Porcupine-Louisa-Rock Canoe Trip
This middle Algonquin canoe trip
begins at Smoke Lake and ends at Rock Lake. It has 9 portages and paddles
through 10 lakes. This was the last trip I took in the month of July. Even
though the weather is outstanding at this time of
year, it is, as you would expect, also very busy.
Needless to say, many campsites were full and the portage traffic was heavy
at times. There seemed to be a lot of organized groups with guides and youth
groups like scouts, etc.
We dropped off a vehicle at Rock
Lake Access point and camped in the car camping campground at Tea Lake. The
next morning we headed out on Smoke Lake under cloudy skies, yet we were
early enough to avoid the infamous Smoke Lake winds. We took the 240 metre
portage from Smoke to Ragged Lake and picked a nice island campsite on
Archer Bay. Ragged Lake is a nice lake full of islands and bays. We spent
the early evening catching a few smallmouth bass.
The next day we traveled south to the 590 metre portage
that takes us to Big Porcupine Lake. Although it was steep climb, the
park has made it a little easier by constructing steps. The steps also aid
in controlling the erosion of the trail. For our next campsite, we picked an island site on the southern part
of Big Porcupine.
That afternoon we observed something rather disturbing.
Nature can be cruel. We were watching a cute baby loon following close
behind itís mother. There was another pair of loons some distance away,
coming towards the mother and baby.
As the other two loon approached, they dove under the water and disappeared
for a moment. Then suddenly, from underneath the baby loon, one of the loons
hit the young bird. It looked similar to a huge largemouth bass hitting a
floating bait. A few more strikes and the baby loon was gone. Then, even
more of a surprise, the mother loon and the two
others went away together, leaving a badly wounded baby loon, floating on
the surface. We helped the little loon to the shoreline of an island, but it
died shortly after. I can only guess, but it looked like the other loons had
decided that the capacity of the loon population on Big Porcupine had
already met itís maximum.
We continued our adventure the next morning, heading to
Bonnechere Lake via the 200 metre portage followed by a 175 metre portage to Phipps
Lake. The end of the portage at Phipps was extremely muddy. Unfortunately,
we found this out when my son, who was at the front of the canoe we were
carrying, stepped into the mud and sunk nearly to his waist. I was,
thankfully, holding up the back of the canoe, on solid ground. After he
scrapped of the mud and picked of the leeches, we continued on our way to
Kirkwood Lake has two campsites, and we were scampering
to get the desired site before the large group that had been competing with
us at each portage. Our perseverance paid off and we ventured ahead and
quickly grabbed the island site. It was s nicely nested on top of a hill., was high above the water,
with a great view of the lake in all
directions. We were further rewarded with a lovely sunset.
Our adventure then took us to Lawrence Lake by a 715
metre portage. The next portage, from Lawrence to Rod and Gun is known as
the Devilís Staircase. Although only 415 metres in length, the first 100
meters is extremely steep and travels over huge rocks and boulders. Itís
very difficult going up; Iím glad we didnít have to come the other way as,
Iím sure it would be worse portaging a canoe down the hill.
The last portage of the day was a 510 metre trail into
Lake Louisa. Lake Louisa was even more beautiful than I imagined. It was
very scenic with small islands, rock outcrops and peninsulas and away from
the crowds. We choose a
campsite on the south side on a rocky peninsula about halfway down the lake.
The site was spacious, with a magnificent view. We were, however, a little
disappointed with the mess left by some of the careless campers. The
outskirt of the campsite was littered with toilet paper, the shoreline had
garbage and food scraps. There was even a small box of detergent in the
shoreline and soap suds all around.
Not long after we arrived, we heard a motorboat on the
water. It was a park ranger with a maintenance staff and they pulled in to talk
to us. They were going around maintaining the portages and campsites. We
told them about the mess and they did a full clean up of the site. We spent
the rest of the day swimming, relaxing and preparing for the evening.
The next day, we woke up to a beauty misty morning.
Later that day, we decided to relocate to a different site on the lake.
Knowing that we would be tackling the 2895 metre portage in the morning,
we opted to grab a sight closer to the start of the portage. We found a nice
site with a beach at the east end of the lake. We swam, snorkeled and fished. We discussed the big
portage between Louisa and Rock and decided to try to do it in one trip. We MacGyvered up a way to tie the packs and tents inside the canoes.
It was heavy and difficult to put up and down, but at least it would be a
one way trip.
The next morning, we headed out to the portage. We
arrived just when a huge group showed up. We did the portage among about
fifty or more teenagers from some kind of youth organization. They were all
singing and laughing and having a really great time
With great difficulty and pain, we did do the portage
in one trip. In hindsight, when I do this trip again, I will be doing it in
two trips. Itís a long portage, but itís not a difficult one.
Rock Lake is a well known lake in Algonquin. We paddled
by the famous rock cliffs and proceeded to our take out at the Rock Lake
The highlights of this trip was the scenic beauty of
Lake Louisa and the gorgeous weather we had through out the trip.