We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Which Algonquin Park hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Ottawa, Canada
posts: 1
reviews: 1
Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa


I'm in need of help to plan a canoe trip at Algonquin park!

I am looking to do 4 days-3 night trip. Would love to not have to do any portage but having to do a bit would be fine.

Please let me know what routes you would suggest.. which access points. where to camp.. etc

Any info would be greatly appreciated as this is my first time organising a backcountry canoe trip myself. ( I have been on backcountry trips years ago but can not recall where we went exactly ).

Thank you!!

12 replies to this topic
Toronto, Canada
posts: 52
1. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa


Try starting with this map. It shows you all sorts of routes that are possible in the entire park. The map includes locations of campsites, portage locations/distances/difficulty.

Keep in mind, no one likes portaging therefore routes with little to no portaging means more people and canoe traffic and fewer campsites available.

For example, cache lake can take you relatively deep into the park with little to no portaging. It is also one of the parks most scenic and popular. Lake Opeongo has a shuttle that takes you, your boat and your equipment from one end to the other in 15 min. Saves you hours of paddling on a lake that can get a bit windy and can also get busy.

This past summer, a few of us paddled to booth lake which I believe can be reached via access point 15. Can't remember now. It required 2 portages of 90 metres and 500 metres. I counted 11 people we encountered over 3 days. Amazing.

Now I'm all worked up and want to plan a route for myself!

West Bloomfield...
Destination Expert
for Algonquin Park
posts: 1,675
reviews: 104
2. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Tell us a little more about your group and when you will be going and whether you have your own or are looking to rent a canoe and or camping equipment. Also are you open to transport a canoe with a car top carrierf rom a renal facility to an acess point? This opens up more possabilities. As stated above ny chuck k it takes a little extra effort to really get away from it all, but well worth it.

posts: 2,606
3. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Well, most access points in Algonquin (the official ones anyway) have an outfitter that offers canoe delivery, so roof-mounting your canoe(s) typically isn't necessary if you don't want to do it.

By 4 day trip, do you mean an actual 4-day route, or are you looking to just hang out in one spot for 3 nights? Because if you're looking for a 4-night route, like moving each day, there's no way to avoid portages.

Not sure I'd recommend Cache Lake. The only lake you can get to from there without portaging that has backcountry campsites is Tanamakoon, and there's a summer camp there so you won't exactly feel the solitude if you're there in the summer. A little bit of portaging will get you to Little Island Lake, which is nice, but that's actually closer to Smoke Lake, another major access lake.

In terms of the Highway 60 access points, probably the longest you can go for the least portaging is Canoe Lake to Tom Thompson, a long day of paddling with only one fairly short portage, though it's a busy route. Another longish stretch with fairly little portaging is Farm Lake (access point 17) to Booth or Tattler Lake, as is Tim River (access point 2) to Rosebary Lake or Kawawaymog (access point 1) to North Tea Lake but those last two are a pretty long drive from Ottawa. Thing is though, in the case of all 3 of these options, that only covers the first day or day and a half of your trip.

Since there are only a few canoe tripping types on TA, you might get a deeper pool of advice if you asked on the Algonquin Adventures forum at http://www.network54.com/Forum/352882/ or the Canadian Canoe Routes forum for Ontario at myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewforum.php?f=107 .

Edited: 8:17 am, May 20, 2014
Ottawa, Canada
posts: 1,015
reviews: 5
4. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Looking at my map, there is Arhray Campground, on the very east end of the park (Entrance is near Petawawa). Access point: 22

You can then go up Grand Lake which is VERY LONG and has camping spots along its length.

One thing we did when we went for a few days, was to stay at one camping spot and did a day trip around a circle route (with only short portages) but as we only had our lunch with us, it was easy to do.

Ottawa, Canada
posts: 3
reviews: 1
5. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

If this is your first trip to the Algonquin Back country I would suggest that you give a short portage a shot. You will feel so bad-a** after completing the trip :) If you do, I suggest a trip to Joe Island.

When I did my first back country trip, I only went as far as Joe Island and the trip took about 2 hours from launch point to the point where we chose a campsite. You drive on HWY 60 to the Portage Store where you pay for the number of days you plan to camp. You can also rent a canoe there if you like and they sell maps of the lakes (REALLY helpful).

You start by heading out on Canoe Lake, making your way north to Joe Lake. The trip across Canoe Lake takes about an hour (this is going at a leisurely pace, taking your time). Canoe Lake can be rough/choppy so be prepared for that. You will arrive at the first and only portage you will have to do. It’s at the end of Canoe Lake. The portage takes about 20 minutes, walking your stuff back and forth. It's not as bad as it sounds. My 60 year old mother had no problem doing it (and she rarely exercises so I was worried that she wouldn't be able to keep up and she totally did).

Once on Joe Lake, you start looking for a site. That's it! Joe lake also has a good spot to go cliff diving (ask at the portage store and they can point it out to you). It's really deep water so it's safe (as safe as cliff diving can be lol). Go as deep into Joe Lake as you like to find a good spot on Joe Island.

Have fun! I’m headed to Algonquin back country in August and I can’t wait :)

Edited: 12:29 pm, June 25, 2014
posts: 2,606
6. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

But bear in mind that Joe Lake doesn't really feel like backcountry, at least not to me. There's a summer camp and a luxury lodge on the lake, which access it from a private road, and use motorboats etc. Sometimes you can even see cars on the private road cross a bridge over Joe Lake. More like cottage country than wilderness, as I see it.

If you do follow Rotiki37's directions and paddle up Canoe Lake and into Joe, I'd say keep going north through Tepee and Fawn lake into Littledoe or Tom Thompson Lakes and camp on one of those... no additional portages, yet much quieter, more remote-feeling lakes. Or if you're up for a couple more short portages, go northeast from Joe into Burnt Island Lake, which has lots of great campsites and solitude.

In any case, TLL89, it's been a month and you haven't followed up or clarified whether you're looking for a "destination lake" or a full 4-day route, so you might want to let us know if any of this is relevant.

Ottawa, Canada
posts: 3
reviews: 1
7. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

OMG! Tweedwolfscream you are right! I was using google maps and it wasn't detailed enough for me to see each lake name. So we actually went as far as Little Joe Lake before choosing a site on Joe Island.

Once you get there, you definitely feel like you're in the back country - and to get there you only need to do one portage. Sorry about that - Don't use google maps - download Jeff's Map: http://www.algonquinmap.com/ - MUCH MORE DETAILED!

The summer camp is nowhere near Little Joe Lake and no motor boats are allowed on this lake (I'm not even sure they can access this lake). It's very tranquil and a good "First timer" back country trip.

Re: Burnt Island Lake. It's FABULOUS! It took us about 5 hours to get there from the Portage store launch point (same launch as the one for Little Joe). There are three portages there and the first one is the longest (which is the one I mentioned above to get you from canoe lake into Joe lake).

Basically, the deeper you go, the more solitude you will get. A word of warning for Tom Thompson Lake: It's really popular so you will want to book well in advance and try to get there early in the morning to get a good site. :)

posts: 2,606
8. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

I'm a bit confused, Rotiki37, because Joe Island is on Joe Lake proper, not Little Joe Lake. But in any case I was basically lumping in the two Joe's as one; the lodge I was referring to (Arrowhon Pines) is actually on Little Joe, and yes, motorboats are allowed on Joe, as you can see from the motorboat symbol on Jeff's Map (the one you linked). Burnt Island Lake is a couple of short portages away but feels like another world.

Of course you would never use Google Maps to plan a canoe trip, it wouldn't show portages, campsites or all waterways. It's a road map.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 6
9. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Hey! Let me first appreciate your decision to visit the Algonquin Park. I have been to Algonquin and there are innumerable places to visit. The wildlife, logging museum, beaver pond trail, the snow forest adventure, Algonquin visitor are some places which you must not miss.If you are interested in involving yourself into activities then fishing and hiking would be best. Fishing is an important activity in Algonquin. But there are certain regulations to ensure prevent over fishing to maintain the ecological balance. There are several <a href="killarneylodge.com/algonquin-park-activities/">Algonquin lakeside inn that provide good stay at the same time act as trip advisers.</a>

Edited: 3:17 am, August 22, 2014
Toronto, Canada
posts: 1
10. Re: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa

Hi guys! Planning to visit algonquin park this summer with friends. Would love to do fishing, hiking and some wildlife photography. Looking for a perfect lodging location.Got many suggestions, out of which the Killarney lodge (www.killarneylodge.com) seemed to be more impressive. Has anyone been there? Any suggestions? Please share your experience.

Edited: 3:27 am, August 22, 2014
Reply to: Backcountry Canoe Trip in Algonquin Park from Ottawa
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted