South of 60

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Burt James
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
0 km
10 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
2300 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

This trip was completed in late July, ending on the long weekend in August. Just my girlfriend and I, and she had never been camping for longer than 3 days.
Started and finished the loop from the launch in Whitney. All-in-all a good trip with respect to seclusion, until we got close to the long weekend and closer to Highway 60. 7 days of travel and 3 days of rest.
Algonquin south of 60 seems to be dominated by maples, oaks and birch trees. A nice break from the usual topography seen in the ultra-busy Western sections, combined with nice weather and a complete lack of other people on most days made this trip one to remember.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1: Arrived in Whitney around 9 am. Paddled quickly through Galeairy Lake and handled the two portages (90 m, 1700 m) to Pen Lake quite well despite the packs being full to the brim. Camped on a nice site towards the south end of Pen Lake, although site was a little abused due to high traffic. A nice day, sunny and warm.

Day 2: Woke early, healthy breakfast, started the trek around 10 am. 2 more portages to Welcome Lake (300 m, 2200 m), the second of which was a little trying as the muscles were not yet accustomed to the rigours of camping. Paddled through Welcome Lake to Harry Lake in a brief-but-torrential downpour, camped on a small but beautiful site perfect for 2 people. Had a great dinner, some good fishing (brook trout) and retired with sore muscles and a big smile.

Day 3: Day of rest. Woke up and felt justified in booking this day off. Muscles and joints were very sore ... a lazy day of fishing and reducing the weight of the food pack. Overcast and a little cool all day. Retired early knowing the next day would be difficult.

Day 4: Harry Lake to Lake Louisa. Only 2 portages (500 m, 1700 m) but the haul into Louisa is treacherous at the end, especially in wet conditions (which we had). A very windy day, which made the paddle on Louisa very difficult. Had to tack nearly the whole way across the main bay, but then got to surf on 2-3 foot waves right to the big island campsite. Whoever built this site is a genius, but it is so overused there is practically no decent wood left on the entire island. A little trouble with raccoons that night.

Day 5: Lake Louisa to Head Lake. The trip gets more difficult as it goes along. A total of 5 portages, the longest being just over 1 km. One portage is a nightmare, steep up and steep down (Rod and Gun to Lawrence I think). Arrived at Head Lake after about 7 hours of travelling, tired and sore but very happy. Some good fishing on Head Lake, lots of bass to be had. The waterfall site was taken so we camped on the other side of the lake.

Day 6: The site we stayed on was on the big loop of the Highlands backpacking trail, which we hiked. Approximately 24 km, takes you through just about everything Algonquin has to offer, except for the enormous white pine stands of the Eastern side. About a 6 hour hike, and I think I killed at least 100 deer flies over the day.

Day 7: Head Lake to Whitefish Lake. The hardest day of the trip. We rose very early to get a good start on the day. Many portages (I can't remember how many), but no carries longer than 300 m. The trek down Head Creek/Madawaska River is very nice, we didn't see a single soul until we got close to Lake of Two Rivers. Many liftovers and obstacles to navigate, although there wasn't much current. Without the dams this would be impassable, as beavers keep the water levels up for much of the creek. Zipped through Lake of Two River, Pog Lake and into Whitefish. Camped at a lovely site after a very, very long day, and retired happily knowing the next day was rest. Sunny and warm all day.

Day 8: A super day of rest and relaxation. Hiked a portion of the Centennial Ridges trail for lunch atop a high cliff overlooking Whitefish. Returned to the campsite and had my first seriously big fire of the trip, which was soothing in its own right.

Day 9: Whitefish to Galeairy. A long day of paddling with a short portage. Through Whitefish and Rock Lakes in some blazing sun with a light wind, mostly at our backs. Paddling by this point was nearly effortless and we made excellent time. Conquered about 1/2 of Galeairy before calling it quits for the day, got in some good fishing and caught a couple of small bass. A sad final fire as my girlfriend and I had really gotten accustomed to life in the park.

Day 10: Galeairy out to Whitney. Lots of tailwind, but this brought with it some driving rain to finish our trip off. A fresh change of clothes and some junk food (mmmm salty and sugary goodness) lifted the spirits. A long drive back to Ottawa but many good memories to re-live.

Special Comments: 

There is no difficult river paddling on this trip, although the long haul down Head Creek/Madawaska river is a very long day with many liftovers and portages. Lake travel was challenging as we ended up on some big lakes in high winds and heavy rains. A very rewarding trip in the end.