Canoe Lake - Big Trout Lake

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Additional Route Information
73 km
5 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
7180 m
Longest Portage: 
2370 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Hwy 60 east of Huntsville and Dwight
Algonquin Park Canoe Lake access point
North through Canoe Lake
P 295 m L around dam
Northeast through Joe Lake
Northeast through Little Joe Lake
P 435 m L
P 200 m L into small lake
Narrows with fallen trees
Into Burnt Island Lake
East through Burnt Island Lake
P 790 m (road) into Little Otterslide Lake
North through Little Otterslide Lake and Otterslide Lake
Otterslide Creek, including swampy portages of...
P 250 m L
P 390 m R
P 265 m L
P 50 m R
P 730 m L
P 150 m R into Trout Lake
North then east through Big Trout Lake
Northwest through Big Trout Lake
West into Trout Lake
West through Trout Lake
West through Grassy Bay (some liftovers)
West on McIntosh Creek including portages of...
P 745 m
P 510 m into McIntosh Lake
West then south through McIntosh Lake into creek
South on creek into Ink Lake
South through Ink Lake
P 2320 m into Tom Thomson Lake (ouch!)
South through Tom Thomson Lake
South through Fawn Lake, Tepee Lake, Joe Lake into Canoe Lake
Through Canoe Lake to finish

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Trip done by
Lester Kovac and Igor Klatik

May 30 - June 1, 1997.
This is the opposite direction than stated on Route description
May 31
Started trip at 6:00 pm in persistent drizzling. While there were very few motorboats on Canoe Lake, we didn`t see any canoeists. Our goal was to reach as far as possible while there was still the light. We met first group of canoe campers fishing at Fawn Lake, second group on east side of Tom Thompson Lake. We got to the campsite on west side of Tom Thompson Lake at 8:30 and pitched there our tent.
June 1
Igor claims at 4:30 am he heard the paddling and voices of passing-by canoeist. We started much later, at 8:15 am. We got to the portage and without any checking proceeded through swampy path full of marauding insects. Portage was very hard, but didn`t seem as long as map suggested (2320 m). At the end was small pond, which we though was Ink Lake. We passed through the overgrowth and were very surprised to see the yellow sign of another portage. There is nothing like that in the map, Ink lake should lead to the winding creek and then to McIntosh Lake ! Then we realized we went wrong way !! We were actually on the pond on the way heading to Pathfinder Lake. There was not too much else to do - we turned back and portaged bug infested path once again.
On Tom Thompson Lake we turned north and got to the bay in the shape of T. There in the left side started the longest portage of our trip - 2320 m. However, road was quite wide and very well maintained, so it didn`t seem as hard as the previous one.
Ink Lake was beautiful and much bigger than the Pond we mistook it with before. We continued through the winding creek to McIntosh Lake, where we saw first people (one couple fishing in canoe). First portage brought us to muddy bank of McIntosh Creek. Second portage starts soon after the first one, it must be much closer than the map suggests. It is quite steep and leads to the start of Grassy Bay. Grassy Bay was beautiful, unexpectedly only few bugs. We managed to see there 7 moose on 3 encounters. It is bit demanding on orienteering, though, but there are installed excellent direction boards on the places where you need it the most.
We entered White Trout Lake and according to the voice of playing children it was clear somebody is in the cottage at south east corner of the lake. We saw another moose at the west side of the lake. East side of the lake is rimmed by high cliffs, like a canyon. In the narrows connecting White Trout Lake and Bug Trout Lake we met one canoe heading against us (and we met them at the end of our journey at Portage store, so I guess they probably made the trip but in opposite direction). On the Big Trout Lake we turned south east, passed another two canoes and while searching for the bay with next portage we saw unsuccessful attempt of otter to catch the duck.
At about 6:00 pm we were at the start of portage of 105 m on Otterslide creek, quite exhausted. Our advance on the creek was bit slower than we expected. Portages were nicely developed, wide and with built-in drainage. Note, that description of the route on this site mentions 6 portages, while on the Algonquin Provincial Park map published by Friends of Algonquin there is not marked the portage of 50 m. This portage is not marked on the creek, however, we got to the spot where it was impossible to proceed. First we lined our canoe, then we had to portage it about 10 more meters. We reached first campsite on Otterslide Lake at 8:30 pm and while pitching the tent we watched mother moose with calf feeding less than 100 meters from us. Not a trace of any other people on this Lake.
June 2
At 7:15 am we were already on the water. While Saturday was completely quiet, Sunday we had light wind, but all the time it was blowing us to the back. We paddled fast through the narrow in Otterslide Lake to the south west corner with 790 m portage. Burnt Island Lake was very nice and in about half way through we met first people this day, warming up in sleeping bags beside the fire. Almost at the end of the lake, in the narrow beside the island, we had some work to get through the fallen & stuck trees. Following portages were quite easy and we met more and more people on out way. We got to Baby Joe Lake, passed through it and then portaged 435 meters to the winding river. Note that this portage is probably possible to run, as did another party with empty canoes (they portaged all their stuff, though). On the newer map there is marked 165 m portage on this river. However, we didn`t see any portage sign from our direction and didn`t have any problems to paddle it. We only realized the sign in opposite direction when we paddled by. We passed Joe Lake and suddenly we met another 2 parties at 295 m portage to Canoe Lake. Passed through Canoe Lake and at 12:45 pm we were out at Portage store.

Lester Kovac

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
31 E/10 Tom Thomson Lake
Other Maps: 
Algonquin 1 - Corridor North Adventure Map by Chrismar Mapping Services
Special Comments: 

This is one of the more popular routes in Algonquin Park, so it is always crowded. Some lakes are quite developed with children`s camps, etc. There are many historical sites to visit such as old lodges and hotels.


Post date: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 18:28


The following from the route listing at the top is incorrect:

P 150 m R into Trout Lake
North then east through Big Trout Lake
Northwest through Big Trout Lake
West into Trout Lake
West through Trout Lake
West through Grassy Bay

First the last portage heading north through the Otterslides on the right is listed as 105 meters not 150.

Secondly, the lake is not Trout Lake but Big Trout Lake. The error is corrected in the next lines but is confusing for those unfamiliar with the area.

Thirdly, paddling out of Big Trout one goes through a channel, often into a strong headwind, to reach White Trout, again called Trout Lake in the route listing. The large lake between Big Trout and Grassy Bay is White Trout Lake.


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


We did this route three years ago. Although it is deservedly popular, we found that by heading out from Canoe Lake mid week and starting early on day 1 we managed to avoid any crowding. Apart from passing the odd group on Otterslide Creek the only time that it was busy was when leaving or re-entering the Canoe lake area. In the interior we went for a couple of days and didn't talk to anyone and that was in August!

We're haeding back to the area next week but going clockwise and taking a much more circuitous route to Big trout before heading back down Otterslide.

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


June 10-12th, 2005
We did the reverse route, up to McIntosh Lake on the first day. Got on the water around 10:30 AM. Weather was great, spirits were high, wehad a blast. The 2.3 km portage wasn't too bad. Its kept in good condition and we were packed relatively pretty light and able to do it in one pass. We ended up camping on a nice island on McIntosh Lake around 4:00 PM. It was scorching hot all day, and breezy at night so bugs were not much of a problem. The second day was also a scorcher and we had a long day planned for paddling hoping to reach Otterslide Lake for the evening. We broke camp around 9:30. The bugs were a noticable problem this day. Right from the get go in the morning. Had to get a fire going during breakfast just to keep them off us. One upside to this is the moose appeared to be bothered by them even more than us. So as a result we saw 6 of them that day, sitting in the water, trying to keep the bugs off. Thunderstorms grounded us in Big Trout Lake mid afternoon for about 2 hours. They cleared up around 6:30 PM and we decided to make a break for Otterslide lake. What we got were 3 hours of hell. The trip down Otterslide Creek at dusk was not a good idea since its pretty much a bog. We were feasted upon by mosquitos, they were biting through layer of clothes, and I would guess I had approximately 100 mosquito bites that night alone, despite wearing a black fly shirt and hood. At one section of the creek we all became concerned we were lost, the creek winds tremendously and at one point we came to a faster flowing section littered with rocks and it was literally impassable in the canoe. We had to get out and drag the canoe up stream around the rocks occasionally lifting it a bit. There is no portage around this. There wasn't low-water either, so we had thought we'd gone the wrong way at some point. The only sign of hope were the scuff marks on rocks showing canoes had previously come this way. We eventually reached the next portage letting us know we did in fact go the right way. We reached camp on an island on Otterslide Lake at 9:30 PM just as another thunderstorm rolled in. We had just enough time to pump some water, hang our food and scarf down as many granola bars as we could stomach. Sleeping that night was no problem. The third day though warm, but was not nearly as hot as the other two, so we had bugs to contend with all day. We got started around 10:00 AM Every portage was a mosquito guantlet run. We were pretty exhausted by the time we made it out at Canoe Lake around 5:00 PM. I'd never been on this route and there are several regrets. Big Trout Lake was beautiful, and I wish we'd had the extra day to spend a night there. Running through Otterslide Creek at dusk, was truly not a good idea. This was really the fault of the weather. One fantastic thing about this trip was that after passing one couple coming the opposite direction on the portage between Ink Lake and Tom Thompson Lake, we didn't see anyone until the 3rd day when we reached the western half of Burnt Island Lake. I would do this route again for a 4 day trip in a heart beat. As a 3 day, it was a little much for me. We did take our time for the most part. And broke camp a little later than ideal. The portages were managable. But it was just a little too much. And for a 3-day route if the weather doesn't cooperate, you'd have some challenges.

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


Trip by: Zoran Ivanovic & Chris Oulahen - May 11-12th 2002.

After Friday snow/wind storm we had great weekend weather. Started on Saturday 11th from Canoe Lake at 8:20am. Arrived to Otterslide narrow at 2:45 pm and entered Big Trout Lake at 5:35pm (9hr from the start). Finish the day at the WhiteTrout Lake (8:20pm). Next day (Sunday 12th May 2002) started at 6:40am and finished at Canoe Lake by 1:35pm via McIntosh, Ink, Tom Thomson, Tepee (rain) and Fawn L. Great tour, great time!

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


Worthwhile going in a clockwise direction, ie. to Tom Thomson Lake on first night, so as to hit the big lakes (White Trout, Big Trout) with the wind at your back (worked for me!)