Temagami Ontario Trip Report

Temagami Area, Ontario

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, Solace Provincial Park, North Yorston Conserve

First some personal info:

I have been tripping for five years. I am an experienced novice per Hap Wilson’s Temagami Guide skills rating; 45 yrs, a little soft around the middle, and weigh about 230 lbs. I’m a mailman and moderately active. My partner is 55 yrs, not an ounce of fat and weighs 145 lbs. He’s a very active dairy farmer and has also been tripping for 5 years. He is advanced in skills having been a whitewater kayaker in his younger days. Like many, we started along Hwy 60 in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada; later moving to the more promitive northside and accessing at Brent on Cedar Lake. Algonquin is very nice, however, we found it to be a bit crowded at times. As fate would have it my wife gave me a book as a Christmas gift; Hap Wilson’s “The Cabin” and dreams of Temagami were set in motion…

While we did our trip in 7 days due to work constraints, 8 or 9 days would have allowed for much greater free time, exploration, and relaxation. As it was our trip was more like a week long workout, which I loved nonetheless!

Day 1: Travel, Montreal River, Lady Dufferin Lake to Smoothwater Lake:

Drive 12 hours and 845km from Leicester, NY (~60km south of Rochester, NY) with a side trip to Finlayson PP for permits. The staff were very friendly and efficient. Put-in at Montreal River Access via Beauty Lake Rd at 5:00 pm. We paddled upstream against a lazy current passing over maiden hair gently swaying in repose to the song of the paddle. After passing through Lady Dufferin Lake we passed a renonvated cabin rumored to be a brothel for the entertainment of logging executives and buyers during the Roaring Twentys. Our first night took us to a small site with a gravel landing located just north of Smoothwater Lake on Montreal River. Spotted by beavers and warned by much slapping of water. Thanks to the Millennium Loo Crew for donating the thunderbox/privy at the site. Dinner was beef stew followed by fresh baked chocolate chip cake.

Day 2: Smoothwater Lake, Apex Lake (left small cache for return trip), Whitemud Lake, South Lady Evelyn River:

This was a very long day. It also rained much of the day. There were numerous beaver dams, shallows, and small fallen logs requiring liftovers and lining. Be careful to watch your step when wading to avoid very deep muskeg. Due to an unusually wet summer we were able to carefully run or line some of the rocky swifts. The South Lady Evelyn is very twisty and frequently bends back upon itself; so much so that one can carry on a face to face conversation with their bow partner without them having to turn around. It was a dizzying experience. We spent the night at the large site before the junction with the Florence River. After changing into dry clothing we enjoyed a meal of strip steak, red russet potatoes, and fresh sweet pea pods.

Day 3: South Lady Evelyn River, Florence River, Florence Lake, Bluesucker Creek, Bluesucker Lake:

The Florence River flowed gently with more maiden hair accentuated by white blooms of water lilies. Spotted two river otters frolicking in the water. Canoeing through this short valley was like going back in time to a primeval era. Ospreys are often seen here circling above. Florence Lake was very scenic. I wished we had more time to explore and climb Florence Mountain. We lifted over the “elbow” at the old fishing cabin where there is also a nice beach. Traveling to the south end of the lake took us to the infamous Bluesucker Creek Portage which is fantastically varied and rugged! The trail begins innocently enough and then descends into a long 300 yard bog. One wrong step and it’s up to one’s knees in delicious muskeg. And then you get to climb a steep up and down section covered with bowling ball size boulders and topped off with a higher smooth and slippery as a baby’s behind plateau. But it’s worth it as Bluesucker Lake is a darling. The first small site on Bluesucker Lake was a little overgrown and hadn’t been used in awhile. We stayed at the 2nd small site located in a bay across from the portage into Benner Lake. There was a fishing camp just to the south as well as a larger camping site. The next morning I inadvertantly left my watershoe inserts on shore along with a pair of wet socks for which I apologize. Toss them into the fire if you come across them.

Day 4: Bluesucker Lake, Benner Lake, Rodd, Pilgram, Maggie, Samson & Bill Lakes, Solace, Einar, Biscuit, Broadbent, Carrying Bar, Tooth, Melanson, and Reagan Lake:

Our longest day of the trip went very well. This portion of the trip took us across Solace Provincial Park and the North Yorston Conserve. It is a very rugged and solitary beauty to behold. The portage into pretty Benner Lake is located in a very small bay across from the middle campsite. Do not be misled by a small fishermen’s campsite complete with frying pans and counters located further to the north in a similar small bay. At the northwest end of Rodd Lake we were treated to a lengthy cow moose viewing. After watching for 20 minutes we had to move on to maintain our tight schedule. At the end of the 1090m portage from Pilgrim Lake one can see a trap line on the west shore of Maggie Lake. The trap line is not the portage! It is located further to the north. I remember the trail into Bill Lake was steep and rugged. Solace Lake was a beauty with many small islands and an eyecatching skyline. We lunched at a sunny dock located at an untidy abandoned fishing camp on the most northerly island of Solace. Investigation found a usable outhouse located at the site. A bald eagle made its appearance known as it cirled the warm air currents above. From Solace to Reagan one has to be careful and patient in finding some of the obscured carries; they weren’t too difficult to locate, just a little hidden at times. I regreted not having more tape to better mark the portages for other voyageurs, but next time I’ll be better prepared. The carry from Broadbent Lake to Carrying Bar Lake seemed steep, although it was well marked and fairly wide. The best portages/ATV trails of the trip were to be found entering and exiting Reagan Lake. Reagan Lake has a high prominent skyline to the south. That night we enjoyed the rising of a full moon reflecting off still waters with eerie loon calls echoeing in the background.

Day 5: Reagan Lake , Hamlow, Woods, and Scarecrow Lakes.

Birdsongs awoke us to a thick as pea soup fog which burned off late in the morning. Steaming pancakes and sizzling bacon were no match for their human predators. Our route for the day was straight forward as we enjoyed portaging over wide hardpack double tracks. The campsites we passed on Hamlow Lake weren’t anything to get excited about. You will have to line and wade some portions of Scarecrow Creek when travling upstream. There is one liftover at a collapsed bridge. Look for an ingenious tow rope as you get closer to Woods Lake and pull yourself upstream. The pretty island campsite on Scarecrow Lake is small and rocky with little cover. It is, however, a breezy location, though devoid of any campfire wood. Since mosquitos and blackflies weren’t a problem we stayed at the larger former ranger cabin site on shore locatd close to the Ishpatina Ridge Trail. We met the only people we saw during our trip on Scarecrow Lake.

Day 6: Climbed Ishpatina Ridge. Mihell, McCulloch, unnamed lakes & ponds, Apex, and Smoothwater Lakes:

Ishpatina Ridge is the highest point in the Province of Ontario. The trail to Ishpatina Ridge runs east from the shore campsite and then more or less north to the ridge. There are three small lakes on the trail to Ishpatina Ridge along with some boggy areas. The best place for refilling water bottles is near the beaver dam on Dick Lake. Care does need to be taken when navigating, since there are some detours around wet areas…watch for traditional trail “cues” such as logs blocking or redirecting one’s line of travel. The view from the top is stunning! It’s even more stunning from the very top of the 100’ fire tower. Bring a camera! Also enjoy the many blueberries and your bag lunch or GORP… We took about two hours going up and an hour coming down plus viewing time at the top. McCulloch Lake had a nice beach site at the southern portage. Later we retrieved our cache at Apex Lake. The beach on Smoothwater Lake at the Marina Lake portage is absolutely gorgeous! In the bright sun we could easily see 10’-20’ through the crystal clear water. Next to the 300 yard beach there was a small sandy creek exiting from a Hawaiian or Eden-like lagoon. It was a picture perfect setting of tranquility and peacefulness. Later we enjoyed an hawaiian ham and pineapple dinner with sweet potatoes followed by banana-pineapple parfait. The only thing missing was a frozen margarita. Our evening was capped off by a truly spectacular sunset and a cacaphony of loons orchestrating their unique symphony. Once again thanks to the Millennium Loo Crew and other expert furniture craftsmen for the enjoyable accomodations.

Day 7: Smoothwater Lake, Lady Dufferin Lake, Montreal River Access

On our last day a light rain gave way to a beautiful and heavenly double rainbow as we left Smoothwater Lake and Lady Evelyn Provincial Park. Heading downstream on the Montreal River a bald eagle bid us farewell and at the final takeout two young and very playful river otters scampered about without a care in the world. I’ll always remember the call of the Lady Evelyn.


Canoe: Wenonah Minnesota II:18’, 42 lbs.

Paddles: Zaveral Carbon Bent Shaft, Mitchell Carbon Bent Shaft.

Tent: Golite Hex 3 w/nest

Dining/Rain Fly: Tyvek Tarp

Pack: Golite Gust

Dry Bags: Sea To Summit Silnylon

Stove: MSR Simmerlite Liquid Fuel

Camera: Olympus 720SW

Additional Details

Total # Portages: 32

Longest Portage: Florence to Bluesucker ~1600m

Portage Distance: 15,675m or 17142 yds or ~10 miles

Total Distance (rough est.): 110-115km or ~70 miles


Temagami Canoe Routes Planning Maps by Ontario Ministry Natural Resources, Ontario Parks

Canoeing, Kayaking, Hiking Temagami by Hap Wilson, Boston Mills Press 2004

Natural Resources Canada Topographic Maps: Smoothwater Lake 41 P/7

Natural Resources Canada Topographic Maps: Pilgrim Creek 41 P/2

Solace-Hamlow Canoe Route, Temagami: Ottertooth.com

Sounds like you guys had
a great trip!

Have you considered posting your trip report on p-net’s message board “Places 2 Paddle”?


Good idea. I’ll need to clean up the report a little and add a link for pictures, which I have yet to post.

Tamagami Travler
Great report John, I’ll have to get some maps out when I read it again. Are photos forthcoming? I hope you documented the craftsmanship of the Loo Crew. I have dreams of doing a photo essay on back country privies.

Great report!
Me and two of my friends will be traveling this route in an 18.5’ three seater canoe in about a month. We are hoping to finish it in 10 days with 3 days for rest and exploration.
Do you think the 300 yard bog between florence and blue sucker is paddleable in high, May water?

@rzgeravi@gmail.com said:
Great report!
Me and two of my friends will be traveling this route in an 18.5’ three seater canoe in about a month. We are hoping to finish it in 10 days with 3 days for rest and exploration.
Do you think the 300 yard bog between florence and blue sucker is paddleable in high, May water?

Ask over on myccr.com This trip report is nine years old and any info may be outdated anyway.