Pukaskwa River - Hwy 17 to Lake Superior

CanadaOntarioLake Superior basin
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Additional Route Information
122 km
9 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
16119 m
Longest Portage: 
2530 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Access at White River between Wawa and Marathon
West on White River to Sagina Lake
West on White River to Pokei Lake
South through Pokei Lake
Pokei Creek, including portages of
P 540 m L
P 130 m L
P 675 m L
P 151 m R
P 110 m R
P 131 m L
P 230 m R
P 200 m L
P 320 m R
P 130 m R
P 200 m R
P 400 m R
Note : many (most?) of these portages have been obscured by blowdowns, windfalls and beaver cuttings - essentially the creek is one long portage - find the easiest route as you go
P 445 m to Gibson Lake
South through Gibson Lake
South through Jarvey Lake into creek
P 124 m L in high water or CBR/Line in moderate or low water
P 45 m R or CBR
Southwest through Beaver Lake
Into Pukaskwa River
P 1210 m R (no eddies in high water - caution!)
P 200 m at narrows
P 220 m R
P 140 m R
P 250 m R (or CBR high water / low water run to beaver pond, lift over dam, run or line rapids below)
P 41 m R or CBR
P 67 m R or CBR
P 245 m R or CBR
P 167 m R or CBR
P 830 m L or CBR in moderate or low water
P 1600 m L
P 237 m L or CBR
P 311 m L or CBR (dangerous in high water)
Cross boundary into Pukaskwa National Park
Two sets of unmarked rapids when water is high - scout and run
Rapids both sides of island - scout and run left channel
Small rapids - CBR
Small rapid - run left side
P 170 m around Lafleur`s Dam
Small rapid - scout and run
P 500 m L around falls
P 100 m R around falls (rapid to run just before - caution!)
P 15 m L around falls (old dam)
Rapid - run right (caution - dangerous in high water)
P 30 m centre of island (gorge and falls - caution!)
P 403 m L around rapid (dangerous in high water)
P 365 m R (not runnable)
P 500 m R in high water (can be shortened to P 200 m R in low water)
P 250 m R
P 250 m R (landing has difficult left ferry)
P 2530 m around Ringham`s Gorge
Section of swift water and rapids (runnable)
P 100 m R in high water (can be shortened to P 15 m R in low water)
Section of continuous fast water
P 457 m R around falls
Section of fast water
Gorge - dangerous in high water (stay right ... large standing waves on left - possible portages / lining in this section)
P 1100 m L around Schist Falls
South to Lake Superior
Pickup by power boat to Hattie Cover or Michipicoten Harbour

Special Comments: 

The section from Highway 17 down to Gibson Lake can be a bit of a grind - in particular, Pokei creek is a full day of liftovers and portages.
In times of normal runoff, the Pukaskwa can be paddled from early May to mid-June. After that time, water levels make the trip a hike, not a paddle. However, runoffs are not always normal and local weather patterns can extend or reduce this window dramatically. Water levels are not monitored, so there is no way of knowing. Because the Pukaskwa runs through a bedrock channel with no soil mass to buffer rainfall, it is very sensitive to precipitation - a rainstorm can change the nature of the river overnight. By late May, most (but not all) of the rapids on the route are class 1 or 2.

This river demands scouting and whitewater paddling skills - definitely not for novices.