Big Trout Lake Loop
Total Distance: 80 km
Duration: 5 days (including one rest day)
Number of Portages: 17
Total Portage Distance: approx. 5000 m
Level of Difficulty: Experienced Novice - one long portage of 2300m and wind on Big Trout Lake
Map is courtesy of Jeff's Map -- my route is marked in blue
Near the end of 2017, I read Roy MacGregor's Canoe Lake. After that, I became somewhat enthralled with Tom Thomson. While in Ottawa for my daughter's soccer tournament, I headed on up to the National Gallery of Canada and spent a morning looking at his collection there.
What I find so appealing about his work is how he can capture the beauty of Ontario's northern landscape with just an amazing blend of colours. He chose to capture scenes at unusual times of day, in different seasons and locations that, on occasion, are out of the ordinary and unexpected.
I am not sure one can truly identify with his work unless they have spent some extended time moving through the Canadian Shield topography. After that morning in the gallery, I knew I had to get up to Canoe Lake in Algonquin and move through the lakes where Tom painted and fished. So when I mentioned to my father, who enjoys the Group of Seven's work, that I wanted to do a Tom Thomson memorial canoe trip in August of 2018, he was on board for the adventure.
Of the 5 portages along this creek, the last two were the most interesting. The longer 730-meter one passed over a rise next to a waterfall and had some beautiful large trees on it. The forest was a nice mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. The smaller 105-meter portage into Big Trout emerged at the base of a nice waterfall, which I'm guessing would be good Brook Trout fishing in the spring. I was thinking of trying a cast, but of course, other people were using the area at the time by swimming in it which made it impossible.
Day 4 - Big Trout Lake to McIntosh Lake
After a rest day we were looking forward to getting through the "Trouts" and into Grassy Bay. The sun was beginning to peek through the clouds and the wind had died down. Great time to start paddling! Making our way from our site and moving west toward the narrows into White Trout, we got to see more of the lake. The landscape was beautiful and there were some fantastic-looking campsites in the area, all of which looked occupied. The narrows themselves were interesting with large rock faces on the shore giving it the feel of a canyon. There, a large group of young men from a camp in a flotilla of canoes beast-paddled past us. We were enjoying our more leisurely pace. Getting into the north part of White Trout, we passed some impressive cliffs on the eastern shore
On the map, the distance did not look that far, but in reality, the way through Grassy Bay had several switchbacks and took much longer than expected. It got shallow close to the 745m portage and we had trouble seeing it as the sign was in a hidden spot on a tree. The two portages into McIntosh were not that difficult and follow alongside a pretty, bubbling creek.