Kukagami - Carafel - Donald Lk Loop

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Sid Bredin
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
42 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
2600 m
Longest Portage: 
1000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Kukagami Lake
North then east through Outlet Bay
P 150m R
cross small pothole
P 80m L
east on Carafel Creek
P 110m R
east on Carafel Ck
P 440m R
creek to Carafel Lake
north then east on Carafel Lake
east on creek 2 LO’s
north on Maskinonge Lake
P 140m L
cross pothole (Or carry around L)
P 320m L
west on pothole
P 70m R around small waterfall
cross pothole
P 60m R
west on Potvin Lake
P 180 L
west on creek
P 60m R
southwest on Donald Lake
P 1000m R to Kukagami
southerly to start

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Kukagami - Carafel - Donald Lake Loop, Solo - Oct 2008

The Thanksgiving weekend had passed me by with it's gorgeous summer like weather (I had to work) but the 3 day forecast for Thursday - Saturday following was for reasonable weather, cool but only a slight chance of a couple showers. I quickly decided to book off Thursday/Friday and do a quick loop in the Chiniguichi area, northeast of Sudbury and close to home. A friend of mine, Mike McIntosh, of the Friends of Chiniguichi, had spent some time clearing the ports along part of the route from Kukagami Lake to Carafel Lake a few years ago so I decided to head out to Carafel and then loop back to Kukagami through a series of potholes and Potvin and Donald lakes.
Day 1

Left the house at about 9:00 headed to Sportsman Lodge - Sportsman Lodge- on Kukagami Lake northeast of Sudbury. Arrived at the lodge at 10:10 and after a quick check to ensure I could call Jan (2 pay phones available – 1 outside/1 inside the lodge) I loaded up the canoe and was on my way at 10:30.

Its mid week after the Thanksgiving weekend and the lake is quiet. I see only a few folks along the way, most likely some of the approx 100 permanent residents on the lake. The weather is cool, partly overcast and the wind is out the northwest at about 15km/hr. I head north on Kukagami and soon I turn east down Outlet Bay heading for the first portage on Carafel Creek. The portage is easy to find and leads from Outlet Bay to a small pond area in the creek. The sun makes an appearance and I sit and enjoy my lunch at the bottom of a small rapid. A quick paddle across the pond leads to a short portage into a larger widening in the creek and it is approx 1 km to the next portage. The country is a mix of rock and pine – Red and White Pine with a mix of Jack pine and Spruce scattered throughout. The next portage again skirts a rapid and waterfall and leads to another wide section of the creek. Another 15 minutes and I’m at the portage past yet another falls into the last section of creek before Carafel Lake. The portages throughout this section were all rehabilitated by the some of the Friends of Chiniguichi group a few years ago and are all in excellent shape.

The creek from the last portage to the lake is a winding swampy section and I encounter several flocks of ducks along the way. As I enter the lake a boat passes heading to the south end of lake, most likely a group of hunters. Carafel Lake is orientated north/south and as I’m headed for Maskinonge Lake I turn north and head into the wind once again. There is a beaver dam across the outlet from lake but it is only a couple feet high and easy to lift over. Once again the creek winds its way through some swampy and flooded wood areas on its route to Maskinonge. There is a bridge across the creek that has been removed after the logging in the area was completed and the beavers have again dammed the creek here. This is a much more ambitious affair and is a good 5-6’ high! I again encounter another dam about 100 metres shy of Maskinonge Lake. After lifting over it is readily apparent that the dam is open downstream as the lake is a good 5.5’ lower than the high water mark. In fact it is low enough that I can’t float the last bit of the creek and must portage across the boulder field to the lake.

Maskinonge is actually a part of the Chiniguichi River system so the water tends to fluctuate up and down pending time of year and demands for water from the dammed portions of the system. As it orientated north/south, I am once again headed into the wind. There is a nice campsite on the west shore just north of the creek mouth but I decide to head further north to an island as it is still only mid afternoon. I see a few boats traveling the lake but not much else. I reach my intended camp for the evening at 4:00 pm and the skies clear. After setting up my tent and sleeping gear for the evening I sit facing the west and read with a cup of tea in the warm late afternoon sun. I cook supper and clean up at 6:00 in anticipation of it being dark at about 7:15-7:30. I sit around a small fire and watch the nearly full moon rise in the clear crisp evening. The moon is very bright, reflecting on the water and the stars put on a good show but I finally retire around 9:30 to the tent and a good book.

Distance paddled – approx. - 17.7 km
Distance portaged – approx. – 800 m with 3 lift overs
Total travelled – 18.5 km

Day 2

It was a cool damp morning to wake up to and the lake was totally fogged in and the temperatures hovered around -1C. The fly on the tent was covered in frozen water droplets from the fog and the condensation on the underside of the fly was also frozen. As I was no great hurray on this trip, I rolled over and stayed in my sleeping bag till 8:00 am. The fog was still thick when I arose and while I had breakfast and packed it started to dissipate and some sun and blue skies poked through. I was loaded and on the water at 9:30 and heading north on Maskinonge in patchy fog conditions. However there was no wind and the sun continued to burn the fog patches off. I passed two camps on the west shore as I headed for the first portage of the day. It was a beautiful sunny calm morning and the moon was slowly setting over the sunlit pines that line the shores of the lake. Quiet and peaceful with just the noise of the water passing down the side of the canoe – seems like you can never have enough mornings like this one. It was about an hour paddle to the portage that leaves Maskinonge and takes the route west again through a series of ponds and lakes to Donald Lake. This route is a favourite of the canoe camps in the area and they keep it maintained. The first portage is approx 1000 m although you could paddle a portion of it down the length of the first pond but I just carried the whole thing. The first put in is just passed an old rock and timber dam that is a remnant of the old logging drives in the area. The portage actually goes across a portion of the dam but someone has cleared a path through the rocks. A quick 10 minute paddle brings you to the second short portage around a pretty little falls. Another 10 minutes brings you to another short portage through along a rocky creek bed into Potvin Lake. The skies started to cloud over and the temps dropped a bit and the wind came up and as usual I had to paddle into it!

At the west end of Potvin lake is rapid/falls that has a portage along the left side. This portage actually starts out fairly benignly but it carries uphill and then you need to be part mountain goat as it consists of a path along the side of a rocky cliff area. At the far end you have to climb down/up about 15’. I dropped the canoe and moved my pack to the end and then went back for the canoe. I had to let it down the vertical drop, climb down and then carry on. In hindsight, you could start out left – carry up to the pond in the middle and then paddle across to the right side and finish the portage into the creek on the other side – bypassing the mountain goat path entirely!! I passed in a period of low water and this may or may not be feasible in the spring high water season as the current may not allow for the left to right crossing across the pond area. It was another 10 minutes or so to the short lift over from the creek into Donald Lake.

Donald Lake is a beautiful lake, one of my favourite places and has several great campsites, particularly in the north end. As it was still early afternoon, I decide to push on and do the last portage of the trip back into Kukagami Lake. It leaves Donald Lake in the southwest corner and is about 1000 m to Kukagami Lake but is a well used and maintained portage. Once on Kukagami I headed for a campsite and the skies opened up and I endured a quick 3 minute rain shower. Of course, as soon as it was over the sky cleared and the sun reappeared to dry me quickly. Once at thecampsite I had to hang the tent, fly and my tarp as I had packed them wet in the morning but the sun and breeze dried everything quickly out on the point. After supper I again had a small campfire and did some stargazing till I headed off to bed and my book.

Distance paddled – approx. - 13.08 km
Distance portaged – approx. - 2200 m
Total travelled – approx. - 15.3 km

Day 3

It was another cool night but without the heavy fog of the previous morning. There was a covering of frost on everything and the temp was -4C and like the previous morning I stayed abed till 8:00 am before getting up for breakfast and tea. It was another beautiful day with no wind and clear sunny skies. I had a leisurely breakfast, washed up and packed. I left camp at 10:30 and as I rounded the point to head south I spotted a bald eagle sitting in a snag. Kukagami Lake has 2 distinct parts the northern basin is the undeveloped portion of the lake and is separated from the developed southern basin by narrows about 1 km long. I was in no hurry and slowly paddled along the shoreline past some cottages and such. Soon enough I was headed southwest across a long reach around an isthmus. I had lunch in the boat along a sheltered shore and headed north and west to the end of the trip. I arrived back at The Sportsman Lodge at about 12:30. I carried my kit back up to the lodge office area and went in and phoned my wife to come and pick me up. While I waited, I sat in the lodge dining area warming myself in front of the wood stove and enjoyed a nice cold beer and some conversation with George the lodge owner.

The Sportsman Lodge offers canoe outfitting, trip planning assistance, shuttle service and secure parking for canoeists wishing to canoe in the Chiniguichi area near Sudbury. It sure is a nice bonus to finish your trip at the lodge with a cold beer!

Distance paddled – approx. 8.2 km
Total trip distance – approx. - 42 km

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 I/9 41 I/10 41 I/15 41 I/16
Special Comments: 

Loop trip - no overnight parking at access point on Kukagami Lake.
Use Sportsmans Lodge for parking, shuttles and outfitting in the area


Post date: Sun, 01/12/2020 - 09:26


Nice Report. We did this trip last July though we went north and in through Colin Scott. Beautiful and well worth the extra effort. Here is a blog of our trip:



Post date: Fri, 12/04/2009 - 15:17


I recenlty did this loop with my mother on Labourday weekend 2009. The weather was mild and paddling traffic was nil.

Instead of leaving the vehicle at The Sportsman Lodge, however, we parked at Rolly Jonas' and paddled up Maskinonge, and entered Donald Creek through what is known as the "defile"....good name! I would recommend getting this portage over with at the beginning of the trip, since it requires much energy, lots of balance and coordination, and some logistical planning! But completely do-able if you use some common sense. I would not recommend doing this portage on a solo trip unless you are a very well-seasoned paddler.

Portage from Potvin to small lake east of Donald, as described above is on the south side of the outlet from Potvin to small lake, however, if you visit Ottertooth there are some detailed canoe route maps of this area. I had one with me, and it noted the portage to be on the north side of the passage. After spending 30 minutes exploring, we determined this north bank path was much more appropriate.

The Upper Kukagami Lake was rather busy with motorboats, since high water levels allowed entrance from Kukagami. The camp sites in this location appeared to be very well-used.

We used Carafel Creek to return to Maskinonge. The Carafel is one of my favourite areas in Chiniguchi. Although to enjoy this location, one must be prepared to have many short paddles mixed with short portages. A lot of in and out of the boat. But the quiet and the waters here are worth that little hassle.