stores still have the older McKenzie’s that are white land features with blue water and no UTM info.

As far as suggested routing, I don’t know your normal travel rate for a week or so, but here is a start and you can adjust from there. 10 miles a day: Beaverhouse, Quetico, Oriana, Jesse, Maria, Batchewaung Bay, Batchewaung, Nym. 15 mile a day: Beaverhouse, Quetico, Jean, Burntside, Rouge, Sturgeon (big lake but islands to hide behind), (also I highly recommend the side trip to Russell to the very scenic Chatterton Falls area) Halliday, Elizabeth, Jesse, Maria, Batchewaung Bay, Batchewaung, Nym. Work with the outfitter in Atikokan, Ontario to set a shuttle for a Beaverhouse entry and a Nym Lake pickup. Have a great trip.