Bissett Lake

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
16 km
4 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
12650 m
Longest Portage: 
10500 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Note: first 'portage' is a cart trail of about 8280m.

Access point #24 on Bissett Road. Permits at Yates General Store in Stonecliffe on Hwy 17 about 1/2 hour away. The store opened at 9:00 on Sunday so I was not at the gate much before 10:00 which is a bit of a late start. I would prefer to have the permit ahead of time if I was more organized.

Marked as a 'low maintenance' route, it was in better shape than some others I have tried (Clover L and North Rouge L) and there were no real obstacles until the bog above Reed L.

'Cart trail' from park gate to first portage is the logging road that continues through the park. You are not allowed to drive to the portage. Marked on the map as 2205m to the Lost Coin intersection, then 6075m. The road surface is easy to walk on but there are a few hills to contend with and the gravel is loose in places so it's a fairly hard slog even with a cart.

P 2210m was clearly marked just beyond the 25km sign but trees have come down over the winter and it is now more obstructed. Hopefully the park will fix that soon. From there it is a foot portage (although someone appears to have used a cart, it seems too rough to me). The portage is rustic and overgrown in places but is marked with pink ribbons which you have to keep your eyes peeled for. I found a few lying on the ground and tied them back up again. There are many small sticks on the path which are constantly trying to trip you.

Gerald L is about 1000m paddle. Portage and camp signs had been repaired and updated in the summer of 2011.

P 430m marked on map seemed much shorter and my GPS said it was only about 230m at most.

Fitz L is about another 1000m paddle. At the N end there is a small, old portage sign. Follow the channel around the W end of the point and there is a new, large portage sign at the end which has been updated to a 15m lift-over; there is no 240m portage as shown on the map--bonus!

Reed L is about 1100m paddle to the next portage. I camped on Reed L and made a day trip up to Bissett L and back.

P 195m is also in good shape and marked with pink ribbons. It ends just below what looks like the remnants of the base of an old log chute.

On this and the following portages there were many trees and branches down from bad weather in the winter of 2011-12 but almost all of them were less than about 4" diameter and I was able to clear them with a small saw. I removed the branches from a few large logs so they could be stepped over. A few fallen trees were too big and high off the ground and I had to slide the canoe over and then climb over or around them.

The map shows about 1000m paddle through a bog to the next take-out. The channel was so narrow and choked with reeds that I could hardly push through it. There are timbers here and there that must have been part of some old system for getting logs through but I can't imagine how. Maybe in the highest spring water? Curiously, I found a forestry report saying that Reed L has never been logged. I could see a few old spikes and things in some the timbers that could damage the boat. A few turns are too tight for a 16' canoe but the bog is solid enough I got out and dragged the boat around. I also saw 3 or 4 wolves on the bog which ran away when they saw me. The first 300-400 m are the worst; after that another stream converges and the channel downstream is much better (it's easy going out because you're going downstream but remember to make a sharp left turn coming back or you'll take a scenic tour of the west end of the bog) although it does zigzag a lot and the actual paddling distance is much longer than it looks on the map.

A campsite is shown on the map about a couple of hundred meters up the bog but I could see no sign of one.

P 1510m. Again many small trees and branches down. Spent about an extra hour clearing them all. Portage is bumpy with a couple of hills.

Paddle about 450m. I thought I was lost for a minute because I had been travelling downstream on Bissett Creek but now you're going upstream on North Bissett Creek.

P 190m. Cleared more trees and branches. A campsite is shown on the map opposite the portage but I found no sign of it.

Bissett Lake; beautiful. Next time will add an extra day to spend there. Campsite on south side was in good shape although the tent areas seemed to be rather small. It once had an outhouse but all that remains is the seat propped up on some logs. It was a windy day with whitecaps and the trail clearing had used all my spare time so I did not travel any further but had lunch and headed back.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Canoe Routes of Algonquin Park map.<br />
Special Comments: 

Conclusion: Reed L was a reasonable distance for the first day. Beyond that would require going all the way to Bissett L, if there are indeed no campsites in between, which would be a serious push for one day. It took me 5 hours to reach Bissett L from Reed L but probably at least an hour of that was clearing the trails.

The route was in good shape for a low-maintenance route and I cleared any blockages. This region seems to have had more than its share of wind, ice, etc in recent years and fallen trees have been a problem everywhere I have gone so it's always a bit of an unknown. There must have been hundreds of cut-off trees along the access road which had come down in the winter. The park staff doesn't get to these low-maintenance routes until late in the year, if at all. It's hard to plan a trip when you don't know what you're in for. That's part of the adventure but if you plan a 4-day trip and find your stuck at the first lake, it's a bit of a waste of time. The attendant at the general store where I got the permit told me people had been in there this year but obviously no one had (not the first time I've received inaccurate information there).