Temagami River

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

See Hap Wilson's/ Kevin Callen's descriptions.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Temagami River

September 2, 2006

My paddling partner Dave and I began our drive to Temagami early in the morning from Peterborough. We arrived in Temagami shortly after lunch and we met with John Kilbridge of the Temagami Canoe Company. John provided our shuttle; he dropped us off at the central Lake Temagami Access point and then dropped our car off in River Valley on the fifth day. Both Dave and I agreed that John is one of the nicest people anyone could meet. We shot the breeze for sometime before we took off.

We had planned five to six days to complete the 64 kilometers to River Valley, so we had lots of time. With this in mind we decided to hike up to the High Rock Island view point. This is definitely worth the half hour or forty-five minutes it takes to complete this hike. We continued along into Portage Bay and found a nice open site to pitch camp and start working on the three and a half cases of beer we had rationed ourselves for the trip. A note on food here in the last couple of years we have started to bring a lot of prepackaged freeze dried hiker’s meals. These meals are relatively cheap, are easy to prepare, taste good, light on the portage, clean and simple. They would also be excellent as an emergency meal. Or if your like us and would rather enjoy a few brews then wrestle with dinner they are perfect.

September 3

We woke to a cloudy, off and on again showers, cool day. This was the lingering effects of hurricane Ernesto. It wasn’t too bad, but my little hound dog Blue had to spend most of the time curled up under a tarp to keep warm and dry. We paddled/ sailed most of the day to a campsite just before Cross Lake Dam. For fisherman the best fishing on the trip for us was in Portage Bay on Lake Temagami. If you look on the map this is about the halfway point of the trip. This site gave us a chance to finish up as much beer as possible before we had to hit the rapids/portages.

September 4

We woke up to a relatively nice day. I was excited to see what the rapids had to offer and we packed up camp after bacon and eggs and headed out. We portaged to the base of the dam and were happy to find a relatively good amount of water flowing through. Note that at the dam about 75 meters along the portage was a small cabin which would do nicely if you were caught in a storm. The put in here is pretty steep, but not to bad and the class one was pretty easy with a tongue to ride out into the pool below. Next was Keel Hauler. Dave and I have been in the habit of running Class II/ III rapids fully loaded, but since we had lots of time we decided to portage the two biggest packs across and scout the rapids. We ran this one with out to much trouble. In higher water levels it looked like all of the rocks would disappear. As it was if you did hit a rock there was usually enough water to slide the canoe over. Short and Sweet was that and we had no problems. It was on to Heron’s Leg. We cautiously paddled the top fully loaded and landed at a poor take out just above the ledge. From here we once again portage two packs down to the end and scouted the ledge and rapid. The rapids below the ledge were easily runnable, but the ledge, as described by Hap Wilson, has a nasty rock pointing upstream just waiting to catch the canoe. As it was I ran the ledge solo, missed the nasty rock and only bumped a couple of rocks on the way down. The rest of the rapid was no problem. We ran the rest of the rapids out to Red Cedar Lake with no problems.

We ended up camping at a site near the end of Island/Thistle Lake. It was a nice site, away in a quiet bay.

September 5

This day started with Thistle Chutes. For some reason I can’t remember this rapid, but I’m pretty sure we went down the right side making use of the small portage. Triple play was an easy run; both B and C were unrunable. Next up was Island Falls, when we looked at the map the top looked runable and scouting from the boat the first set of rapids into the pool above the main falls looked runnable. We proceeded cautiously down the first section when we saw that the last portion of the rapid ended in a large ledge, we quickly rammed on the brakes and eddied out. What we found was a two to one and half meter ledge, which I ran solo into the pool below. From here we portaged along the right bank to above curtain falls. The put in here in a four to five meter drop and took some maneuvering to get back in the water. We paddled across the top of curtain falls to a small island. Care should be taken when paddling above curtain falls and in high water I would suggest that the portage is the way to go. We sat and had lunch on this small island. This small island would be a great campsite if you didn’t plan on having a fire, you were in a pinch for time, your group was small or you wanted that unique campsite.

Onward to Canyon Rapids, which is similar to Island Falls and for that matter Heron’s Leg. Here we decided that the ledge was a bit to hairy to run and we lifted around it and ran the rapids below with no problem. Next was Ragged Chutes getting around these wasn’t too difficult, in higher water this could be fairly dangerous. At the top of the second Chute Dave found a soaked tent and a Nalgene bottle caught on some rocks. The Tent turned out to be a fairly new four man tent which is currently drying out in my garage. If this is yours let me know and I will gladly return it – dry of course. At the bottom of Ragged Chutes on river right is a campsite that isn’t marked on Hap’s map or Kevin Callen’s map. We checked it out and quickly decided to stay here as it was the nicest site we had seen on the whole river. It came complete with the some level tent sites, benches, a fairly good swimming area and a great view of the Ragged Chutes.

We sat under the stars that night with a fire and finished are last couple of beers and even got into the emergency booze supply. About an hour before we turned in we started seeing flashes in the sky which at first looked like the northern lights. As the sky grew dark and the flashes got closer a crazy lightning storm approached us. As it was it passed mostly to the north and I didn’t have any trouble sleeping – could have been the Vodka.

September 6

When we awoke it was overcast and cold. We quickly packed up camp and headed out to Double Bend, which is a tricky ledge at this water level. We portaged the heavy loads and scouted the drop. It didn’t look to bad and we ended up running it without any problems. Next up was Railroader. We beached at the top and then scouted the rapid from the left bank. Both of us couldn’t believe that there was no portage around this one. I’ve seen portages around swifts. Also lining on the left seemed like a lot of effort. At this water level portaging down the left might be the best option for those who don’t want to run it. From the top it looked fairly straight forward a couple of small chute and then ferry over to the right. We started out great and then got a little over to the right on the third small ledge and had to do a little bump and grind, but the rest of the way down the right was no problem, just standing waves.

Next was Valley Chutes which has a fairly easy portage except for the extremely slippery clay path at the start of the portage. The bottom of Valley Chutes was easily run down the left side. Note that there is a fairly good campsite at the bottom of Valley Chutes on the left side, but there is road access to the site and it may be taken during the busy season.

From here down to the take out is a relaxing ride. We had current all the way past the last swifts marked the maps to Bridge Rapids. Note that if you arrange to have your car dropped off here it may be further up the gravel road to the north then you think. We sat around for fifteen minutes of so before we decided to walk further up the road where our car was nicely tucked away out of view and harms way.

A few notes, it would have been nice to have topo maps of the larger lakes. Not that we got lost, but it would have made navigation that much easier. We relied solely on Hap’s map and Kevin’s map, while Hap’s map is far superior it is difficult to read do to its size. I would suggest blowing them up on a photocopier for easier use. Lastly, this trip only had a few places where you felt like you were on a remote northern river. The lakes have camps and cottages and even the river has lots of access points ie. ATV trails; as well the lower section of the river came complete with Cows. Overall, this was a great trip with good rapids and pretty scenery and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different.

I might also suggest that you could talk to your shuttle provider and get picked up just downstream of where the Temagami enters the Sturgeon. This way you can run the last two rapids. This is my only regret about the trip. Bridge rapids looked like a lot of fun.


Post date: Wed, 06/04/2008 - 02:54


This route does contain a bunch of portages unlike the description at the top of the page may lead you to believe.