Ranger Lake Loop

CanadaOntarioNorth Channel
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Additional Route Information
104 km
9 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
8605 m
Longest Portage: 
945 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Route Summary:
Ranger, Saymo, Gong Lakes, West Aubinadong River, Megisan, Prairie Grass Lakes and Nushatogaini River loop and return

The starting point of this route is from the campgrounds on the south end of Ranger Lake. This route can also be started from Saymo or Gong Lake as there is road access to these lakes.

Paddle to the north end of Ranger Lake and portage 80 metres around a dam to Saymo Lake; from the north end of Saymo Lake portage through a short trail of 18 metres to a fork on the road. At this point, there is a sign on the road, one road to Ragged Lake, the other to Gong Lake. Keep to your right and follow the Gong Lake Road for 805 metres, reaching another road on your right. You then follow this road for 27 metres reaching a short trail on your right hand side. Follow this trail for approximately 91 metres, coming out at the south end of Island Lake.

>From the northwest bay of Island Lake, portage 402 metres to South Anvil Lake. From this point on you will encounter a series of marshes and dense forest areas. From the north end of South Anvil Lake you portage approximately 91 metres to the southern shore of Gong Lake. Heading northerly proceed along the east shore of this lake and portage 483 metres to Gong Creek.
>From Gong Creek proceed north-easterly approximately 805 metres, entering the west Aubinadong River. Then following the winding course of the Aubinadong, paddle upstream for approximately 13 km to Torrance Lake. Throughout this 13 km stretch you encounter nine portages where the river is narrow and shallow.

>From here, you travel to the north end of Torrance Lake where you encounter a short portage of approximately 114 metres to the south end of Megisan Lake. You travel approximately 2.5 km up Megisan Lake to the east bay and from here you travel a distance of 604 metres to Clove Lake.

>From the northeast end of Clove Lake portage 945 metres to a small inland lake before encountering your next portage to Prairie Grass Lake.

>From the east end of this unknown lake, portage easterly a distance of approximately 846 metres to Prairie Grass Lake. From here, you travel to the south end of Prairie Grass Lake where you encounter two portages, one of 60 metres and another of 302 metres coming out at the top end of Nushatogaini River. Travelling south-westerly for 19 km down to Nushatogaini River you encounter nine portages to the junction with the west Aubinadong River. Proceed south-westerly approximately 402 metres below this junction and enter Gong Creek.

Then follow the reverse course of Ranger Lake to Gong Lake, returning to your starting point

Don McGorman

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 J/13 41 O/4 41 O/3 41 O/5 41 O/6
Special Comments: 

Campsites are available along the route.

There is good fishing along the route with both brook and lake trout being available


Post date: Sat, 09/25/2010 - 20:19


We were drier standing in the river than on land. . . it was raining that much.
The country is fantastic.
The trip was a good one experience!

Post date: Mon, 09/20/2010 - 00:19


Paddled this route September 9th to 15th 2010. We did the abbreviated trip by putting in on Gong Lake. Accessiable on the Domtar road. This trip was a very doable six day trip. The route has not been maintained. To us it looked like its been four to five years prior that anyone had used some of the campsites and portages. One of the best things we brought on this trip was a Gerber brush cutter. It came in real handy for clearing the overgrown campsites we encountered as well as for use along the portages and river landings. Both rivers have numerous beaver dams and log jams. Having a saw handy to cut through the odd log blocking the river would have been useful. Both rivers are exceedingly pretty. The Nushatogaini was particularly, as its narrower and more scenic. It was also the most difficult to navigate, given the numerous beaver dams and log jams. These weren't log jams made up of just one our two logs, these were jams where you took your packs out of the canoe , hauled the canoe up over a dozen logs, repacked the canoe , paddled fifeteen feet and did it all over again. Someone with a chain saw, could make this route a lot easier to manage. All things said and done, for an experienced canoeist, this is a trip well worth taking. Lots of wildlife (moose/beavers)beautiful lakes, magnificant towering white pines, great fishing (mind you we didn't have time to do alot)and very scenic rivers. Do it.
Note: water levels were adaquate. Lot of wading and linning of canoes down the Nushatogaini.
Day one: Put in at Gong Lake. Travel from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. Cleared an over grown campsite on the West Aubinadong just before it narrows. Campsite on the right hand side of the river as you travel upstream.
Day 2: Paddled from 10:30 to 4:30. Sunny day Camped on Torrance Lake.
Day 3: Paddled from 10:00 to 2:00 pm. Threaten rain all day. Found the portage out of Torrance to be on the right hand side. The portage out of Megisan was hard to find. The shoreline was over grown with brush. No obvious markers. The 900 meter prtgage out of Clove Lake is an uphill climb for the first half. Camped on an island site on Prairie Grass lake.
Day 4; Travelled from 10:30 to 4:30. A day of sun rain sun rain. All river travel. The river starts out well. There is lots of wading and lining of canoes as you progress farther downstream. Saw a huge bull moose with the largest rack yet seen. Camped on the right hand side of the river before it narrows on the map. The campsite was an old hunting outpost up on the bank looking down the river.
Day 5: Hardest day yet. Traveled from 10:00 to 6:30 pm. Wading, lining, lift overs was the order of the day. It was still a fun day. The weather was once again wild. Rain, sun, rain, sun. Had trouble finding a campsite. Once again had to clear a old site. This site was located on the point, created by the confluence of the two rivers.
Day 6: rain , sun,rain, sun. Traveled from 10:30 to 2:30. Put a hole in our cedar strip on a rock. Once patched, did the portages and paddled to the car. Would have stayed a night on Gong Lake, but it was raining. Instead spent the night in Carolyn's Motel in Thesselon.
You can get showers at the Aubrey Falls Trading Post on #129.

Post date: Fri, 03/19/2010 - 08:57


Read with interest as I had done this trip in 1963 but continued down the Aubinidong to where 556 now crosses we gportaged to Strawberry Lake then to Ranger. I continue to go to Gong and South on the Aubinidong to the Falls. A in and out one day trip today from Gong. Portages are some what open and marked with orange ribbons. Trip is a seven hour experience. 6 going down, 7 coming back (we shoot the 4 rapids on the river). We are still working on that portage clearing down logs.

Falls are spectacula and can be swam in at the bottom.

Campsite at top.


Post date: Sat, 06/06/2009 - 11:11


I took this trip back in June of 1967 and August 1968 as a teenager with the YMCA Outposters. I can say I enjoyed the August trip more as the bugs were gone. I remember that this trip was not for the faint hearted.We spent 2 weeks getting in shape for the trip.Back then there was more interest in canoeing so more people made this trip. The portages were easy to find. The camp sites were cleaned up ( you didn't have to make your own). It still wasn't easy but from what I read it's a lot tougher today. Even to this date I have never experienced better trout fishing. Back then (and I hope today)the Pike and Walleye had not invaded this corner of Ontario. What is needed to make this trip is experience and good physical condition.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


I completed this route, solo, in mid August of 2004. I decided on an August trip here for several reasons. Reasonably warm weather, past the peak of bug season, and water temperatures. You will be wading in water quite often.

There is one piece of equipment that I feel I must recommend, and that is a pair of good water shoes – not open toed sandals. I used a pair of Keen closed toed water shoes that were worth their weight in gold.

I would like to prefice my log by stating that this is not a novice route. Your map reading skills, camping and canoeing techniques, and in some cases your tracking skills, all should be above average, or intermediate as some would say.

You will find that as you read this description of the Ranger Lake Loop, I do not go into great detail as to length or location of portages. The exception here is when I experienced something different from what is outlined in the over descriptions of this route contained on this website or that which Kevin Callan’s book Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes describes.

I will however try to put some perspective to what you can expect in terms of terrain, lake and river conditions, along with some traveling times that I encountered and the weather conditions under which they occurred. I would expect that you would take this person’s account, along with other resources into consideration before undertaking this canoe trip

There is public parking across the road from the public dock where Air Dale Flight services has their plane

Day 1 – Ranger Lake to Saymo Lake portage – 2 hrs with 10k breeze at my back and a light rain. I portaged from the grassy slope to the left of the dock – 240m along trial to Saymo Lake. Paddled through Saymo under heavy rain - 2 ¼ hrs with 10k breeze at my back. The portage into Island Lake is 2.3k in length. Although it is along a road and cart track it was brutal with full provisions for the trip. I did not find the trail that leads to the south end of Island Lake as mentioned in the previous route description. The cart trail I followed leads to the west side of Island Lake. This started as a one carry but ended up two. The rain did subside for this portage. Stayed on an island on Island Lake – 308629E / 5212709N. The rain held off long enough to set camp at 3:30pm – but did have to cook under the tarp, a common occurrence during this trip. Saymo to camp – 2 ¾ hrs.

Day 2 – The portage into Mystery Lake is a tough one. It follows a dry creek bed, is quite rocky and over grown with several downed trees to content with. It’s the only portage where I have had to turn my canoe on its side to fit between trees. Definitely a two carry portage. Although I did not stay at the camp on Mystery Lake, I wish I had, it looked very interesting – 307830E / 5214558N. One carry into Gong from Mystery along an easy trail. Travel time from camp to Gong – 2 ½ hrs. A good 10 – 15k breeze at my back all the way trough Gong under sunny skies. The next two portages are easy one carry walks along easy trails, although the second has a slight incline and decline at beginning and end. The first and second beaver dam precedes and follows the second portage, along with a shallow section that will have to be waded just past the hydro line. If you have problems with these dams or the shallow section, turn back now; there are many more challenges like this. Travel time from portage onto Gong to the confluence of the West Aubinadong and Nushatogaini, where I camped, 3 hrs – 312184E / 5219809N

Day 3 – There is lots to deal with along the winding course of the West Aubinadong. 8 beaver dams, 3 log jams, and 6 portages. This number of portages varies somewhat from other accounts of this section of the river. The only explanation I can offer is that there were several sections that I lined the canoe upstream. There are also numerous spots where it is necessary to wade / drag the canoe through shallow sections. After 11 hrs I made camp on Torrance Lake – 309646E / 5232304N (approximate)

Day 4 – After lining the canoe into Megisan Lake and a short paddle it was time to succumb to the wind – a quick day at 2 ½ hrs. I had a nice camp, completely sheltered from a continuous 40k wind – 310161E / 5234815N. The lodge owner was in the process of bear baiting several locations around Megisan – thankfully not in the area where I was forced to camp.

Day 5 – A nice calm paddle across Megisan to the first portage of the day. An easy one carry pass that a blind man could follow, what with all the orange surveyors ribbon hanging from trees every 30m. The portage from Clove to the unnamed lake was very difficult to follow. I had to two carry this one, just so I could see where the trail was. I had to really pay attention as the trial was very overgrown, and I actually went off the trail several times. Spectacular old growth pine and cedar throughout the bush in this area. The portage into Prairie Grass is also very easy and was completed in one pass. Travel time from my camp to Prairie Grass was 4 hrs. A short paddle down the Nushatogaini, lining one rapids and portaging one rapids put me into my camp for the night – 318724E / 5233653N (approximate, located at the rapids). I shared this camp with the only other canoers I saw throughout my entire trip, Glen and Rick. Travel time from entrance to Prairie Grass to camp was 3 ½ hrs.

Day 6 – More rain, very heavy at times. This section of the Nushatogaini provided lots of opportunities to hone my lining skills. There were three sections, one as long as a half kilometer, to contend with. There is also 10 – 12 beaver dams and several wade / drag the canoe sections. All this in the pouring rain. Finally had to make camp after only 4 hrs on the river – 318315E / 5227324N

Day 7 – More beaver dams, 10 – 12 more. 15 log jams. Some are single logs, but many are 10 – 15 ft of tangled messes where the canoe had to be dragged up and over. Several, the canoe had to be dragged under logs and than over logs - quite challenging. Only one log jam did I have to portage around – try not to step in the bear scat here. One short section of river had to be lined. Reached the confluence of the West Aubinadong and Nushatogaini in 7 ½ hrs. All in all a very nice river to paddle. Very scenic and peaceful. Paddled back to Gong Lake, doing both portages on the Gong Creek in one pass, in 2 ½ hrs – set camp at 6:30 - 307243E / 5216043N.

Day 8 – Retraced my route back to Saymo paddling into a strong 10 – 15k headwind the entire time. After paddling 4 hrs I had to make camp for the day – the wind wins again - 308312E / 5208924N. Spent the day drying gear. Everything was in good shape fro my return home, only to be awakened in the night to more rain.

Day 9 – It blew all night and began to rain again as I broke camp at 7:00 am. A very difficult paddle across Saymo with 12 – 18 inch waves - not quite white caps, but close – and a steady downpour. Reached the south end of Saymo in 2 ¾ hrs. Same conditions for the paddle across Ranger Lake. Finally reached the dock after paddling hard for another 4 ¼ hrs. The entire paddle today was into 10 – 15k headwind and very choppy waters.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


I took this trip in 1986 and it was awsome. However because of the low rain that year some of the outlets were very... Muddy. Plus the Gong lake portage will happen on the second day so you are fully packed up for the week so it took 2 trips. So this portage can take a very long time. Basically 1 1/2 miles long with a weeks worth of food and stuff.