Makobe Lake to Elissa Lake/North Lady Evelyn River

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
10 km
2 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
2890 m
Longest Portage: 
700 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Makobe Lake to Elissa Lake/North Lady Evelyn River

Where the map, MNR map, Temagami Canoe Routes, and the 2004 edition of Canoeing, Kayaking, and Hiking Temagami, give different lengths for the portage trails the map’s distance is shown first and the book’s follows in (). The series of lakes between Makobe and Elissa are not named on the maps and are identified by sequential number in the description below.

The first portage trail leaves from the end of a small bay at the southwest corner of the south bay of Makobe Lake. The 220 m (205 m) trail is generally easy and leads to small, unnamed lake #1.

Directly across this pond is the second portage trail, 80 m to unnamed lake #2, an attractive, L-shaped lake with one campsite marked on the map. Tucked away at the end of a bay northeast from the point where the portage trail enters the lake, the campsite is not readily evident but is marked with a campsite sign. It is small and has not seen use in recent years.

At the north end of this lake a 460 m portage trail leads to small, unnamed lake #3. On the east side of this lake is a nice campsite which has room for several tents.

The 80 m portage out of this lake is a delightful walk through an open forest to unnamed lake #4. The paddle down this lake is brief and the portage trail begins at the point where the outlet stream leaves the lake. The sign is hard to spot until you are nearly there. This 700 m (675 m) trail is the longest portage on this route. There are several small hills and a boggy section in the middle.

The next lake, #5, is directly south of Trethewey Lake, and there is a 320 m (305 m) portage to the north into Trethewey. A small campsite is located on a point nearly across from the Trethewey portage and is a good place to break this trip into two days.

The 260 m (250 m) portage out of #5 is an easy, nearly level and attractive trail which leads to lake #6, actually an annoying pond since the paddle is less than 50 m to the next trail, an easy 100 m (95 m). This trail leads to a small lake, #6. After paddling a couple of minutes on this pond the portage trail is found at the outlet stream. On the topographic map a contour line ominously crosses this portage, and while this 180 m (175 m) trail is generally level, near the end there is a steep descent with ball bearing-like gravel on the trail. Near the landing the stream cascades into the next lake, #7.

Unnamed lake #7 is very short, and turns into a stream before the next portage. This 120 m (115 m) trail was the only trail on this route where we did not see a portage sign. The trail is located on the right side just above a jam of logs and trees in the stream.

The final small, unnamed lake on this route, #8, is shallow and has lots of beaver activity. The 140 m (135 m) portage trail begins below a beaver dam to the right of the outlet stream.

This portage trail leads to a rocky, fast running section of stream. At first it seemed that we would have an exciting, fast run to Elissa Lake, but the stream soon emerged from the forest into a marshland where it began to wind in endless horseshoe bends, pointing in all directions of the compass. Do not underestimate the amount of time this section of the route will take. While the map showed this portion of our route to be about 2.5 km the stream must travel at least 6 km because of the many turns and twists. Maneuvering the boat was complicated by the narrowness of the stream - less than one canoe length in width. There was enough volume and current in this section to float our canoe, however through many of the sharp turns and shallows it was more practical to wade with the canoe rather than to try and maneuver it. We were fortunate in that we only had to make one unexpected portage due to a downed tree. Having to face numerous trees across the stream could cause significant delays.

Once the winding stream section of this route has been reached there is one more portage shown on the canoe route map and in the guide book. It is marked as a 210 m (205 m), and takes you around a log jam and a small rapid. The portage trail passes over open country crossed by animal trails, and it would be possible to take a wrong turn if not paying attention. The trail is level and very easy, and it seemed quite a bit shorter, maybe only 100 m. Both the map and guidebook indicate a campsite on this portage trail, but we missed it. However because the land is level and open with few trees camp could be made in many places.

Below the portage the stream continues toward Elissa Lake at a fast pace. A few hundred meters above the lake the stream passes underneath the Gamble Lake Road through pipes which should be portaged. It appeared needlessly dangerous to try to run the canoe through one of the pipes, and there is no easy loading place in the swirling eddy at the downstream end of the pipes. Land on the right side just above the pipes and carry your canoe and packs up to the road. Cross over the pipes to the left side of the stream and look for a sloping gravel path which returns to the stream in calmer water below the pipes, a 20 m portage. It appears that ATV's have used this road recently, but there were no signs of larger vehicles. An emergency campsite could be made on the little used road at this point or, to avoid any traffic that may come along, camp a few meters south (left) where the road to Gamble Lake forks from the gravel road.

After reloading from the road crossing it is just a short distance to Elissa Lake, whose open waters will seem a relief after the confines of the winding stream.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 P/7 (Lady Evelyn Lake) 41 P/8 (Smoothwater Lake)<br />
Other Maps: 
Temagami Canoe Routes planning map;<br /> Ministry of Natural Resources
Special Comments: 

This route description is an expansion on Route 20, “Makobe Lake, Trethewey Lake Links”, on page 116 in Canoeing, Kayaking, and Hiking Temagami (Hap Wilson, 2004), and is a summary of our experiences on this route in July, 2005.

This route is useful for creating a link between the North Lady Evelyn River and the Makobe/Banks Lake area and, when combined with the Grays River, will make an good loop trip. Part of this route can be used in conjunction with the route which enters/leaves Trethewey Lake from the north.

Between Makobe and Elissa Lakes the route consists of standard portaging interspersed with small lake padding, and at the west end there is a substantial stretch of winding stream to negotiate. Because the stream drains into the North Lady Evelyn River watershed it is best to take this route from east to west. The stream has quite a bit of current, and we were able to paddle much of the way, however less water would mean more wading. Ascending this stream from Elissa Lake would be difficult and involve many km of wading.

Trails were generally in good shape and we had to clear only two minor blow downs. It appeared that the trails on this route had been maintained in 2004. Few parties had preceded us on this route in 2005. Moose are the primary users of these portages, and tracks were apparent on nearly every trail. Because the route sees little use there were not the dual identifiers of portage landings - the small sign and the beaten down area marking the trail, but with only one exception we found all portage trails on this route marked with the standard portage sign at both ends. Had there not been portage trail signs we would have spent much more time looking for each trail as some were no more obvious than moose or beaver paths that head into the bush, and we found ourselves wishing that the signs were larger and easier to spot.

The stream section of this route is affected by the level of water. Local people had not described the spring and early summer of 2005 as having been especially dry, though some people mentioned that the lakes were low. The weather in this area had been recently hot and dry, and a fire ban was placed in effect while we were out. The stream on this route held enough water for us to complete the route in mid July. Spring or early summer water levels would make the trip easier.