So many choices! Where to start?
During the winter months, Marianne loves to pour over the maps and books, along with online forums and websites to plan potential routes for us to paddle in the future. We began backcountry canoe trips in the year 2007 and continue to this year. Here is a list of our past trips that includes the location and total days.
2007: Killarney P.P (6 days)
2008: Quetico P.P (4.5 days)
2010: Frontenac P.P (3 days) not a canoe trip
2010: Algonquin P.P (5.5 days)
2011: Killarney P.P (8 days)
2012: Killarney P.P (6 days)
2013: Temagami (2.5 days)
2013: Algonquin P.P (6.5 days)
2014: Quetico P.P (10.5 days)
2015: Algonquin P.P (4.5 days)
2016: Killarney P.P (12 days)
As you can see, we have paddled Killarney Provincial Park the most and have probably covered over 90% of that park. If we were going to recommend any area to beginning paddlers it would be Killarney. What is so great about Killarney is that almost every lake you encounter is different. You can go from crystal clear lake to marsh after one long portage, or from towering white mountains to a bay with smooth rocks and cottages in a day. The only downside about Killarney (though we don't mind it) is that the length of the portages can be grueling, but it is definitely worth it for the views you will encounter at the end of your journey on lakes such as Nellie and Grace.
Algonquin is the next area we have paddled most frequently. We have had 2 successful trips starting from Brent and Kiosk in the fall, and a somewhat unsuccessful trip starting from Canoe Lake where we were wind bound for a few days on Burnt Island Lake. We love paddling the north section of the park as there are less people.
Quetico Provincial Park we have visited twice. The first time we had to take a detour as we couldn't find the portage for the life of us. We rocked it out on our second visit in 2014 with the Hunter Island Loop. We wouldn't recommend a long trip in Quetico Provincial Park to a beginner paddler as nothing is marked in this park, as in no portage or campsite signs. Also be prepared to be wind bound as this particular route crosses some of the biggest lakes in the park.
So as you can see we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to canoe trips in Ontario.
Here is a bucket list of what we hope to accomplish in the next 5 years:
1. Algonquin Provincial Park: A 2 week trip possibly covering the majority of the park as our longest trip has only been 6 and a half days.
2. Temagami Region: After a failed trip in June (never again) we have just barely scratched the surface of this area. A 2 week trip is in order for sure which will hopefully include a climb up to Maple Mountain, or if possible, Ishpatina Ridge which is the highest point in all of Ontario!
3. Woodland Caribou Provincial Park: Northwest of Quetico Provincial Park along the Manitoba Border, this is a definite trip in the next 5 years. It takes 2 full days to drive there. If it wasn't for possibly buying a new vehicle next year (and this vehicle reaching the end of its life) this would be our 2017 trip. We have thought up a route this year, but due to forest fires that have consumed a pretty good portion of the park this past summer, we would probably make up another route.
4. Quetico/Atikokan Area and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park: A week in Quetico Provincial Park, or the Atikokan Area on crown land, followed by hike in backcountry sites in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park for a few days.
5. Day trips or long weekends: This includes Bon Echo Provincial Park, Massasauga Provincial Park and even the Thames River which is practically in our backyard.
After reading over these possibilities, it is a toss up between Temagami and Algonquin Provincial Park as of now for 2017. One region that many will notice that is absent is Wabakimi Provincial Park. Unfortunately we have no maps of that area yet so planning a route is difficult. Hopefully when we go to the Ontario Adventure Show in Toronto February 2017, we can obtain some maps and info. If not, there is always lots of information online which one can obtain as easily or with a little bit of research and reaching out to the proper individuals. Going to the Outdoor Adventure Show itself will be fun as it is nice to get away for a weekend while there is still snow on the ground. Also absent from this list are any routes that involve white water, as we lack the skill and canoe for such a trip.
Where will your next backcountry canoe trip be?