Suggestions for first trip

My brother and I are looking to do our first trip, probably a week in duration, so looking for advice on when and where. We are located in NW Ohio, which would make Algonquin and Adirondack roughly the same distance from us (10 hour drive), or we could add another four to five hours to get to BWCA … certainly not limited to those three, but I don’t see us traveling any farther than BWCA.

I’m a school teacher, so we’re limited to the first week of June through the third week of August. My brother and I are both experienced paddlers and campers, but neither of us have done canoe tripping, and probably worth mentioning that we’re both in good physical condition and have the necessary equipment for tripping. Looking for some seclusion, so my research thus far has me leaning toward northern Algonquin. Any advice/suggestions on destination and timing based on this limited information?

You’re the 2nd poster that is considering the BWCA. As I replied to the other poster,I am from MN & paddle there many times a year. are you looking to just paddle lakes? Rivers? Or both. The BWCA put in points can be fairly populated in the summer, but once you’ve ventured out a day or so, you may not see another soul the rest of the trip. Self rescue skills are a must.

More info on where in the BWCA you’re looking at would be helpful to suggest entry points / take out points. Since you’re from Ohio, probably an eastern or southern BWCA trip ?? Let me know & I can give you more info.

a link to get a map of the BWCA. the online map just shows major roads in the BWCA. The $10 map you can order is a must have for the BWCA. It shows entry / exit points, portages, camp sites. You may want to consider a trip in the superior national forest. The map also covers this area. Unlike the BWCA, no permit is required, and you can “disperse camp” which just means you can camp where ever you want, not just designated sites like the BWCA. If you’re really serious about making a trip in this area, let me know & I can give you a lot more info. I will say it is the most beautiful & secluded area I’ve ever paddled.

If you decide on the Adirondacks, I would suggest Low’s lake. Much to do (even some hiking)for a week and you could add the 2 mile portage to get to the Oswegatchie River. Much fewer people in June, but that is black fly season too. There would be little seclusion in August, but better weather.

Additionally …
We’d be looking for a trip that has a combination of rivers and lakes. I realize June will be prime time for black flies, but I think we’d be willing to deal with them if it will give us the seclusion we’re hoping for. Can anyone talk me in or out of June due to the flies versus lack of people?

some considerations
cost - BWCA would cost you $15 per person per trip (I think that’s the going rate)so $30 for you and your Bro. Algonquin would cost you somewehre between 15 an 20 dollars per person per night - so that’s about $30 x10 = $300 or so. No fees that I’m aware of in Adirondacks.

Passports - got to have em to get back into US - and just f.y.i., any DUI on iether o fyour records can result in not being allowed to enter Canada.

No matter where you go, if you can arrange to enter on a mid-week day instead of a weekend day, you will see fewer people - you won’t be “in sync” with the majority going in/coming out on Sat or Sun.

Black Fly season - if you’ve never experienced hundreds of black flies getting in your eyes, in your ears, stuck in your hair, in your mouth when you try to take a bite of food - - well, don’t miss your chance, and be sure to go in June – otherwise, to avoid Black Fly season, go later in the year, though the first week of June is usually still mellow as the bugs are jest beginning to hatch then - but weather patterns make a diff.

Gear? you said experienced campers ? if that meant experienced backpackers, your good to go - if not, you might consider an outfitted trip.

Canoe - got your own or rent ? if you have a 90lb Disco, forget about portaging it and rent a kevlar ultralight. (its possible to do a BWCA trip with minmalnumber portages if you go out of Moose Lake

Fishing ? BWCA is Bass, Walleye, adn Northern Pike and Lake Trout

Algonquin and Adirondacks are gonna be just trout, mainly Brookies

Based on my personal preferences and experience, I’d suggest the BWCA for your trip - everybody ought to go there at least once, and you can always go to other areas forfuture trips.


– Last Updated: Jan-16-13 2:43 PM EST –

"We'd be looking for a trip that has a combination of rivers and lakes".

its farther, but if you want that combination, the Allagash in Maine is really the ideal trip - you need to be reasonably competent at Class II - low CII if you have the ranger portage you and your gear aroud Chase Rapids

any river travel in BWAC or Algonquin is mainly going to be flatwater - more like long skinny lakes, with portages around the rapids

I can tell you about the BWCA, superior national forest is that you can run both lakes & rivers & be as secluded as you want. Flies & mosquito pests are minimal on the water & are non existent at night cause it WILL get cold even in the middle of June. My water froze at night in the back of my truck on a June night. If you’re wanting to go “black ops” in the wilderness as far as hiking, exploring, the flies will be there, but make sure you have trail markers. If you get lost in this area you are screwed. Your cell phone will not work, and you can hike for 50 miles and not see anything. Easy to get lost on the water too without a good map, compass & some common sense. I Have paddled a lot of areas and this is my “go to” place if I don’t want to see people.

Where I go in the BWCA, superior national forest has some creeks & rivers that are class V in the spring, class II-IV in mid june. Some areas there are NO portages if you want to avoid the rapids. Just have to haul your gear through the woods to get to your next destination if you’re not comfortable with running rapids. That’s why I said in my previous post that if you’re serious about BWCA, superior national forest area, you’re going to need a lot more intel to be safe. A creek or river that looks flat when you start can turn into a class IV or V with little or no warning. (I learned the hard way) A trip to the BWCA, SNF to run any rivers creeks, you should talk to a ranger in the area you’re considering. They’ll let you know where NOT to go if you don’t want rapids. The link I posted earlier, you can find the ranger info there.

Algonquin fees

$10.50 pp per night.

Its very much like the BWCA but aside from Canada Day far less crowded and there isnt a rush to find a campsite as you reserve your whole lake by lake trip when you get your permit.

That said its not as cheap as the Boundary Waters. In June before school is out you could go anywhere and be pretty well alone.

The Adirondacks has a nice remote rigorous loop in Lila Lows, down the Bog River to Round Pond and then Little Tupper to Shingls Shanty and back to Lila. Its some 55 miles long. Campsites are first come first served and free. Its a mix of to class 2 paddling with lots of hiking and lakes…Low’s is over ten miles long.

The Adirondack Paddling Guide and Map have all the campsites and routes indicated…

The French River about 4 hours north of Toronto offers a mix of rapids lake and river travel and loops can be made. Georgian Bay is gorgeous.

first trip
I would not be too ambitious about the mileage. Bad weather can really mess up your itinerary. It is supposed to be fun, not a paddling marathon to impress anyone, even yourself.

Lots of places will work. I like the out of the way, not so famous places near the ones everyone else goes to.

Additionally …
Thanks for all the suggestions and info, guys! I paddle a Wenonah Argosy in the kevlar ultralight setup for my solo adventures, but my tandem is an Old Town Charles River … great for the family around home, but obviously WAY too heavy to even consider tripping with portaging. So, we will be renting an ultralight tandem regardless of where we go. Regarding our camping experience, yes, we have the backpacking equipment, so no issues with needing anything else from an outfitter. Honestly, the flies have me concerned, so maybe the BWCA is our best option for a June trip???

June Trip
People do indded camp in te Adirondacks in June, I di not mean to scare you. The 1st week of June can be ok if there was a dry May. Cover exposed areas and try to camp in a breeze. They also go away at night. As for August - it is not like there will be hoards of people out. There is a limited amount of sites and most people do not venture out to the far reaches of the lake. As long as you avoid the weekend you shopuld be able to find a site with little problems. Raquette River Outfitters out of Tupper Lake has great equipment and a nice map that lists and comments on all the sites on Low’s. I hope to make the BWCA some day but a 15 hour drive for a 1 week trip seems a bit much to me.

I can’t see any difference in bugs
in any northern areas. Unless you are allergic to them, there are many coping mechanisms to mitigate their annoyance.

Try Labrador at any time of the years…the blackflies are out all summer. Count your blessings.

I would go to any of your candidate areas in June. You do want to see more moose and young moose than people, no?

Hello Buckeye
I also live in Ohio, in the SW part. Sucks for anyone who likes nature and doesn’t own a big farm. I’ve done the U.P. of Michigan on years when the BWCA is not doable. There are some nice places, small, but you can move around and do lots of daytripping down both rivers and lakes. The Manistique River is wonderful. The Escanaba can be pretty wild, and Big Island Lake wilderness is good for a two or three day overnighter. In the west, there’s Sylvania - great fishing and very nice. The point is that if you can’t go very far, there’s alternatives. The U.P. will not be a “wilderness” experience, per se, but neither is BWCA. Good luck and have a good time wherever you go. And, TAKE IT EASY.

We’ve been sampling Ontario lakes and
rivers that are close to the Sault St. Marie entry. There are good options in and around Superior Provincial Park. There’s one big lake, the name of which escapes me, that is very complex and has campsites scattered all around. No portages unless one insists.

We also avoided the reservation-to-camp system at Killarney by shack camping at Widgwa Lodge and paddling the lightly used lakes on the west side of Killarney.

We did 12 nights in Quetico in '73, but I’m reluctant to send first-timers into areas that are heavily used by other canoeists. One just needs to look for rivers and lakes that are nice for paddlers but unattractive to motorboaters.