Chapleau - Nemegosenda Waterway Park

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
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Additional Route Information
236 km
12 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
9265 m
Longest Portage: 
1000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Hwy 129 at the town of Chapleau
Northeast on Chapleau River
Northeast through Henderson Lake
Northeast through D`Arcy Lake
P 225 m R from small lake to Robinson Lake
North through Robinson Lake
P 90 m L around rapids (swampy!) or CBR / line
P 270 m L around four closely spaced sets of rapids
P 65 m R around rapids - followed by narrows with fast water
P 250 m L around rapids with two waterfalls (vert. drop of 6 m)
P 110 m R around rapids or CBR / line
P 100 m R around rapids (or line)
P 80 m R around rapid (just around bend from previous set)
P 585 m around rapid (can be waded, but portage is easier)
P 215 m R around rapid (around sharp bend from previous set)
P 225 m R around narrow, steep gorge (vertical drop of 10 m)
North on Chapleau River
P 225 m R (begins in inlet) portage crosses road - rapid cannot be run/ waded
P 595 m L around rapid (don`t run!)
P 270 m L around steep, rocky rapids
P 35 m R or wade rapids
P 45 m R immediately after previous set - rocky rapids
North through Schewabik Lake
P 125 m R around rapids and falls
(just before rapid, the river narrows and begins to funnel in - portage begins 15m above falls)
(Very dangerous ... vertical drop of 8 m in high water conditions)
P 90 m R around rapids (don`t run!)
P 125 m centre of island where river forks - launch into last 45 m and run
P 125 m R around impassable rapids and falls
P 110 m R around rapid or CBR
P 180 m R around rapid (don`t run!)
P 180 m R around rapid or CBR (difficult and rocky!)
P 150 m R around two sets of rapids (CBR in low water)
P 90 m R around two sets of rapids (CBR / line with difficulty)
P 110 m R around rapids or wade (shallow, and rocky)
P 315 m around shallow rapid
P 270 m R around two sets of rapids (or CBR first and P 1409 m R second)
P 225 m R around rocky narrows with very swift current
P 270 m L around two sets of rapids (or CBR first and line second)
North through Kapuskasing Lake
East then south on Nemegosenda River
P 125 m R around steep rapid and falls (tourist camp at this location)
South through Frog Lake
P 225 m L around rapid (strong current against you on the approach)
P 110 m L around rapid
P 45 m R around rapid
P 90 m L around rapid (strong current follows)
P 360 m R around rapid
P 45 m R around rapid
South through Alcorn Lake
South on Nemogosenda River
South through Nemegosenda Lake
P 1000 m R from South end of Nemegosenda Lake
(portage begins just to the west of Borden River. Lift over a beaver dam into a small creek. The trail begins 100 m up this creek)
South on Borden River
South through Mate Lake
P 450 m from Mate Lake to Waweya Lake (steep hill!)
P 125 m from Waweya Lake to Westover Lake
(there is another trail leading out to Hwy 101 at this location)
South through Westover Lake
P 90 m to Leblanc Lake (up a steep bank to road, follow road to right for 50 m)
South through Leblanc Lake
P 600 m to Emerald Lake
South through Emerald Lake
P 250 m into Borden Lake
(Up a hill, across Hwy 101, then to a dirt road)
(Follow road on right for 60 m until a trail appears on the left - leads to Borden Lake)
South then west through Borden Lake
P 1000 m from Borden Lake to Mulligan`s Bay (hard to find trail!)
West through Mulligan`s Bay
South on Chapleau River to finish at town of Chapleau

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This is a report from a trip done in July of 94.
Day 1
We started at Chapleau from the public dock below the library where we parked our truck .The recommended starting point is the government dock on the Kebsquashing River although either one is good . The first several km is marshy. When you reach a narrow swift between rocky shores there is a couple of good campsites. These were taken by fishermen and we went on to a very nice island site in Henderson Lake about 10 km into our trip.
Day 2
We paddled down Henderson through D`Arcy to the portage into Robinson Lake. Good portage about 225 m. Make sure you don`t portage the trail along the rapids as it does not come out to the lake. We found this out the hard way. Out of Robinson there is a small chute that can be run and then a set of rapids that we ran. There is a portage 270 m on the left. We then ran some more rapids and then portaged 250 m on the left to avoid a small falls . We ran several more rapids all had portages and portaged 225 m on the right just before Narrow Lake. Our goal was a campsite at the south end of Narrow Lake but it was already taken . We found a good campsite at the north end of Narrow Lake. Just got set up and the fire going before a thunder storm passed through.
Day 3
We portaged the first half of the rapids and ran the second half. We ran several rapids and came to one with a 585 m portage marked on the left. We tried to scout the rapids but they ran away from the trail. They looked OK from the bottom and the top so we decided to run them. Ray and Lynne went first and Matt and I a few minutes behind. The run started out fine till we rounded the corner an I saw a double ledge right across the river. We eddied out and saw Ray and Lynne sitting on top of their over turned canoe. After securing our canoe we helped them right their canoe and pick up the gear that wasn`t still in the canoe. They lined the rest and Matt and I lined the ledges then ran the rest. A few more rapids and we came to Schewabik Lake. The campsite on the left sand spit was OK but someone had cleaned a lot of fish here and the smell was bad. The campsite a bit farther up on the right was fair and we camped there.
Day 4
While having breakfast we saw a moose across the bay. Shortly after leaving we saw a black bear and cub along the shore. At the end of Schewabik Lake there is a portage on the right 125 m. It is very steep and took 2 to a canoe to get up. This passes a nice little falls. Just below the portage on the right is a pictograph. The river then went on and we ran several rapids and portaged the last one were we found a campsite and set up camp. There we camped with a couple from New York. Here we swam in the rapids and tried fishing but only caught a few small pike.
Day 5
During breakfast 2 guys from London came through and asked if they could paddle with us. The couple from New York Carl and Loraine left before us and we let them go. It was starting to get crowded. There are several rapids and portages before the Makonie River but we were able to run them all. From here to Kapuskasing Lake we ran the rest of the rapids after careful scouting. The lake is quite shallow and we camped on a sand beach on the east shore.
Day 6
We left early to avoid any chance at being wind bound. Arrived at Elsas about an hour later and checked it out. A cluster of old houses a few still being used but most abandoned. The rail station is here and is no more than a level spot along the track. You can catch the train here if you made arrangements to Capreol or Sudbury. We then paddled under the rail bridge and paddled to the old saw mill at the start of the Kapuskasing River. Not much left here but some scrap and an old concrete building that has the roof caved in and trees growing up through. Some over 20 ft. high We then paddled back and found a nice campsite a few kms. south of the rail way bridge . It was only noon but we stopped and took the rest of the day as a layover. There is not a lot of campsites available for the next 30 kms so we swam baked and just lazed around.
Day 7
Left early as there is a long way between campsites on this section. Now we are going upstream but there is no current to speak of. We saw a few fishermen and saw a big bush plane land on a wide section with some clients for a fish camp. When it left it taxied fairly close to us and nearly dumped us in its wake . There is a nice campsite a few km north of Frog Lake where Carl and Lorraine were taking a layover day. Had lunch with them had a swim and paddled on. At the water falls coming out of frog Lake there is a fish camp at the portage. They had an out house here where we were able to replenish our supply of TP. Some of ours had gotten wet in the dump and we were running low. We ended up camping at the site where there was the remains of an old cabin where an Indian family had once lived before they all died from influenza.
Day 8
At the south end of Frog lake there is several rapids that need to be lined up or portaged. Then the river goes on sluggishly till we reached Alcorn Lake. We had intended to camp at a campsite at the south end but a fire had gone through and the site was burned over . From here to Nemegasenda Lake the river is slow and twists and turns quite a bit. There is a campsite at the North end of the lake on the right. Not a big site but it looked like rain and we were tired. Started to rain just as we got set up. Stopped long enough for us to have supper before a heavy thunder storm came through.
Day 9
Got going early to get across Nemegasenda before we got wind bound. About 10 km across so we stayed fairly close to shore. The portage to Borden creek was hard to locate. Once we did find it was uphill almost all the way but wet all the way up This was likely because of the rain the night before. It also seemed longer than the reported 1000 m. Borden Creek is small with the current against you but a pleasant paddle just the same. Mate lake is a pretty little lake that is cut in half lengthwise by an esker. The 400 m potage out is very steep the first 100 m or so. It leads to a small kettle Lake called Waweya. A short paddle across to a boggy 125 m portage takes you to Westover Lake. Here you could get a ride back to Chapleau or continue on. We paddled into a strong wind along Westover looking for a campsite. A short 90 m portage over a small road to Leblanc Lake and an OK campsite along the trail. There was a trailer parked a couple of 100 ft. away. This is the place we watched a bald eagle soar in the wind currents.
Day 10
Paddled across Leblanc Lake to the portage. Had a hard time finding the portage as we were to far to the right. The 600m portage took us to Emerald Lake. When we first saw this lake we couldn`t believe the color of the water. We thought we were in Banff. Beautiful clear green and rugged country around it makes for one of the most beautiful lakes in Ontario. Of course the sun was shining which made it even nicer. Had lunch at the south end of the lake so we could enjoy it just a bit longer. A 250 m portage takes you across hwy 101 to Borden Lake. We paddled along Borden looking for a campsite but the few we checked out were very dirty. We paddled on till we found one about 1 km before the portage back to the Chapleau River. Carl and Lorraine came by a bit later and camped with us.
Day 11
The wind came up during the night and I had to get up to secure the canoes. Up early as I wanted to get the 1500 m portage done before it started to rain. Paddled to the portage and carried through on a fairly good trail that is gently rolling. From there it is just a matter of paddling back to the starting point . We got back and loaded up just as it started to rain.
Great trip. Some very tough portages but a fair amount of wildlife

Joe and Carol Beynen

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 O/14 Chapleau 42 B/3 Swanson 42 B/6 Makonie 42 B/10 Elsas
Other Maps: 
41 O/NE Chapleau 42 B/SE Folyet 42 B/SW Missinaibi 42 B/SE Elsas (Provincial Series maps)