Galeairy - Clydegale - Cauliflower - Hay Lake

Submitter & Author Information
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Additional Route Information
42 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
6900 m
Longest Portage: 
1680 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start from Access Point 13 in the town of Whitney.
Paddle West across Galeairy Lake to Night Lake. Portage 80m onto Night Lake.
West across Night to Pen Lake. Portage 1680m onto Pen Lake.
South down Pen Lake to Clydegale Lake. Portage 280m onto Clydegale.
Spend first night on Clydegale Lake.
From SouthEast edge of Clydegale, follow the South Madawaska River to the 1440m portage onto Cauliflower Creek.
Follow the Cauliflower Creek east to Cauliflower Lake. Portages of 90m and 1300m along the way.
Spend second night on Cauliflower Lake.
From South end of Cauliflower, portage 990m onto Hay Creek.
Follow Hay Creek East into Hay Lake.
Exit at Access point 16, on Hay Lake.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Putting into the water around 10:30am in Whitney, it took us about 2.5 hours to paddle to the Night Lake portage. We had lunch after the 1680m portage onto Pen Lake, then continued on down to Clydegale.
A storm was brewing, so we took the campsite on the Eastern side of Clydegale, just a few minutes down from the portage from Pen. We got there about 4:30pm. It was a nice campsite, with good shelter from the windstorm that came through late that afternoon and night.
The second morning, we got going about 10:30am again, and quickly got down to the marsh through which the south Madawaska enters Clydegale. But it took us half an hour to find a navigable passage into the actual river mouth, because of the height of the river grasses, and the low water level.
Once we got into it, the South Madawaska twisted & turned a fair bit, and the water level was low, but manageable.
Cauliflower Creek, on the other hand, was a brutal slog between the 1440m portage and the 90m portage. It's only 2 or 3km on the map, but it took us 2-3 hours to cover it. There were probably at least 25 beaver dams across it, over which we had to lift the boats. The creek was often too shallow to paddle properly, and we had to push ourselves along with our paddles much of the time.
We hadn't even got as far as the 90m portage by 6pm, and we knew we'd never make it to Cauliflower Lake by the time the sun set at 7:30. We were looking for suitable ground to make camp on for the night, when we finally got to the 90m portage. It crosses a road, and we found an unofficial campsite already cleared out, no doubt by people who had been in the same situation that we were in. A local resident who drove by in his truck informed us that we would have been better off portaging along the road that ran between the P1440 and the P90. Believe me, next time we will.
He also told us that the water level would improve in the remaining section of Cauliflower Creek, so with some trepidation, we continued along the creek on the third morning, starting about 10:00am.
And he was right. We were able to cover the 2km to the 1300m portage in about 40 minutes. The creek was still quite twisty, and it was a challenge to make the turns in our 17 foot boat, but the water level was great, and we only saw 3 beaver dams.
The 1300m portage into Cauliflower Lake and the 990m portage into Hay Creek were both smooth & level. Easy, except for their length.
We encountered a strong headwind and then crosswind, crossing Hay Lake, and made it to the exit for about 2:30pm.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
The Adventure Map series, Algonquin #3 (Corridor South) covers the area in good detail, but does not show the P80 portage between Galeairy & Night Lakes. It also does not differentiate between the maintained and unmaintained portages, the way the official Algonquin Park Map does.
Special Comments: 

The portages on this route are long, but not difficult terrain. The "unmaintained" ones on the latter half of the route are largely ATV tracks, and are generally smooth, wide, and level.
The difficult part of this route is following the narrow & twisty Cauliflower Creek, and dealing with the dozens of beaver dams along the way. We ran this route at the beginning of October, after a dry summer. In the spring, water levels might be high enough to make it easier to paddle.