On these cold, snowy, February days, do you find yourself dreaming of your next summer adventure? Are you considering a canoe trip, but don’t know where to go? Read on for tips on how to plan a route that meets all your needs! Remember that you can call any Ontario Provincial Park directly for trip planning advice!
Things to consider as you plan your route:
- Renting from an outfitter? You’ll want to choose a route where you can pick the canoe up on your way (assuming your vehicle is able to carry a boat!), or one that is within delivery distance of the outfitter. And of course your outfitter can help with trip planning.
- Own your own? You can go anywhere!
- Is the canoe light and relatively easy to portage, or would a trip with no portaging be best?
Your paddling partners:
- Is this a solo trip?
- Are you bringing children? Sites without steep cliffs, or those with good swimming opportunities (not ones teeming with leeches!) may be more desirable to you.
- How many people will be with you? Some Ontario Provincial parks allow only 6 people per backcountry campsite, while others allow up to 9.
Paddling abilities of everyone:
- How far can you paddle in a day? Are you likely to tire quickly?
- Would you prefer to paddle for less time and have more time to relax at the campsite, or paddle all day and reach your campsite famished and ready for bed?
- Will your littlest companions tolerate a long time in the canoe?
- Are you comfortable paddling in windy conditions?
Type of trip/route:
- How far do you want to drive before you reach your access point? Would you prefer a more remote/less busy access point?
- Do you intend to canoe to a site and camp at that site for several days, or will you pack up and move to another campsite each day? In other words, will you have a “base camp”?
- Do you prefer to paddle a loop where you don’t backtrack, or do you like to paddle in and then out the same way?
- How far away from the put in (and your vehicle) do you want to be? Close by in case you need to bail (for example, if the weather turns), or as far away as possible to have more of a wilderness experience? The more portages on your route, the less people you will see!
Types of lakes or rivers and landscape:
- Do you prefer long narrow lakes, big lakes (higher chance for more wind and waves), small lakes, little marshy areas to investigate, quieter lakes, busy lakes?
- Would you prefer lakes without motor boats?
- Do you want to paddle past cottages or other buildings?
- Is there a landscape you prefer, such as the Canadian Shield?
- Is the water level too high or too low?
- Are there fishing opportunities?
Things to explore while you paddle or near your campsites:
- Hoping to hike in addition to paddle? You may want a campsite near a trail access point.
- Interested in historical ruins or other points of interest, such as hieroglyphs? You might want to check out Jeffsmap Algonquin or Killarney maps for all kinds of helpful information.
In addition to this list, park maps, and advice from park staff, you can also read canoe trip reports online to get an idea of potential canoe routes that might suit you. Talk to other canoe trippers, and check out some of the Happy Camper‘s books and videos (aka Kevin Callan).
Check out my trip reports:
- Algonquin Provincial Park (4 days): Smoke Lake to Big Porcupine Lake to Harness Lake to Little Island Lake
- Total distance travelled (by canoe and portaging): 44km (approximately)
- Number of portages: 12
- Distance portaged: 6.185km
- Shortest portage: 60m (not including beaver dam liftovers)
- Longest portage: 1640m
- Algonquin Provincial Park (4 days): Girls only trip
- Algonquin Provincial Park (4 days): Girls only trip (Algonquin Outfitters guest blog)
Do you have any suggestions for my list? I’d love to hear them.