La Verendrye, Circuit 78 (La Perche-Chartier)

CanadaQuebec04 Ottawa
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Andrew Chapman
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
59 km
Duration: 
4 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
7
Total Portage Distance: 
1530 m
Longest Portage: 
875 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

La Verendrye, Circuit 78 (La Perche–Chartier)

North on highways 15 and 117 from Montreal to Le Domaine (335 km and 4 hours).
North on highway 117 from Le Domaine to road 38 (96 km and 1 hour).
Southwest on road 38 to the turn-off for Camping Barker (another 26 km and 40 min or so).
Short road from turn-off to put-in at Camping Barker (another 3 km and 10 min; 125 km and 1 hr 50 min from Le Domaine).

Northwest through Baie Barker into Grand Lac Victoria.
Southwest down Grand Lac Victoria through Baie des Missionnaires.
Southeast to Lac du Chef and the P875 (not 965) across an esker to Lac Graham.
Southeast on Lac Graham to a P110 into Lac la Perche.
East on Lac la Perche to a P60 into Lac Petegem.
North on Lac Petegem to a P30 (West of the bridge) into Lac Chartier.
Northeast on Lac Chartier into the Riviere de la Baie.
P250 past two shallow RIIs, and continue North.
Eau vive (fast water) and RII with no portage.
P185 around an RII, and P20 around a shelf (an old collapsed bridge).
West into Grand Lac Victoria, and North and East back though Baie Barker to the put-in.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

TRIP LOG
Day 1
I left Montreal (NDG) by 7:15 on a Thursday morning and it was a 4 hour drive to Le Domaine. I gassed-up, had lunch at the restaurant, got my access permit, marked changes to the Guide Map (grooming of the circuit is now every five years), and headed out again by 11:45. Going North on the 117, I reached road 38 in one hour (96 km), and then reached the turn-off to Camping Barker and the put-in at 1:35 (125 km and 1 hr 50 min from Le Domaine). Road 38 passes through a nice settlement by the dam (barrage), and the gravel road is rough in spots, but generally in pretty good shape. Speed on this road is about 30 to 60 km/hr. The put-in is a boat ramp on a small point right beside several SEPAQ camping sites. I parked just up the road from this across from an outhouse.

Winds from the North helped me to get to the first C4 (77-13) on the West side of Grand Lac Victoria (47º30’15N, 77º31’16W). There is a huge rock landmark near some islands where the loop portion of the circuit begins. The C4 site had a nice beach and view of the bay, and was sheltered by many trees. There was a sandy beach, but it was quite shallow with lily pads all about, and a swampy area just around the corner. I considered continuing 5 km more to the C2 (77-18) at the tip of the esker, but decided to make camp and have a swim.

Day 2
I broke camp around 9:30 to go check out the C2 at the tip of the esker. Favorable winds were blowing South. I expected the esker to be a big long pile of gravel, but it was almost indistinguishable from the rest of the forest. The C2 was a nice compact campsite, raised about 15 feet from the lake, and enclosed by trees. The firepit/seating area was cozy and the two tentpads were nice and sheltered. Rocky shoreline. There is a C5 and C4 (with a huge beach) just south of this site, but I was keeping to the North shore and did not visit them.

I was really fortunate this day that the rain that was forecast did not materialize. Skies were cloudy and the wind was strong, but the wind was blowing me Southwest down the lake. This was great fortune because the wind usually comes from the Southwest in this area, and I had expected to be facing a substantial headwind. Instead, I clocked myself going up to 6.5 km/hr with my GPS heading down the middle of Grand Lac Victoria towards the island C2 (77-91). I arrived there at 12:30. This is a nice, open, and airy site that looks like it gets used for shore-lunches. It has a picnic table, and a big white plastic shelf for cleaning fish. Someone also put up a small shelf by the firepit area. Rocky shore on this island.

The winds were still on my side after lunch and I continued Southward to the end of the lake and into a nice sheltered paddle through shallow lakes and marshy/swampy areas. The route passes under a bridge where a map-change I noted shows a C3, but I did not stop to check it out. Saw a heron and an owl along this stream. The first 200 m of the P875 (not P965 as on the map) was a very steep climb up the esker (I had to stop many times), but then it followed a flat clear trail to Lac Graham. There is a log cabin near the put-in. Lac Graham was a nice little paddle, zig-zagging around the esker. The was a short P110 to Lac la Perche, and the put-in was quite swampy; much of this part of the circuit has quite shallow, marshy waters.

I arrived at the C3 (78-03) around 5:15 (47º21’54N, 77º33’32W). It was not a terrible site, but the shoreline was quite limited. It was very short with a restricted view of the bay, and the shore was shallow and mucky, so not the greatest for swimming. I thought about moving on, but the winds were still up, and now blowing against me, and I decided to stay put.

Day 3
I had planned this to be a lay-over day, but I was curious about the C1 (78-07) on Lac la Perche (47º22’03N, 77º31’59W). I tossed all the gear in the boat to make the short hop across the lake, and was very glad that I did. Winds were low in the morning so it was an easy paddle. I picked up some water on the way and it was nice and clear for a change. The C1 has a rocky shore that you climb up, and the firepit sits on the point (which could be a bit exposed on a windy day). Behind that is a little seating area, and just up from that is a tent pad. The rocky bottom was deep, with clear water for swimming, and there was a great open view of the lake. I stayed put for the day to rest up, did some reading, and enjoyed the great weather. The campsite is quite compact and exposed to the South, so there was not a lot of shade in the late afternoon, but the sunset was great.

Day 4
Heading North around 9:00 I saw that a canoe party that had passed the day before had camped on an unmarked site on a small island just South of the “10.5 km” marker on the guide map. I hope they left a light footprint.

There is a C4 on the portage from Lac la Perche to Lac Petegem, but when I passed through it was a well-trampled construction area. SEPAQ is putting up what will be a nice log chalet, and there was lots of logs and garbage lying around. Lines for hanging clothes, and shelves for food were scattered around. The area on both sides of the portage were swampy so I was glad not to have stayed there.

A light tailwind helped me across Lac Petegem. Note that there is a P30 around an old bridge at the left that you can use (rather than the P100 on the right). I slipped and took a fall here and had to sit and patch up my toe. I felt lucky that I fell on my pack rather than the other way around.

The route passes by an island in the middle of Lac Chartier that has an old cabin on it, but it looked to be boarded up. The wind had shifted to blow to the North, and I arrived at the C5 (78-19) with a mild tailwind around 11:30. This C5 would be nice for a large group, with a big cooking area. Tent pads were not always obvious or that level. I was not very impressed with the C2 (78-21) on the nearby point. It had a very exposed fireplace, and the rest of it seemed a bit barren to my eye. There is a C3 (78-24) by a beach on the North end of the lake. I did not stop there but the layout looked great as I paddled by. I think I would make that my destination if I were to do the trip again.

It was only about noon, so I thought I would press on through the Riviere de la Baie for the afternoon. It was a very nice calm paddle to the first set of RIIs. Looking from the bridge I could not see how it would be runable, with large rocks and boulders scattered across the width the river. The portage was an easy 250 m or so. There is a group of 5 small cabins at the start of the portage of various vintage, with one looking quite new.

I lost track of my location on the river as I moved downstream through the eau vive (fast moving water) and RIIs. I think what happened was that the first eau vive after the island was not really noticeable, and it mistook the first RII for the eau vive. There is no marked portage around this RII that I could see. I went through that section without a hitch, but had to place a couple of strokes at the right times. I keep learning that you have to paddle forcefully to move the canoe to where you want it to be, rather than being pushed around by the current.

Shortly afterwards I was looking at the next RII. I thought that this was the one with no portage, and was confused by a portage sign at river right, on what looked to be an unscalable rocky cliff. The map shows a P185 on river left, but I didn’t see the sign for it. It was difficult to scout from the right, and it did not look runable to me, so I back-ferried to river left, lined down that side until I came to a large smooth rock shelf in the middle of the rapids, and carried the gear and canoe to the end of the rock. I hopped back in to run the lower half of the rapids and got through with a bit of luck and a couple of bumps and scrapes. I looked back and saw the sign at the end of the portage on river left. All of a sudden I was at a shelf at the site of an old bridge in ruins. There was a space wide enough for a canoe, and the water level seemed to drop by less than a foot, and I got through without problem.

I thought about checking out the C2 (78-29) on the portage around the shelf but decided to press on. I passed by the rock landmark on Grand Lac Victoria, and arrived around 5:00 at the C5 (77-07) just North of where I stayed the first night (47º31’10N, 77º30’15W). This site is essentially a sandy and grassy beach area with a few disjointed clearings in a very dense wooded area about 4 feet up from the beach. I could find no privy at the site. The fireplace was on the beach and offered a nice view of the lake. Just like the C4 further south, there was a sandy beach, but the water was a bit shallow for swimming and was populated by lily pads. I did not like the site much, and if I had had more energy I might have tried for the island C5 (77-03) closer to the put-in.

I set out for the put-in around 9:30 in the morning of the last day, and was on the road by about 11:00 or so. Saw a small black bear galloping across the road in front of me as I headed out from Camping Barker. I was back in Montreal by about 5:30 after grabbing a shower, gassing-up, and having lunch at Le Domaine.

Contributed by Chappy

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
31 N/5, 31 N/6, 31 N/11, 31 N/12
Other Maps: 
La Verendrye Guide Map #4
Other
Special Comments: 

Comments
It is a 7 km paddle from Camping Barker to the start of the loop, so the 59 km circuit is made up of 14 km linear travel and a 45 km loop. This was a very nice route, with lots of variety. The route has big wide-open lakes, calm little streams, an esker, marshy areas, and a short river section with a couple of substantial rapids. Shores tend to be rocky and there are lots of nice places to stop along the way. La Verendrye Guide Map #4 covers the entire route, and is all that is really needed.

The wind in this area is usually from the Southwest, so the first leg of the trip down Grand Lac Victoria could be challenging, and others have reported being wind-bound in this area on the big lakes. I had planned a leisurely 5-night trip going solo, but the winds were extremely favorable and I was able to do the trip in only 4 nights including a layover day (I traveled about 20 and 23 km on my two other days). In addition to the winds, there is also an RII with no obvious portage around it on the route, so you have to be ready for that.

My trip was in late July, 2007, and I saw only one other canoe on the route. There were also usually a couple of fishing boats around on Grand Lac Victoria and Lac la Perche.

I camped at sites fairly close to the put-in on Grand Lac Victoria on the first and last nights (to give me time for driving in and out). I liked the C4 (77-13) much better than the C5 (77-07), but neither were that great for swimming. If I were to take the circuit again I might try the island C5 (77-03) close to the put-in on either the first or last night. I might also use the C4 (77-13) again on the first night, or see if I had the time to get to one of the sites near the esker on the first day. The island C2 (77-91) could be a good destination for the second day. If you stay on Lac la Perche I would try for the C1 (78-07) on the east side. If you stay on Lac Chartier I would try for the C3 (78-24) on the North shore which looked great from a distance.