Total km: 4.8km
Number of portages: 2
Total Portage distance: 960m
I had the very distinct pleasure of introducing my future wife to canoe camping this year. Earlier in the winter, I had broached the subject to map-maker supreme Lord-High-on-the-Mountain Jeff McMurtie, without whom I would be at the mercy of *shudder* MNR based map production. I asked our map-making deity if he knew any places within the park that felt secluded, had at least one notable portage, and yet was relatively close to tarmac in case of rain or wind. Luckily, this cartographic savant was the right person to ask, and he laid out a perfect plan.
We were to use access point #A43 just off Highway 60 at KM 40, and portage down to Sunday Lake. The road to the portage is just off to the side of the Big Pines Trail, it says logging trucks only, but there’s a little spot for you to park up top before a gate by a recognizable yellow sign. The bugs were brutal so we basically ran down the steep rocky trail to the bug-free safety of the lake. Sunday Lake is a small but pretty lake, resplendent with all the key features of a Algonquin waterway. There’s some bogs, rocks, pines, and even a homily island site. This lake looked like it was relatively untouched considering how close it is to the highway, or at least used by people who aren’t trucking in coolers and barbecues.
We took our time paddling across the lake, meandering eastward to the portage towards Proule lake. The sign for it was pretty far back, a bit hard to see from the water at a distance. Once found though, there was a nice log in the water which served perfectly as a dock for getting out and unloaded. I took the requisite pictures of my fiancee’s first portage and then we set out down the trail. This one is easy peasy, if not a bit undermaintained. There was a lot of canopy to avoid, but all the blowdown was a great source of birchbark to get a fire going.
Proule lake is a more open lake than Sunday, but is still a smallish one. We had the lake to ourselves though, and took our time to find the perfect site. The first two westerly sites were a bit closed in by the forest, and not open to the wind which we wanted to keep the bugs off. The site just before the lake dives south in a shallow bay actually had an outhouse too, I’ve never seen one in the park before! We eventually settled on the northernmost site, next to the giant portage towards Opeongo, which is the crowned jewel of the lake. It’s wide open, with plenty of tent pads, tarping points, firewood aplenty, and although rocky the water access is great. This was an ideal warm weather site.
We spent the day relaxing and having fun around the site. We swam, fished, explored the other sites (the other two were great by the way) and we had a very picturesque sunset. A highlight was seeing a youth group head through on the way to Sunday lake. It reminded me of when I was young and with a camp trip covering many miles a day regardless of the portages. The next day we got out early, but in no particular rush. I hope my fiancee had fun and wasn’t just humoring me, but I had a great time exploring a new part of the park which I don’t think many people give two thoughts to.