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  • Writer's pictureRobynne Trueman

3-Day Canoe Trip Itinerary: Long Weekend In Algonquin Backcountry

A portage trip in Algonquin Backcountry is essentially a Canadian rite of passage. Travelers visiting Ontario, Canada, will want to find time to visit Algonquin Park in some capacity, but for the adventurous, backcountry canoeing is a bucket list experience. In August 2022 my partner Ramin, my brother Jack, and myself ventured out in a canoe for a 3-day, 2-night trip through the vast lakes and forests of the Algonquin backcountry.

Day 1: Kawawaymog (Round) Lake To North Tea Lake

The journey began from the outfitters at Kawawaymog Lake, just off the highway near Trout Creek, Ontario. There are lots of parking spots available here for leaving your vehicle overnight or for the duration of the portage trip.

Upon arrival, we simply launched our canoe and began paddling across the lake. However, if you are renting a canoe, this is where you'll pick it up and pay for it. The journey across Kawawaymog Lake was peaceful for us and on the other side, you paddle down a small winding river to the first portage.

The first portage was short, only 135 meters. Then back in the water for a brief paddle before our second portage, which was 255 meters. This brought us to North Tea Lake. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach your campsite, especially if you're camping on the far side of North Tea Lake because it's a massive body of water.

  • Total Portage Distance: 390 meters

  • Approximate Time To Campsite (West Side of the Lake): 4 hours

*** Plan significantly more time if you are camping on the East side of North Tea Lake

Day 2: North Tea Lake To Manitou Lake

Start your second day very early in order to have sufficient time to make it to Manitou Lake before nightfall. We ended up camping on the East side of North Tea Lake the second night, but we did venture over to Manitou Lake as a day trip. There is a waterfall between North Tea Lake and Manitou Lake that is a major attraction where people go swimming and hang out so be sure to wear your bathing suit if you want to enjoy that as a break between lakes.

Paddling across North Tea Lake alone takes at least two hours so plan accordingly. The portage distance by the rapids between North Tea Lake and Manitou is 550 meters. Again, Manitou Lake is vast so book a campsite accordingly. If you have limited experience portaging, book a campground close to the beginning of Manitou Lake so you don't have to cross the entire thing.

  • Total Portage Distance: 550 meters

  • Approximate Time To Campsite on Manitou Lake: 4-6 hours

Day 3: Manitou Lake To Kawawaymog (Round) Lake

The third and final day of this itinerary requires you to go all the way back across North Tea Lake and Kawawaymog Lake to your starting point. However, from Manitou Lake, you'll take a shorter portage route on the way back, just west of where you entered Manitou Lake. This portage is 410 meters.

Be sure to start the morning extremely early. You'll want to be up for sunrise in order to leave enough time to cross all the lakes and get back to your car with enough daylight to spare. Plan your time based on how long it took you to reach your Manitou campsite. If you are struggling on Day 2 to reach Manitou, you can do what we did and simply visit Manitou but camp on North Tea Lake so that Day 3 is less strenuous since you're already part way back to the starting point.

  • Total Portage Distance: 410 meters

  • Approximate Time To Parking Lot at Kawawaymog Lake: 6-8 hours

Safety Tips

A backcountry canoe trip is a fun experience, but it's important to be smart and stay safe. Always leave yourself plenty of time to reach campsites in daylight so you're not left paddling after dark. Have life jackets for everyone on board your canoe and bring flashlights, a first aid kit, and have a way of contacting emergency services should you need help.

Bring enough food for the duration of the trip since you won't find anything you can purchase or forage en route. To lighten your load, bring a water bottle with a filter system so you can drink filtered lake water, rather than carrying all the water you'll need for the duration of the trip. Follow Algonquin Park's fire safety regulations at the campsites.


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