Grant’s Creek/Pooh Lake/Chateau Lake

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Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Pete Rose
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
18 km
Duration: 
1 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
11
Total Portage Distance: 
6700 m
Longest Portage: 
4000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Novice
Lake Travel: 
Novice
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

11 Portages,
Total 6700m (Hwy#17 to Pooh Lake),
Longest 4000m on road, longest bush portage 585m

The pictures I refer to cannot be posted on this site at the moment; I will try to put them on the Gallery page.

Supposedly was once a maintained canoe route until around 1980. Kevin Callan [2] describes the lower half but I’m afraid the upper half is a lost canoe route, or close to it. I did not paddle the whole route top-to-bottom; this description is based on two trips between Highway #17 and Pooh Lake, and a few days of exploring the connecting roads on mountain bike and foot. Most common access point for this route is at the downstream end so I follow it upstream from there. “Left” and “Right” in this document are always facing upstream and not the more conventional river left and right which are facing downstream. Distances are approximate, taken off maps or GPS tracks, some maps and descriptions give different distances.

This is my suggested route based on my observations in the field and is not the responsibility of any official publication by any government, ministry, department, or anyone else. If you find this document useful or interesting, please feel free to use and share it at your own risk. I cannot guarantee accuracy or scale so it is a guideline only; use caution and judgement on any outdoor activity. This is a difficult route. Serious injury or death may result. Only you can prevent forest fires. Is that enough disclaimers? Then here is my account of this interesting route.

Main access point is on south side of Hwy 17, west side of Grant’s Creek (Figure 1) but the sign is not visible from the highway. Not far upstream a couple of beaver dams to lift over and rocky shallows at gas pipeline in low water.

First portage is on left, 360m past scenic rapid from Logslide (Eden) Lake (Figure 2). Well travelled and not too difficult. There is a well-used, sloping campsite on the NW end of Logslide Lake.

Short paddle across Logslide Lake to 120m “steep and rocky” portage on left. Wooden foot bridge over boggy section has a large tree fallen across the top end creating a challenging obstacle (the first of many). Waterfall is worth a walk back to explore some of the side trails (Figure 3 and 4).

Spencers Lake and then some paddling up a slow section of the creek. Next portage is on the right and runs 565m. Terrain is not difficult but several trees have been blown down across the trail making it slow going (Figure 5).

Grant’s Creek Marsh; about 3 km of flat water, multitudes of aquatic plants, hundreds of birds and millions of insects. Heronry in the middle, supposed to be a campsite on an island but I could not spot it. Main channel is more or less up the middle but numerous side channels.

Mussio [3] does not show half of the portages above this point and a couple that are shown seem to be on the wrong side of the creek.

At top of marsh is a 260m portage on the right. Then paddle only a few metres across the creek to a 60m portage on the left. Portages now getting hard to find and follow. This one is poorly marked with some blue ribbons and is rough and obstructed by dead-falls.

Short paddle to another portage on the left. Seems to be missing from Callan’s map [2]. About 60m and was marked with yellow and black portage signs which have fallen down. Bad “portage” blocked by large fallen trees. Someone with more time needs to scout a new path. Creek is full of rocks so portage is not an option.

Paddle through a slow part of the creek to a 200m portage on the right.

Very short paddle and a 20m liftover also on the right.

Short paddle to a 585m portage on the right. Traverses the bank of the creek. Footing loose in places and side-slope can be treacherous. Numerous dead-falls but I spent an hour or so clearing everything I could. A few trees were too big but I was able to take all the branches off leaving only a bare trunk to step over. So this portage is in a lot better shape now than what Callan [2] described when he found it.

Short paddle to 30m liftover on the right that also doesn’t seem to be on Callan’s map.
This whole series of portages passes several scenic chutes and rapids.

A little further upstream is a 200m portage, on the right. Downstream end is very hard to see from creek; it is marked only by a dead, uprooted tree in the water beyond which the creek becomes shallow and gravely. I spent some time clearing the worst windfalls so it’s now in much better shape.

Portage comes out at a road; left branch leads to a metal bridge to Owl Lake. Portage seems to cross the road to a small, boggy pond at the confluence of Grant’s Creek and the stream from Owl Lake but it is overgrown and covered in fallen trees. Creek is also full of fallen trees and debris so as Callan says, “the road is obviously the better option”.

Uphill, muddy road for about 650m to the SW to intersection with gravel road (the Menet Lake road). Turn left to the SE for 550m to a sturdy timber bridge. The creek upstream looks temptingly tranquil but there are nasty obstructions before long (Figure 6). Stay on road for 800m to a fork. (Left branch goes to Menet Lake.)

Right fork turns gradually S for about 200m, passing by the end of a log bridge to the private Grant Creek Hunting Club lodge (do not cross the bridge).

350m beyond this point is a 200m portage from the road, SW, to the creek. Almost impossible to see from the road due to overgrowth and deadfalls. I cleared some of it but there are a couple of enormous fallen trees to get around. It reaches the creek just upstream of a beaver dam (or logjam).

Paddle about 2000m with a couple of shallows to lift over to N end of Pooh Lake (at last!). Pooh Lake is picturesque with a few small islands and two campsites and a few other spots that could make a small campsite. Largest site about halfway up the lake on a point on the SE side is very nice; a thick bed of moss on fairly flat rocks.

At SW end of Pooh Lake is an easy liftover some flat rocks to Tigger Lake. At Tigger Lake’s SW end the creek comes down into the lake through a boggy area.

Beyond this point, all of the maps lack any useful detail. The creek does not look paddleable for any distance. Trail beginning on the left leads SSW towards Puffball Lake. It is a disused road now obstructed by fallen trees and undergrowth. After about 400m it turns E and meets a road used by 4-wheelers. I could not see much of the creek so I cannot say if any of it is canoeable if you could get to it from the trail (a big if). I can only find the trail on the Mussio [3] map where it is shown as a hiking trail. It would be a merciless hike and a murderous portage. The 4-wheeler road goes SSW for a short distance until another road branches off to the W. This branch immediately turns SSW almost parallel to the main road and traverses a steep bank down to the shore of Puffball Lake. At the bottom is a small, sloping campsite with an Algonquin Park style privy now dilapidated beyond use and full of beer cans. Puffball Lake is a small round lake and the campsite is obviously being used by some slovenly campers.

Upstream of Puffball Lake may be passable for a short distance but I did not get a boat in there to find out. Went back to the road and continued SSW to an intersection of a slightly wider road. I will refer to this point several times as The Crossroads. It is most clearly shown on the CLAIMap [4]. Mussio [3] shows a trail starting near The Crossroads going NNW for about 600m down to the creek but I could not follow it more than 50m into the bush to what looked like a likely hunting spot. Maybe this was once a portage but the bush is full of deadfalls and looked unportageable to me.

Standing at The Crossroads, the road branching N comes from Puffball Lake. The W branch leads back to Lafreniere’s Lake and eventually to the Bissett Creek Road, crossing Grant’s Creek approximately 500m from The Crossroads. The creek is full of junk and cannot be paddled in either direction from the road. The E branch of The Crossroads goes over a hill and gradually turns S passing a large hunting camp where the road deteriorates into a muddy ATV track that finally arrives at Chateau Lake. The S branch of The Crossroads also crosses the creek farther upstream where the creek is equally unnavigable. That road continues down to the W end of Chateau Lake but a swathe of trees has been flattened by a microburst, completely blocking the road and any access to the lake. In summary, the only viable route I could find between Chateau Lake and Puffball Lake was at least 5km on the roads. Puffball Lake would be a side trip, Tigger Lake requiring another 1.3km on the road and trail (which you would need a chainsaw to clear in any reasonable time frame). One other possible access to Chateau Lake is the portage from North Rouge Lake. The road to this portage originates inside Algonquin Park and therefore requires a park permit to enter. Park staff were rather foggy on the status of the road and the portage is unmaintained so who knows what shape it’s in (I hope to make a day trip in there this year so I will post an update then).

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
31K/4 31L/1
Other Maps: 
Mining Land Tenure Map Head/Maria Township
Other
Special Comments: 

Scenic route that can be divided into several different trips of varying difficulty and is an alternative if you’re tired of the routes on this side of Algonquin Park. Compared to the familiar Barron River, it is not as spectacular but there are still some impressive chutes and waterfalls. Take the Barron’s portages and throw a dozen dead trees across them and you’ve got the idea. I was pleasantly surprised how clean most of it was given that there is road access to a few points and there are hunting camps throughout the area. The access points at the highway, Puffball Lake and Chateau Lake were littered but the rest was actually quite pristine.

Spring was a good time of year as high water levels are helpful. I do not recommend going anywhere near Renfrew County in hunting season.

A day trip from Hwy 17 to the Marsh and back is doable and takes in most of the best scenery. Going beyond the Marsh commits you to an overnight and there are no good campsites before Pooh Lake which makes for a long, hard day. Above Tigger Lake the route seems to be relegated to history, if it ever existed. Chateau Lake is beautiful but the road access allows ATVs and small powerboats to get in and it’s reputedly excellent fishing is a poorly kept secret locally. I would make Chateau Lake a separate day trip and skip the Chateau - Tigger Lake ordeal.

It is possible to drive in to a couple of points, as far as the last 200m portage to Pooh Lake but the road was at the limit of my minivan’s capability and after a night of heavy rain I barely made it back out, eliciting disbelieving looks from some ATV riders along the way. It is a long, slow, bumpy drive to ferry vehicles at the end of the trip.

Just downstream of the access point, the creek runs through some gravely shallows, under a skidoo bridge, Hwy 17, a train bridge and into the Ottawa River (Holden Lake reservoir above the Des Joachims dam). It is a paddle of about 7km to Driftwood Provincial Park which can also be used as an access point if you want a longer trip.

An open canoe of the lightest possible weight is the best vessel. Alternatively, plastic canoes are heavier but can withstand being dragged over some obstacles.

Comments

Post date: Sat, 01/14/2012 - 22:37

Comments: 

This canoe route as well as the bissets creek and mackey creek routes were once maintained by the MNR at stonecliffe until it was closed in the 80's.
These routes have recently been designated as provincial parks so maintenance may resume at some point.

Post date: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 21:16

Comments: 

The duration should be 1 to 4 days, depending on the distance you want to cover (the web form didn't seem to like anything more than just the first number). Also JeffreyM has posted a digital Algonquin Park and Area map that shows this route including more detail about the upper part of it.

Post date: Thu, 07/30/2009 - 10:07

Comments: 

Update: Carted my boat into Chateau Lake. About 6 km on the 4-wheeler road. The wheel cart went much faster than than a typical portage. Clear, perfect day but all my gear got soaked when the cart tipped over in a mud puddle on the "road". Lake seems very stagnant; water quite clear, bottom is murky but no weeds. Reminds me of the shallow end of Eustache Lake. Western end is shallow and boggy all around the shore. Eastern end has more solid ground at shore line. 2 campsites on N side of E half. Paddled down the channel that leads to the outgoing creek that later joins Grants Creek. Meandering channel through swamp ends at beaver dam within 100 m upstream of North Rouge L road crossing. Creek is small even in fairly high water in June, choked with vegetation, no way to wade through. My map had been soaked in the mud and my GPS doesn't show the road. Standing atop the dam I could not see it only about 50m away because the bush is so thick. I did not realize until I got home and plotted it on a map how close it was; in fact, I had a photo of the other side of the dam taken from the road on a previous trip! Later, I hiked up the road to the stream crossing. Some maps show the road splitting and then rejoining a short distance later. The split on the S side of the creek is overgrown and not recently used but following it about 50m E then bushwhacking N for about 30m brings you to the dam. There is another overgrown trail on the N side also. One of them may have been the original route but no sign of what might once have been a marked, maintained portage.

Then I carted the boat into Puffball L. Upstream the creek snakes its way through Jims Marsh (don't know Jim but he has a very impressive marsh) for about 1.5km as the crow flies but probably twice that actual paddling distance with a few beaver dams to lift over. I did not go all the way to the end but I estimate it ends within about 200-300m of the road crossing at a metal cabin (this is the road to Lafreniere’s Lake and eventually to the Bissett Creek Road, crossing Grant’s Creek approximately 500m from The Crossroads). From the road, I could see the marsh through the trees but no trail. The trail I mentioned earlier (Mussio [3] shows a trail starting near The Crossroads going NNW for about 600m down to the creek from the Crossroads) heads in the right general direction so that may have been it at one time. JeffreyM's map shows a 2050m portage from Chateau to Jims Marsh in the general area passing close to the metal cabin but I could find no recognizable trail. I rekon the distance could be closer to 1500m if you could get through the short sections of bush at either end.

In summary it's not as bad as I first thought but it's still bad. The roads have only gotten worse and my van is headed for the body shop. I can say I paddled the whole route now (okay, almost, and not all at once, but still). As frustrating as the early outings were, it was eventually fun to rediscover it. Fished here and there but only caught small to medium bass--I'm told that's a bad sign for trout lakes. I think this route was abandonned because the forces of nature simply overwhelmed it.

Post date: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 00:04

Comments: 

Finally managed to post my map of this route in the Gallery.

Post date: Fri, 10/31/2008 - 12:10

Comments: 

I checked out North Rouge Lake (route description posted separately) but it does not seem to connect to this route. Furthermore, the access road is the same as Chateau Lake (not a separate road as shown on the map).