Vickers Lake loop

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Additional Route Information
105 km
7 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
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Route Description
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After reading about MNR canoe route #79 in silly Backpacker magazine
of all places, I became intrigued by the notion of doing an obscure
route in the Dryden backcountry and sent away for packages from
various MNR offices. I was surprised and pleased by the number and
variety of route descriptions I received. It is somewhat less
surprising that this information is out of date; indeed some of the
descriptions have portage distances set out in chains which was
confusing until I found out that one acre is 9 square chains.

After some consideration, my canoeing partner and I selected the
Vickers Lake Loop, route #17 from the Dryden office. This loop
encompasses lakes on both sides of Highway 502 and looks good on
paper, with 105 km total distance and 20 mostly short portages.
According to the description, access to the route from 502 is possible
in two places: in the north at Rattlesnake Creek, and in the south at
Kenozhe Lake. In addition to MNR materials, the Ontario base map
series at 1:100000 have sufficient detail for navigation and shows
many of the portages, such as they are.

A convenient place to start any trip in the Dryden area is at the Dryden
Safeway, where you can load up on any groceries and get a discount on
gas with your Safeway card.

The put-in at Rattlesnake creek is probably 30km south of Dryden and
there aren't any landmarks along the way. Rattlesnake creek is signed
but 502 has been completely re-engineered so it is now about 50 feet
above grade and any pull-outs or parking mentioned in the route
description are long gone. About 500 m south of the creek is an
entrance to an area of logging activity where one could potentially
park, but we couldn't tell if it was active or not, so decided not
to. Instead we went to plan B: do the loop from the south end starting
from the west side of 502.

There is good parking at the Kenozhe lake access on the east side of
502. An unmarked portage trail on the north side of the Kawawiag
creek leads west from the highway to Kawawiag lake.

On Kawawiag Lake, there are a handful of cottages and several camp sites
along the northern arm; the best appears to be a small but decent site
at the beach at the far north end of the lake corresponding to the
route description. The portage into Mang has another campsite.

The string of portages into Vickers lake is well maintained by local
sport fishermen; there are several boats cached along the way. The last
portage into Vickers may be a bit hard to spot from the Vickers end,
as there is no blaze and it is well to the west of the creek. Here we
met here two locals portaging a cooler, an outboard and an aluminum
skiff. Our huge packs looked heavy to them, but their cooler, outboard
and aluminum skiff looked heavy to us.

As marked in the route description, there is a small campsite on
Aronson side of the Aronson-Meridian portage. This portage trail was
partially obstructed by blowdowns, which we cleared, except for a
single trunk of some 16" diameter.

A campsite on Meridian bay across from the Aronson portage is huge,
flat, shaded by mature pine and quite pleasant although there is a
considerable dump of rusty cans at one end. Any campsites marked in
the route description on the south shore of Beaverhead Island were
not visible to us from the water. There is a small
island just off Beaverhead which is distinctive for having been shorn
of cover on the south end. It is possible to camp here, although it
is exposed to any southwest breeze. This island was prospected once
and several core samples remain. The rock is quite distinctive.

The Manitou lakes are huge and the usual precautions are advisable in a
fresh breeze. Manitou Narrows requires some minor navigational effort
with the map. Birch Narrows really does have a lot of birch. There are
several lodges though this area, plus Watson's old house. The campsite
at Watson's falls is the best we saw on this trip. It is large, clean and
frequently used by local sport fishermen. The portage into Cane lake
is open due to sport fishing use, but the Scattergood connection (a
shortcut back to 502 and the other half of the main loop) appears to
be lost. We found flagging tape and a trail heading into the bush out
of Cane lake, but it faded away after about 200 metres in heavy

There is an overgrown site just inside the entrance to Mosher Bay, over on
the south side by a small bay, which we cleaned up considerably. Farther
down Mosher Bay there is a high rocky area on the south shore where we
sat out a moderate northwest gale. We landed at a small reedy bay in
back of the outcrop, and hacked out a lot of brush to gain access
to the open area on top. It is a reasonable campsite, although
somewhat exposed to wind.

Rattlesnake Creek, where we had originally planned to start the trip
travelling clockwise to the east, was impassable. It appeared as if
clearcuts on the high ground on either side of the creek had removed
all shelter to the trees within the creek drainage and as a result
everything was a blowdown. Although no portages are marked in the
route description west of 502, we did see traces of an old portage
path along the north shore of the creek, and there did not seem to be
enough water to float a canoe. We only went about 1.5 km towards the
highway before turning back. It would be several days of chainsaw work
to clear this creek.

Our description of the route ends here and we have no knowledge of
conditions east of 502. Overall, the section of the route that we saw
is quite pleasant, with minimal development and garbage. No clearcuts
are actually visible from water level.

It would be nice if some of the old MNR routes could be restored to
occasional use. While some crown lands are not as pretty as protected
parks such as Quetico or Woodland Caribou, the seclusion factor is
usually equivalent and often times the canoe routes are directly
accessible off paved highways. Many of the campsites have driftwood
for firewood which is rare to find in provincial parks. The risk of
campsite bear is less compared to some parks. Information collected on
this website should be of great assistance for resurrecting old
routes. Ideally, we also need some level of dialogue with non-canoeing
users like sport fishermen and snowmobilers. Wherever there are
patterns of fishing and winter use, portages are likely to be
open. Finally, perhaps more canoeists could carry bowsaws on their


Post date: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 16:05


I did East Ratle snake creek to Meggisis lake in Aug.08 awesome portage except for a couple tree blow down on the trail.