The Big Loop 2

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Additional Route Information
242 km
14 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
23100 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
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Lake Travel: 
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Route Description
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Route summary:
Wanapitei Outfitters on Lake Temagami -
Diamond Lake -
Wakimika -
Obabika -
Shishkong -
Bob - Diamond -
Lady Evelyn Lake -
Sucker Gut -
Hobart -
Tupper -
Hobart -
Sucker Gut -
North Channel Lady Evelyn River -
Katheryn Lake -
Macpherson -
Florence -
Ames Creek/Lake -
Mudchannel Lake -
Yorston Lake -
several small lakes west to the Sturgeon River -
Upper Goose Falls -
Obabika River -
Wawiagama Creek -
Wawiagama Lake -
Obabika Lake -
Obabika Inlet (Lake Temagami) -
Devil`s Bay - Wanapitei.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Daily summary of travel: In the writeup below, a full day was for our group about 8 hours on the water, including a cold lunch and a couple of GORP breaks and generally having fun as we travelled - no forced marches. A shorter day was a couple hours less; a long day was a couple hours more. D is the total distance travelled that day, P is the total portaging distance in yards, and N is the number of portages.
Day 1:
Wanapitei Outfitters (Ferguson Bay) to Diamond Lake (half day) Drove from North Bay to Wanapitei. Started with the 1200m "Jack Pine" portage from the parking lot down to the lake by Wanapitei. 825m "Napoleon" portage from Ferguson Bay to NW arm is steep at the beginning but a good trail overall. The 75m Sharp Rock portage from Sharp Rock Inlet to Diamond Lake is well named. The first campsite on a point to the right on Diamond had room for 1 tent max and was littered, so we continued on to the northernmost island on the central part of the lake - very nice site. D = 15km, P = 2100, N = 3
Day 2:
Diamond Lake to Obabika Lake (full day) We cached 2 weeks worth of food on Diamond Lake for our little 2-day loop from here. Headed to the west end of Diamond, there`s a neat crevasse in the rock on the left-hand side of the lake just before the first portage, just big enough to paddle a canoe into. The P430 from Diamond to a small unnamed lake is very rocky and tricky in the beginning, overall a somewhat difficult portage. The next P435 from the small lake to Wakimika is easy, mostly along a road. Everyone loved Wakimika Creek. We dragged over a few beaver dams, saw the blown up Red Squirrel Road bridge. We camped on a point at the very north end of Obabika just to the east of the the portage to Shishkong Lake. It`s a great location but heavily used and littered. D = 21km, P = 865, N = 2
Day 3:
Obabika Lake to Diamond Lake (shorter day) Steady uphill P770 to Shishkong, with some potential wrong turns. Just keep heading uphill. Hiked about 1/2 hour up the old growth trails - great view and beautiful trees. Shishkong is gorgeous with cliffs & big rocks. The old growth trails are marked with maps & start from the Shishkong end of the P and from the campsite on Shishkong. P850 to unnamed lake ends with about 200m of muskeg! Loads of fun and a big mess, everyone got very muddy. P275 to Bob a little muddy in the beginning but easy. P1200 to Diamond was dry and easy. D = 10km, P = 3100, N = 4
Day 4:
Diamond Lake to Hobart Lake (long day) Saw the pictographs on the west side of Diamond Lake, then were able to paddle through the liftover to Lady Evelyn Lake. Huge tailwind on Lady Evelyn Lake helped us make a big day. We did the little shortcut P100 at the north end of Lady E. It was marked as a P200, but was shorter than this and easy, a nice break from paddling. We stayed on the SW end of Hobart, OK campsite but littered. D = 28km, P = 100, N = 1
Day 5:
Hobart Lake to Sucker Gut Lake (long day, including hike) We had a great hike up Maple Mountain. When you get to the cliffs near the top, keep staying left and there is a good trail right to the top. We spent about 4-5 hours climbing the mountain and picking 2L of blueberries at the top. We didn`t climb the tower because of wind & lightning. Paddled down the the Frank Falls campsite because all other sites we passed on Sucker Gut were taken! It was a beautiful site just below the falls on the left. D = 18km, P = 0, N = 0
Day 6:
Sucker Gut Lake to Shangri-La campsite just beyond Katherine Lake (full day) We got an early start so we`d have time to play on the waterslides below Centre Falls. P125 past Frank`s Falls an easy one. P650 past Centre Falls very steep in places, but with good footholds. The portage goes over a little footbridge as it goes by the falls. This one would be very tough in the rain. We played & swam for a couple hours below Centre Falls and in the natural waterslides a bit downstream, wearing 2 PFD`s as a jacket and as a diaper. The slide has several channels, all were safely slidable in low water. P500 past Helen Falls (which are awesome!!!) is very steep in the beginning then not too bad. There is a beautiful campsite and swimming hole below Helen Falls. P360 - didn`t see the campsites advertized by Hap. Much easier than the last two portages. P280 into Katherine was not bad. At the far end of Katherine we lined the raps to the next small lake. P525 to Stonehenge is a good trail, a boulder garden at the end though. There are 2 campsites along this trail, one near Stonehenge Lake near the trail one near the middle of the portage well off the trail and difficult to find. However this one is WELL WORTH the effort finding, because it is the Shangri-La campsite and it is gorgeous. It`s next to a beautiful stretch of the river which is wide with numerous rapids and cascades. D = 9km, P = 2450, N = 6
Day 7:
rest day at Shangri-La
Day 8:
Shangri-La to unnamed Lake next to Lady E River (Fat Levi Lake) (full day) Lined raps out of Stonehenge then portaged along the rocky shore of the next raps into Macpherson - could have lined through. Enjoyed the hike up Macpherson Knoll and the great blueberries. P185 past falls on W end of Macpherson is rocky at the beginning then good. Next P155 not lineable. Next P130, P130, P55 we lined all but one. After a little lake there`s an option for a P440 or some lining then a P35 past a falls. The lining was easy and so was the P35, except for the small landing area on the upstream side. We found a shortcut to the South Lady Ev River through a small unnamed lake which some smart alecs in our group called Fat Levi Lake. We dragged the canoes unloaded through a muddy stream bed about 25m to a beaver dam then loaded them and lined them to the lake. Fat Levi Lake is actually a fairly pretty lake with a rough small campsite at the south end. The portage from the campsite to the south Lady E is level and in fairly good condition although somewhat overgrown. The landing on the South Lady E side is in a marsh. D = 10km, P = 400, N = 5, plus lots of lining
Day 9:
Fat Levi Lake to Florence Lake (shorter day) First stretch along the Lady Ev was very windy but deep enough to paddle and only about 1km/h of current. Eventually it opened up and became more rocky and rugged. We lined some C1`s along the Lady E but no more portages. We camped at a site by a large rock outcropping on the east side of Florence lake - awesome! gorgeous! spectacular! Lots of space to play frisbee even, great view and swimming. D = 22km, P = 200, N = 1
Day 10:
Florence Lake to Ames Lake (full day) We couldn`t find the trail to Florence Mountain, which was just as well because climbing it would`ve made this a very tough day. The P470 from Florence was overgrown, but fairly easy. Next P500-1000 was more like 400m - we headed down to the marsh as soon as we could see it. Can`t see how it would ever be a P1000! Ames Creek had no water! We found a P1800 on river right (RR) at the mouth that passed the whole length of the creek. It was a good trail, which crossed the creek at about 800m. Continued past the first marshy clearing into the second, larger clearing, then portaged through the short bushes to the trees where the creek became lineable. The creek was still very shallow with lots of wading and liftovers until Ames Lake. We stayed at the secluded, marshy but quite nice campsite at the south end of Ames Lake. D = 18km, P = 3000, N = 3
Day 11:
Ames Lake to unnamed lake on Yorston River just past P175 chutes after a long, skinny lake. (long day) P225 from Ames Lake starts from the back of the campsite - good trail. Swampy paddling to the next lake, but at least it was paddleable. Here was saw an enormous (about 75m wide!!!) beaver dam. P155 was swampy and hard to find, mostly a bushwack - best to start on the right of the swamp, then cross over and finish on the left. P240 starts to the left of a beach in a marshy area, along a moose trail then along a good path through the woods. P690 was OK. P420 at the opposite end of the bay as the last portage was steep at the beginning and rocky at the end. A very tough slog through Mudchannel Creek to Mudchannel Lake on the Yorston River. We started wading for a couple hundred metres until people started getting swallowed by the swamp, then lined, then dragged/dogsledded the canoes, then the creek became so windy that the canoes wouldn`t fit and we had to portage the rest of the way to the lake. It would have probably been easier to start portaging much sooner, but we were having fun dogsledding. This stretch was pretty exhausting. We had 4 portages on the Yorsten before reaching a long, skinny, beautiful, rugged lake with lots of cliffs. These portages were all slippery, rocky, and treacherous. The P175 past some chutes was a good trail. The site to the left after the P175 didn`t exist, the one on the right was steep and a bit rough but with a great view. D = 11km, P = 3400 (counting the dragging through Mudchannel Creek), N = 11
Day 12:
Unnamed Lake on Yorston River (near Bull Lake) to Upper Goose Falls on the Sturgeon River (very long day) First P125 on the left of the bay goes up the hill then down, fairly easy. Next P230 to the left of a falls was VERY tough because we lost the trail and had to crash through all sorts of bush and deadfalls. The trail itself wasn`t much better, but it stays fairly high up on the hill to the left. It is a beautiful falls though. The first campsite on Seagram Lake looked pretty overgrown by young regrowth after the recent forest fire. P745 to Yorston Lake started with a big uphill but over good trail. It took a 10m jog to the right on the road then left again down to the water. Yorston Lake is beautiful and would be a great place to camp. There was a crazily developed but unmarked campsite just to the right after the P745. P1595 out of Yorston was relatively easy trail without much elevation change, but had a "carwash" of young fir regrowth near the beginning. The trail followed a road for about 400m near the end. Next P895 we crossed the creek a couple times and everyone got lost, so you may not want to follow my directions on this one. It was a good trail when we were on it. P645 to the Sturgeon River: took a right turn on an ATV trail, then crossed Pilgrim Creek. The creek crossing was not simple, but we were careful and made it across without event. In high water you could bushwack about 20m upstream and cross a calm pool. Going down the Sturgeon was fun through numerous swifts and D1`s. Pulled in at Upper Goose Falls at around 9pm in the dark, after about a 12-hour day including lunch. It was a good place to do some night paddling though, as the last 2 hours is just windy calm river. The pullout above the falls at a big rock on river right is obvious and in slow water. D = 29km, P = 5000, N = 7
Day 13:
Rest day at Upper Goose Falls By the way, this is a great spot. The best campsite is on the portage trail, river right of the falls. There`s another nice but sandy site below the falls on river left. In a pinch, you could walk up the 4x4 trail from the portage campsite to a field about 100m back. We ahad a great time swimming and playing in the rapids just below the falls.

Day 14:
Upper Goose Falls to Wawiagama Lake (shorter day) A short paddle down the Sturgeon (~30min) through some more swifts to where the Obabika River enters on river left of the Sturgeon. The portage starts on river left of the Obabika on an open, rocky landing. The only tricky part of this 1000m portage is in the beginning where it goes over a couple thigh-high deadfalls, then up about a 15 foot clay bank. After this the portage is flat and easy. At the far end is an OK but non-scenic campsite at the put-in on the Obabika River. The Obabika Falls are beautiful - worth a stop along the trail. We took about 2 1/2 hours paddling up the Obabika River to Wawiagama Creek. After going under the bridge the river gets rockier along the shorelines and you`re close to the Creek. There are big cliffs visible just north of Wawiagama Creek to serve as a landmark. Paddling along the Obabika River is pretty hard work against a strong current, but it`s deep enough to paddle in most places. Wawiagama Creek is tiny = lots of wading, lining, and liftovers, but it only took about an hour to Wawiagama Lake. We camped on the NW end of the lake, on a nice site with pretty much unlimited space. D = 12km, P=100, N=1
Day 15:
Wawiagama Lake to Lake Temagami, just north of Devil`s Island (full day with a headwind on Obabika Lake, tiring) P1000 to Obabika starts right in the weeds in a bay on the NE end of Wawiagama Lake. Watch out for poison ivy at the beginning of the trail. This trail has a couple of deadfalls in the beginning which you can go around, the a huge fallen spruce which is a pain to get by. The trail then crosses a road and is easy the rest of the way. P940 from Obabika Lake to Obabika Inlet is easy - take the left fork near the end. There`s a nice site on a point on the way to the Devil`s Bay portage. This is an easy P640 with a short muddy stretch near the Obabika Inlet side. Stayed on a point just north of Devil`s Island - well used but great spot. D = 30km, P=2600, N = 3

Day 16:
to Wanapitei (90 min paddle) Paddled out to Wanapitei, past some big jumping cliffs on the right just before going around the bend to Wanapitei. Did the P1200 Jack Pine Portage again back up to the cars. D = 9km, P = 1200, N = 1

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
&nbsp;41 P/1 Obabika Lake <div>41 P/8 Lady Evelyn Lake</div> <div>41 P/7 Smoothwater Lake</div> <div>40 P/2 Pilgrim Creek</div> <div>41 I/15 Milnet</div> <div>(Milnet only has 5 uneventful kilometers of the Sturgeon and probably isn`t worth buying)</div> <div>41 I/16 Lake Temagami</div>
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
Other Maps: 
Special Comments: 

This is a challenging and fantastic, scenic, remote, exciting route which takes you through over 30 different lakes and 2 major river systems, as well as some great hiking side-trips and A++ campsites.

It could be split into 2 separate separate trips, a 4-day trip and a 14-day trip. There are also possibilities to shorten or lengthen or otherwise modify the large loop. For example, the loop could shortened by 1/2 to 1 day by going through Bluesucker Lake instead of Ames Creek or by skipping Maple Mountain. It could be lengthened by 2-3 days by taking the Solace chain of lakes from Bluesucker Lake to Twin Falls on the Sturgeon River.

Our group: We had 12 people for days 1-3, 8 people for days 4-6, and 7 people for days 7-16. We had 3 complete beginners for the first 3 days; after that it was an experienced group. We did the portages up until day 10 in "almost" 1 trip, with 1 or 2 people going back to the start to pick up extra loads, and after that in 1 trip.

Our style of travel was generally efficient, but with healthy amount of goofing off and always having fun.