George Lake to Norway Lake

CanadaOntarioGeorgian Bay coast
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Admin
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Unknown
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
31 km
Duration: 
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
6
Total Portage Distance: 
5450 m
Longest Portage: 
1975 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Novice
Lake Travel: 
Novice
Portaging: 
Moderate
Remoteness: 
Novice
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start at access point on George Lake
P 80 m around dam
East through Freeland Lake
P 455 m to Killarney Lake
North then east through Killarney Lake
P 1390 m to Norway Lake
Camp night one on Norway Lake
P 1470 m to Kakakise Lake
Camp night two on Kakakise Lake
Southwest on Kakakise Lake
P 1975 m beside Kakakise Creek
West through Freeland Lake
P 80 m R around dam
West then south through George Lake to finish.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This route description is based on a trip paddled in August 1996 by a group of four paddlers in two canoes. Water levels were moderately high due to a day of very heavy rain just before the trip.
Day 1 (5 hours / 15 km paddling / 785 m portaging)

The route began at the main campground of Killarney Provincial Park at George Lake. We paddled north then northeast to the end of George Lake. The first portage was a simple 80 m left around an old logging dam between George and Freeland Lakes. The portage begins at a floating "dock" at the end of George Lake and puts in at a shallow area on Freeland Lake. We continued northeast on Freeland Lake. Freeland is long and narrow, and the surface is almost completely covered with lily pads. We paddled to the end of the lake and found the portage to Killarney marked on the north shore. The 455 m portage was fairly level (some rolling hills) and well-defined. We stopped at the mid point of the portage to walk through the bush to Chikanishing Creek, which flows parallel to the portage trail. It is a small, scenic creek that tumbles over sections of flat rock as it makes its way from Killarney to Freeland.

We travelled north then northeast on Killarney Lake. After a lunch stop half way along Killarney, we paddled to the east end of the lake. The portage to Norway Lake was marked on the north side at the end of the lake.
The 1390 m portage is not difficult, but it is quite long, so we chose to paddle the creek. The mouth of the creek was blocked by a large log jam. We pulled the loaded canoes over on the right side. About 200 m further down the creek we encountered the second liftover, a 10 ft. high beaver dam. We portaged around the left side of the dam. This was the final obstruction until the creek narrowed down to almost nothing near Norway Lake. At this point, an intermediate portage trail is marked on the left. It leaves the creek at this point and heads north to join the long portage. We estimated this "short-cut" portage to be about 250 m long. Judging by the water levels and the depth of the creek, it is doubtful if the 1390 portage would ever be required unless water levels were extremely low.

Norway Lake is a small, clear lake with quartzite outcroppings along the north shore. It was the location that we had chosen to spend our first night. There are three campsites on the lake. The first campsite (13) is on a small island at the end of the portage. It is the smallest and poorest quality of the sites. It has room for 2-3 small tents and the ground has a lot of exposed rocks and roots. At the opposite end of the lake is site 11. We stayed at this location. The site has a nice base of pine needles and room for 4-5 tents. The tent / cooking area is about 20 ft. above lake level. It is west-facing to catch the afternoon sun and has excellent rock outcrops for swimming and star-gazing. There is even a small cliff on the north side of the campsite with deep water below that is perfect for jumping into the lake. The final campsite (12) is in a pretty, secluded bay at the extreme southeast corner of the lake next to the campsite. Although we did not inspect the site because it was occupied at the time, we spoke to the group camping there and it is apparently quite large with room for 6-7 tents.

Day 2 (2 hours / 4 km paddling / 1470 m portaging)

Day two started with a short paddle to the end of Norway Lake. At this location we found the start of the 1470 m portage to Kakakise Lake. Although long, the portage was not particularly difficult. There is a large clearing in the bush right at the start of the trail where equipment can be piled. The trail began with a moderate uphill slope with some sections of "boardwalk". It intersected the Silhouette Hiking Trail twice along this section. There was a short but steep uphill section after that, then the remainder of the trail was a gentle downhill grade all the way to the put-in at Kakakise Lake.

Kakakise Lake was our destination for night two. There are three sites on Kakakise. We stayed at site 9, on a point at the north end of the lake. It was a good site with level sites for about five tents, although the swimming area was not as nice as that of the previous night on Norway. The second site (8) was on a small island just south of our campsite. At the time we visited in 1996 the site was closed for rehabilitation. We stopped to look at it, and found a classic example of a site so overused that it was beaten flat. With the exception of the large trees, there was literally no underbrush or ground cover present on the island. Every available twig and stick that could be burned in a fire had been stripped from the island. There were enough cleared tent sites to hold a troop of boy scouts. Rehabilitation had not yet begun when we stopped to inspect it. The third site (7) is on the south side of Kakakise about half way down the lake. It was occupied so we did not stop to see it, but the family camping there told us it was nice but smaller, with room for 2-3 tents. A private cottage also exists on Kakakise on the large island at the centre of the lake.

We had purposely arranged our route with a very short second paddling day because we wanted to do some ridge hiking along the north side of Kakakise. We simply paddled over to the north side of the lake and bushwacked up the hill until we intersected the Silhouette Hiking Trail. It would also be possible to backtrack up the Norway to Kakakise portage until the Silhouette Trail is intersected, and hike from that point. Grades were quite steep and there were sections of thick bush to struggle through, but the views from the top were magnificent. We hiked west along the trail to see Shingwak, Proulx and Little Superior Lakes, then returned by the same route. It is important not to underestimate the amount of time require for this type of hiking. Although we only hiked 4 or 5 km map distance, the trek took us four hours because of the steep grades and the hot weather. Remember to carry drinking water, because there is none available along the trail.

Day 3 (3 hours / 15 km paddling / 80 m portaging)

Our final day involved paddling out from Kakaise to the George Lake take-out. We paddled to the southwest corner of Kakakise and into a small bay. A portage sign is visible on the right (west) shore - it is the 1440 m portage to Killarney. We continued past this sign, into the small creek and past the portage sign on the left marking the 1975 m portage to Freeland Lake since we had decided to paddle the creek. The creek was very narrow and scenic, passing through an area thick with water lilies, pickerel weed and tall reeds. For much of the time, the creek was not much wider than the canoes. There were a few liftovers at beaver dams, but all were quite easy. The creek evenually widened into a bay at the end of Freeland Lake. This bay was literally choked with Pickerel Weed. Had the water been even a bit lower, the creek would have been a difficult paddle.

We continued southwest on Freeland Lake, crossed the 80 m portage into George Lake and returned to finish at the main campground on George Lake.

Richard Munn
August 1996

Footnote : July 1997

This additional note is based on another trip into Norway Lake in July 1997. We arrived at the entrance to the creek from Killarney to Norway Lake and encountered a "good news-bad news" scenario. The good news was that the water levels were high enough to simply paddle around the log jam we had lifted over the previous year. The bad news was that the ten foot high beaver dam had collapsed at some point over the previous year. It left a huge pile of debris downstream from its previous location. More important, it caused a drop in water levels of about eight feet in the creek and pond between Killarney and Norway. Instead of the wide, easily navigable area from our previous trip, we were faced with a "mud flat" with a very narrow winding "ditch" to paddle through. Not being great lovers of 1400 m portages, we decided to paddle this small "creek". About half way through, after pushing and poling our way through a fermenting mixture of organics, water, weeds and swamp gas we conceded defeat and carried our canoes over to the portage trail which parallels the creek on the north side. We hauled our gear the remaining 600 or so metres and put into Norway Lake. If we to paddle the route again, we would probably opt for the entire portage and eliminate wading through knee-deep mud as we had to in places.

We met a few groups as we paddled and were given varying opinions about the best way to get from Kakakise Lake to Freeland Lake. Some groups used the 1975 m portage directly from Kakakise to Freeland (and they all commented on the thickness of the pickerel weed bed at the east end of Freeland). Others said that they had opted for a two-stage approach and used the 1440 m portage to get from Kakakise to Killarney; then used the 455 m portage to get from Killarney to Freeland. We were a little puzzled that nobody had tried to paddle Kakakise Creek instead of either of the portage options, but assumed that these groups had "checked it out" and perhaps water levels were simply too low to permit paddling the creek. As mentioned before, we are not lovers of long portages, so we decided to paddle the creek as far as we could. To our surprise, we paddled the entire length easily (three small pullovers at beaver dams) and in no time at all were sitting beside the portage sign marking the end of the trail from Kakakise to Freeland. True, we did have to fight through a couple of hundred metres of very thick pickerel weed, but we would have had to do that if we had taken the portage anyway. The moral of the story? Sometimes it`s worth checking water levels and seeing if creeks are navigable before hitting the portage trail.

Richard Munn
July 1997

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 I/13 Lake Panache
Other Maps: 
Killarney Provincial Park map published by Friends of Killarney - shows all campsites, portages, etc
Other
Special Comments: 

Although the portages sound awfully long, the route isn`t that bad. The 1390 m between Killarney and Norway can usually be partially bypassed by lifting over a log jam and the remains of a beaver dam, paddling part of the creek and doing only the second half of the portage into Norway. Similarly, the 1975 m portage that runs alongside Kakaise Creek as you head from Kakakise into Freeland is not always necessary. If water levels permit, you can paddle Kakakise Creek, although there are a number of shallow spots and simple liftovers at obstructions.

Photo Gallery

Comments

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00

Comments: 

Just returned from Killarney (Sept.6, 2005). The beaver dam between Killarney Lake and Norway Lake has been rebuilt, so there is enough water in the creek to avoid the 1300m. portage between the lakes. It was fun paddling the winding creek up to the portage.