Canoe / Kayak
Elliot Lake is a paddler's paradise! With thousands of lakes within just a short distance of the City centre, opportunities for paddling scenic waterways are endless. Canoe clubs and the City have partnered over many years to establish well marked, well defined and, by wilderness standards, well serviced canoe routes and camp areas. The routes are here for everyone to enjoy and all we ask is that they are left exactly as they are found.
Although paddling adventures can take shape on just about every waterway in the area, many routes are well defines and marked. Some of these routes are listed below.
The Elliot/Depot Route
This route takes 2 to 3 days to complete, and is 32 km (20 miles) long with 4 portages. It is one of the more leisurely of the canoe routes, with minimal and easy portages (the longest one being less than 500 m). It starts at the Elliot Lake Boat Launch in Westview Park right in the City of Elliot Lake. The Lake itself offers a spectacular view of the juxtaposition of the city and the pristine wilderness that surrounds it. From Elliot Lake, it is only a short portage to Quimby Lake, and from there to Esten Lake. Portaging and traveling by river, canoeists can reach the northwest shores of Marshland Lake with minimal difficulty. Marshland joins Depot Lake. On the eastern end of Depot is the boat launch that is the destination. Situated right on Hwy 108, the boat launch at Depot Lake is the perfect place to end your canoe trip with a picnic under the trees.
Mississagi Provincial Park
Within Mississagi Provincial Park, there are several spectacular canoe routes that can be taken, ranging from day trips to week-long excursions. These routes vary in length, difficulty, and obstacles that will be encountered along the way.
The Dunlop/Mace Route
This route takes from 3 to 5 days to complete, at a distance of 42 km (26 miles) with 9 portages. It begins and ends at the public access on Dunlop Lake, about 10 km north of the City of Elliot Lake. From the public landing there is a 2.5 hour paddle to the first portage on the far northwest shore of the lake. A short portage leads north into Ten Mile Lake. Both Dunlop and Ten Mile are subject to high winds and waves, so be sure to wear your life jackets. From the northwest bay of Ten Mile a short portage leads to Ezma Lake, the first in a string of smaller, more secluded lakes forming the western boundary of this paddling region. A couple of short portages lead to Swamp Lake followed by another short portage to Upper Mace Lake. Upper Mace is dotted with islands, has several wetlands, a sandy beach on the southwest side, and a large secluded bay almost cut off from the rest of the lake. The exit from Upper Mace is via a long narrow bay on the southeast side of the lake, which leads to a short portage over bare Precambrian rock. The portage leads to Lake #5, from which there is another short portage to Lilypad Lake, which has several wetlands that attract rare and fascinating species of birds and animals. Another portage leads to Lower Mace Lake, which has several campsites and islands. Through Lower Mace to Claim Lake, there is another portage to the tip of Dunlop Lake. From that tip, there is another 15 km paddle to the access point from where this journey started.
The Semiwhite/Helenbar Route
This route takes 1 to 2 days to complete, and is under 10 km (6 miles), with only 2 portages. This route can be combined with hiking to exceptional lookouts on the Helenbar Lookout Trail. Simply put-in at the park boat launch, and paddle the shore of Semiwhite Lake east to the portage. Helenbar Lake is the site of a 1946 crash landing of a Gloster Meteor, one of Britian's first jet fighters, which ran out of fuel after the pilot lost his way in a storm. Helenbar Lake has several wetlands, streams and bays, which make for an interesting paddle. You can also leave your canoe at the portage and hike the Helenbar Lookout Trail to gain a superb view of the lake and countryside, and/or reserve a shoreline campsite for the night.
The Flack/Ten Mile Route
This route takes 4 to 5 days to complete, and is 30 km (19 miles) long with 13 portages. It starts at the east end of Flack Lake, from where you paddle about 5km west across the south end of the lake towards Old Baldy, a bare quartzite pinnacle. An uphill portage leads to Bruce Lake, and another around the foot of Old Baldy leads to Olympus Lake. Along the long portage to Astonish Lake, an old exploratory uranium drilling site can be seen. At the end of Astonish's long southern bay is the portage to Ezma Lake, which has several beautiful campsites, some wetlands, and two long bays. At the southeast end of one of those bays, a portage leads to an arm of Ten Mile Lake. Paddle west down the long northwest arm of Ten Mile to portage to Hyphen Lake. Paddling east will lead you through the narrows of Hyphen into Callinan Lake then north into Dollyberry Lake. A portage leads to Bobowash Lake. Bobowash had several bays and islands, making it an ideal lake for exploring. Two short portages, with an unnamed lake in between, leads to Samreid Lake. At the southeast tip of the lake is the route's longest portage, leading across two small lakes then down a steep rocky hill to Flack Lake. A 2.5 km paddle east takes you to the access in Mississagi Provincial Park by Hwy 639.
The Boland River Route
This route takes 5 to 6 days, and is 75 km (47 miles) long, making it the longest of the Mississagi routes. There are 7 portages along the way. The longer route starts at the access on the north shore of Mount Lake and heads east through the new Rawhide Lake Conservation Reserve. It then joins the Boland River flowing westward to Flack Lake and the takeout by Hwy 639. The route along the Boland River is mostly wetland, and therefore provides exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities. Paddle to the east end of Mount lake and through the narrows into McElrea Lake. Just past the narrows on the south shore is a portage leading to Rottier Lake. Rottier is pinched in the middle by a peninsula pointing to a short portage on the south side of the lake. It leads to Gray Trout Lake. At the east end of Gray Trout is a short portage to Rawhide Lake. This large and potentially windy lake, like other lakes in the area, has impressive cliffs along much of the southern shores. The north shore slopes more gently from the water. Depending on the wind direction and wave action, follow either the north or south shores to the west end of the lake where a portage follows Sister River upstream to Little Sister Lake. From the shores of Little Sister a steep uphill portage leads to Book Lake. The longest portage of the trip leads from Book Lake to the Boland River, crossing Rosemary Creek a couple of times along the way. It is a fairly level trail, and the scenery is spectacular. The Boland River flows downstream, winding gently through wetlands and forests of red pine and black spruce. Liftovers and short portages may be necessary where log jams block the way. About 10 km downstream the river valley opens to a broad plain for about 7 km, then begins to meander tightly through wetlands as the hills and cliffs close in again. The last section contains many oxbow lakes and dead-end curves bet eventually comes to Hwy 639. The river continues meandering west of the road through a large wetland before it empties into Mikel Lake, but you may need to take the portage. Head east through the narrows towards the stream and portage coming towards you from Flack Lake. Look for Old Baldy Peak to the west as you paddle southeast across Flack lake towards the access point at the Flack Lake Nature Trail parking area.
In addition to the longer trips, there are many excellent day trip options in the Mississagi Park area, including the following:
Cobra Lake: better known for superb hiking routes, Cobra Lake makes for a pleasant day paddle or combination paddle/hike.
Ompa Route: This route starts at Ompa Lake off Hwy 639 about 21 km north of Elliot Lake. In theory, it can be extended to lead all the way (via Wold, Polar Bear, and Gashen Lakes) into Semiwite Lake, but in recent years the water levels have been too low to make the route practical. Still, it can be a pleasant day paddle or a short overnight trip.