North Rouge Lake

CanadaOntarioAlgonquin
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
PedlPadl
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
2 km
Duration: 
2 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
1
Total Portage Distance: 
1895 m
Longest Portage: 
1895 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Novice
Lake Travel: 
Novice
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

North Rouge Lake is on the East side of Algonquin Park. It is not part of any other routes, just an in-and-out trip. So how hard could that be? Just take the Park map, follow the brown and yellow signs, drive to the end of the road, portage and paddle, right? First problem; the map is wrong. Second problem; there are no signs. Third problem; the road is not maintained and no road vehicle can get within 3.5 km of the portage.

The Canoe Routes of Algonquin Park map shows a road about 600m before the Bissett Creek Road Gate (access point 24) heading east past the south side of Grant’s L and then turning south to the portage. There is no such road. To add confusion there is a badly overgrown road 20m from the gate heading east but it dead-ends at a beaver pond. The road actually starts about 1700m before the gate and is marked with signs such as “Renfrew St”, “Egg Head”, “Thunder Mountain” depending on whose hunt camp is there and what signs have fallen down. The first bit is good because logging operations in the area have built up the roads. It quickly becomes narrow and bumpy.

About 5 km in, Lafrenieres Lake is held about 1.5m above the side of the road by an impressive beaver dam below which the stream crosses the road which has been shored up with rocks, planks and beaver sticks but is impossible to cross in any normal car. Even a 4WD Jeep or some such thing would be risky if the banks collapsed. I left my minivan there and proceeded on mountain bike. Just beyond that point there are massive washouts which have left canyons of jagged rocks down the middle of the road for a few hundred metres. There seemed to be ATV tracks but it would be quite dangerous even for those.

After passing a metal hunting lodge the road eventually comes to a 4-way intersection which I will refer to as The Crossroads. It is most clearly shown on the CLAIMap [4].

Standing at The Crossroads, the road branching N goes to Puffball Lake. The W branch leads back to Lafrenieres Lake and the Bissett Creek Road, The E branch goes over a hill and gradually turns south passing a large hunting camp where the road deteriorates into a muddy ATV track that finally arrives at Chateau Lake. The south branch crosses Grant’s Creek (or rather the creek crosses the road) and becomes steadily overgrown as it continues past the west end of Chateau Lake where a swathe of trees has been flattened by a microburst, completely blocking the road. Some intrepid fishermen have managed to plough with ATVs and chainsaw around and through the downed trees but the road is under water and at least a foot of mud in a bog. At this point I abandoned my bike and went on foot.

About 300m farther is the park line. It is marked only by an orange tag nailed to a tree, no signs of any kind. I found what looked like the remnants of a trail heading toward Chateau L just outside the park line but I could not follow it more than 30m into the bush. A portage is shown on some maps but when I contacted the Park, they told me that there had never been such a portage. The North Rouge portage (1895m) is not too bad but the ATVs have continued down it all the way to North Rouge L. The lake is beautiful with a sandy strip of beach, some rock outcrops and a nice campsite among the pine trees. The end of the portage was littered with garbage, beer bottles and pop cans.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
[1] Canoe Routes of Algonquin Park Map. [3] Backroads Mapbook Algonquin Region, Mussio Ventures Ltd. [4] CLAIMaps, Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mining.
Other
Special Comments: 

In conclusion, the lake would be worth a visit except that it is not really an Algonquin Park kind of place any more, with ATVs driving in. Apparently the Park is struggling to find the resources to maintain some of these less used routes. If you don’t have an ATV, you would have to portage about 10 km and a wheel cart probably wouldn’t survive. Even with an ATV there are half-fallen trees that the rider would have to duck under so you couldn’t carry a canoe on a rack either; maybe a small trailer? I contacted the Park and they are looking into the route and updating the map so there may be some news in 2009. There is also some logging in the area so it’s possible the roads will get fixed.

Comments

Post date: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 21:09

Comments: 

June 2010: checked out the road again and it's just as bad. The 2009-10 edition of the Canoe Routes of Algonquin Provincial Park map still shows the non-existent road and not the actual one. Contacted the Park again and was informed they will not be issuing permits for N. Rouge L any more. They are considering an alternate access route and logging is planned outside that side of the Park over the next few years which may open up the roads.

Post date: Sat, 03/27/2010 - 19:38

Comments: 

I found the same thing when I tried to access North Rouge in 97. I wrote the Park and got the same basic answers. The map is very misleading and quite frankly a hazard to trippers expecting differently.

Post date: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 11:15

Comments: 

Update: as of 2009 July, the roads have gotten worse, not better. The Friends of Algonquin inform me that the map published for this year is still the 2007-8 version (mine has a note on the front that says "Updated annually"--guess not). The local outfitter only carries the Backroads Map version which is also a year or two old. Park personnel told me that they are looking at rerouting the access or just taking it off the map, which would be a shame.