Gogama - Mesomikenda Route

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
Submitter & Author Information
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Additional Route Information
89 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
3356 m
Longest Portage: 
1996 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Hwy 144 north of Sudbury then Hwy 661 to Gogama
Road access to Poplar Point on Minisinakwa Lake
South through Minisinakwa Lake
P 1998 m around rapids
Southwest through Mollie Lake
North through Dividing Lake
P 706 m to small unnamed lake
P 87 m to Mesomikenda Lake
North through Mesomikenda Lake
P 49 m around Mesomikenda Dam
P 149 m around rapids
Northeast through Makami Lake
P 118 m around rapids
P 229 m around falls
P 20 m around rapids
South to finish at Poplar Point

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Thanks to Jonathan Bishop for his trip notes
Gogama-Mesomikenda Loop

(N.B. These notes are for a mid-July trip at low water. RFZ was in effect.)

There are two adjoining canoe route loops passing through Dividing Lake/Mesomikenda Lake. The Gogama - Mesomikenda loop is the eastern loop, and it makes a great 3-5 day flatwater trip. Considering the proximity to highway 144, it is still a reasonably quiet and secluded trip. We saw no canoeists on this route, and there were no tracks on the portages.

The route has been adopted by the Gogama Chamber of Commerce, which has produced a high-quality colour brochure (free) with map and detailed route description, and the portages are actively maintained by the Dividing Lake rangers. Quite a bit of effort has been expended which will be appreciated by canoeists doing this route.

There are several access points, but a good place to start is in Gogama, with several stores open early and late, 7 days, and you can pick up a copy of the route description at the MNR office (business hours, M-F) if you don`t already have it.

Unfortunately, the Poplar Point campground at the Gogama put-in is now closed, although you can still park your car there. None of the other access points have designated camping areas. It is 6-7 hours drive from Toronto.

The route description is sufficient to follow this route. Topo maps are helpful but not needed. Note that the route description covers the two halves of the Gogama-Mesomikenda loop in point-to-point terms. To complete the loop, the best direction is clockwise, paddling upstream on the Mollie River and downstream on the Makami River. In this case, the route description along the Mollie river is reversed to the direction of travel. It is not recommended to try paddling upstream on the Makami since a mild current is present through much of the distance.

The following trip notes expand on information in the route description:

P20 - an easy carry on a road grade. This portage is said to have been used by the Hudson`s Bay company while transporting goods between the CPR at Biscotasing and the Mattagami river.

P19 - The portage trail bypasses only the bridge. For upstream travel, there is a further 100 metres of lining up a class I rapid immediately above the portage.

P18 - on the left for upstream travel.

Mollie L is quiet and very pleasant. Of the two marked sites, the north site is superb with all the amenities.

Mollie R is an easy upstream paddle with no perceptible current.
The spawning bed mentioned in the route description was not seen, just a single beaver dam liftover. At the twin culverts, just walk the boat through, no need to portage.

Dividing L is quiet, no cottages. The ranger camp appears closed on weekends, no visible activity.

P10 - going downstream now, it is easier to just lift over the two beaver dams than take the portage trail.

Mesomikenda L: busy with some power boat traffic from the lodge and public access. A long uninterrupted paddle thanks to the dam. The middle part of the lake before the narrows is relatively quiet, but through the narrows is another 20 cottages or so. Approaching the dam, the powerboat/cottages are left behind.

Makami L: narrow, quiet and attractive. Low rocky/marshy shoreline, widens and deepens at the northeast end. Saw one powerboat here, although not sure where it came from though as no road access is shown to this lake. Excellent campsite towards the northeast end on island (by south shore).

Makami R: this is the highlight of the loop. Very scenic, with a mixture of sandy and rocky banks, and great stands of jackpine. Shallow but free of obstructions and a mild current is present through much of the distance. There are many gravel bars, but the deeper channel is usually easy to
identify from the current.

P14 - easily lined on left, bypassing 50% of portage.

P15 - as you approach P15, you will be rounding a sharp bend to the right on the river. From a narrow sandy beach, right at the bend, find a new trail through a grassy area (not signed). This mini-portage bypasses a jumble of boulders at the entrance to the little bay of the route description. Then put back in and paddle 20 metres to the portage (signed), again on the right. P15 is not so rugged, but a bit hard to follow the path over the rock. It cuts sharply back down to river just as you hear the sound of
the water pass behind you.

P16 - easily lined at left.

The steep sandy bank several hundred metres beyond P16 is 20-30 feet high rising straight out of the water. There is no practical way to camp here and we saw only vague evidence of a campsite. The trail out to the unit road is there however; look for a bird nesting box nailed to a tree to know where to climb the bank.

Bald Rock. Well worth the short hike, millions of blueberries are found and the view is exceptional.

From Bald Rock, it is a solid 3 hour paddle back to Poplar Point. There are no obstructions, but the lower section winds at length through an open area of flats as the current has mostly disappeared.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
41 P/NW Gogama 41 P/SW Westree 41 O/NE Ridout


Post date: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 11:33


Be very careful in deciding to do the westernmost portion connecting Dividing Lake through several streams and lakes (like Schou and Wolf L.) to Mesimokenda L. in low water. The portages are well marked and well kept by the rangers. BUT. One stream was so shallow in a large swampy area that we ran out of water and had to slog our way through 30 yards of thick muck with no option to get to solid ground or turn around, and the muck was too deep to push off the bottom. In the 30 yrds, my partner, a 25 yr old wieght liffter, and I both severly injured our stomach muscles. He tore an old scar and I got a hernia. SERIOUSLY , be careful of this section.

Post date: Wed, 08/27/2008 - 13:44


Hi, thank you for this excellect description.