Barron River - Grand Lake to Squirrel Rapids

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Additional Route Information
24 km
2 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
2980 m
Longest Portage: 
660 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
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Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Access through the Achray Campground - Sand Lake Gate north east section of Algonquin.

Technical Guide: 

This trip begins at Grand Lake in the Achray Campground in the north east section of the Park. Travel south 1.8 km. to where the Barron River exits the lake. Paddle east along the river for about 700 metres. until the first portage (30 m.) around a dam.

Paddling in an easterly direction for 4.8 km and then for another 1.5 km in a north-easterly direction through Stratton Lake brings you to the portage around High Falls. There are a number of campsites on Stratton, the nicest being on the left shore in the north arm.

High Falls is a series of four falls and chutes interspersed with deep pools. The portage around High Falls is 660 metres and found on the left shore. It is quite strenuous over very rocky ground. The portage can be broken up a little with a short paddle across the last pool. Don't be fooled by one of the maps of the route that suggests that what follows the pool is a rapid - it's a chute that might as well be called a falls DO NOT RUN. This is a very pretty area well worth the extra effort required to get here.

Paddle northeast 1.7 through High Falls Lake. At the south end of the lake on the right shore there are a couple of very nice campsites well worth consideration if you are not in a hurry. Stretch the trip to three or four days and enjoy the view. At the north end of High Falls the Barron River exits through a narrow bay on the northwest shore. There is a set of rapids here that can be run in part, but other sections need to be walked or lined. The portage around the rapids is 530 metres on the right-bank.

Down stream a little further there is another set of rapids called "The Cascades". Like the last set of rapids they can be run in part and walked or lined in others. Be sure to scout each section carefully if you choose not to take the 290 and 350-metre portages on the left shore. This entire section of the river is 1.8 km. in length.

Paddle north 500 metres through the small lake to a set of rapids. These rapids are class-I and can be run with little difficulty. The portage (160 metres) is located on the right shore. A 1.8-km. paddle east takes you to some campsites on the north shore of Brigham Lake.

Just after Brigham Lake is a set of rapids that can be easily run. The portage is 100 metres on the left shore. Another 100 metres of paddling brings you to the portage around Brigham Chute. The portage is to be found on the left shore and is 440 meters long. This distance can be shortened considerably if you put in just after the falls. The portage trail branches to the right and the next set of rapids can be run. Just a couple of rocks to shimmy around.

For the next 3.1 km. the river courses its way through the Barron Canyon. The walls on both banks of the river grow steeper as you paddle, with the steepest section near the middle of the run. The view ids breath-taking so plan to spend a little while here. On a hot day the river at the bottom of the canyon is pleasantly cool. Watch for the ravens soaring overhead.

After the canyon the river widens out across a marshy plain. There is a lot of browse here and it is an excellent place for wildlife viewing. The last time I was through a young buck and I stared at each other warily through the undergrowth. I didn't have my glasses on and his black shape fooled me until I realized he wasn't a bear! Downstream another 3.3 km. brings you to Cache Rapids. Don't let the name fool you, this is a major chute if not a falls! Portage this one all the way (left bank - 420 metres).

The last stretch of the river to the picnic area is quite placid. A good time to contemplate how enjoyable the trip was. The picnic area where you can take out is 1.3 km. on the left shore. If you ditched your bike here all you have to do now is ride about 23-km. back to Achray.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
The Adventure Map "Barron/Achray: Algonquin Provincial Park" produced by Chrismar Mapping Service -
Special Comments: 

This is a very satisfying trip with beautiful scenery through new growth pine forest and sand lakes.