Larder River

Route description submitted By: Don Muir

General Info

Difficulty Ratings

Distance: 40 km
Duration : 5 days
Loop Trip : no
 
River Travel : intermediate
Lake Travel : intermediate
Portaging : Moderate
Remoteness : intermediate

Portage Info

Maps Required

No. of Portages : 13
Total Length: 1385 m
Average Length: 100 m
Longest Portage : 300 m
 
Topo Maps (1:50,000)
Larder Lake 32-D/4 and Englehart 31-M/13

Other Maps
Larder River Provincial Park, an MNR printing if you are lucky enough to find one.

Handicapped Accessibility

GPX Data for this Route

SuitabilitySuitability : unknown


 
no gpx data found

Route Description

The take-out is on the East end of Wendigo Lake. It is accessed from Hwy 569 East of Englehart, then left turn North on Shepard Lake Road, then turn left again on access road to Clear Lake. Hwy 569 is paved but the rest of the 10km to Wendigo Lake is gravel. The only map that shows these back roads in enough detail is the Topo map “Englehart – 31 M/13”. The put-in at the North end of Raven Lake (or as we did on Larder Lake) is accessed by retracing the gravel roads back to Hwy 569, to Hwy 11 then North on Hwy 624 to Larder Lake. Continue on Hwy 66 through Larder Lake, Virginiatown and Kearns. About 3kms past Kearns turn south on gravel roads with approximately 9kms travel to Raven Lake. Again the only map to show this in enough detail is the Topo map “Larder Lake – 32 D/4”. These two maps are essential. Not only do they show the canoe route with most of the rapids, it also shows the back roads necessary for access.

Access point for this trip was at Larder Lake Marina. Free parking available.
East on Larder Lake 4.5km through Big Narrows
S/E on Larder Lake 8.5km to mouth of Larder River
South on Larder River 2km to Larder Lake Dam
P 100m to Dam
Series of 4 small rapids/swifts directly after the Dam. All runable but with tight turns
Faster water will present a challenge. Can be walked in low water and portaged if necessary. No portage trails evident or marked.
East on Larder River 2km to Raven Falls
P 50m RR upper section of falls
Paddle two small pools, 100m
P 150m RL lower section of falls
High water may mean portaging the entire falls. No portage trail evident or marked.
S/E on Raven Lake 1km
P 300m RR around Corset Dam and rapids
South on Corset Lake 1km
P 50m RR East to Ward Lake
S/W on Ward Lake 3km
P 50m RR
S/W 0.7km
** Small swift before visible portage sign. No portage trail evident
P 150m RR
S/W 0.4km
P 60m RR West to unnamed section of river
S/W 0.3kms
** West through short shallow rapids not marked on maps. No portage trail evident
S/W 0.5km
P 120m RR
S/W 1.5km
P 50m RR
S/S/W 4km
P120 to Skead Lake - bypass Flat Rapids
S/W on Skead Lake to First Falls 5km
P 135m RR - First Falls to Upper Wendigo Lake
S/S/W 5km on Upper Wendigo Lake
P 50m boardwalk to Wendigo Lake
S 0.75km to Take-out

 

General Comments

Larder River Provincial Park is 30km long. This trip can be made in one day if you want to rush through it. Two days gives a little time to view the scenery and three days would allow for a little fishing. We decided to take 5 days. Instead of putting in at the upper end of Raven Lake, we put in on Larder Lake. This made the total trip distance 40km. This extra 10km across Larder Lake simply extends the trip by another day. To extend the trip another day we took a campsite for two nights and had a relaxing lay-over day.

Since we started at Larder Lake I have no description of the Raven Lake access point. However the old MNR publication says there is a dock and parking available. Starting at Larder Lake eventually brings you to Raven Lake just 4.5km downstream from that access point. Putting in at Larder Lake allows you to paddle the upper portion of Larder River and view the spectacular Raven Falls. Even if you put-in at Raven Lake, a walk up Raven Falls to take in the view is a must.

This trip information must be used as per the water conditions. When we made this trip the water level was quite low. Some spots that had no water on this trip would be completely under water in high water conditions. With the lower water level all of the rapids on the trip were bump and grind boulder gardens. Mostly Class I – II with perhaps a Class II technical for a couple of them. In higher water conditions many of the rapids would become easier from the point of rocks but harder due to the speed and volume of water. Most of them would take on a Class II technical rating with some probably a Class III. I’m not an expert at rating rapids so my description is only a general opinion from my limited knowledge. All rapids whether in high or low water conditions should be scouted first. The MNR Publication for the Park states, “Some rapids can be run by experienced canoeists, but all the portages are recommended.” And on the Ontario Parks web-site it states, “NOTE, much of the river features wild white water—to be challenged by experienced canoeists only.”

Campsites and portages are marked quite well but there are a few where someone has torn down the markers. Why anyone would do that is beyond me especially if the portage starts well above any rapids that are not visible. Knowing river right or river left for most of the portages is a must! Footing on the majority of portages is good when dry but hazardous when wet as the ground is mostly smooth bedrock and always on a slant, never flat! In general the campsites we saw were sufficient size for up to 3 scattered tents with ground being a mixture of moss covered bedrock and some soil.

My overall assessment is that the scenery is fantastic, the river travel and rapids are a good challenge easily done with a plastic boat in low water but white water experience and scouting is necessary in higher water conditions. The campsites we saw were on the small side, level ‘tent pads’ practically nonexistent on many of them, but they did accommodate our three tents and on our layover day we had 4 tents set up on a larger site. Portage and campsite signs are hit and miss. Some of us don’t care to see any signs anyway. All the portages were easy except for slippery footing. As usual there was too much garbage lying around. But then if I see even one beer can that’s too much for my liking. Some of these small lakes especially at the North and South ends of the park are popular fishing spots, accessible by motor boat. We saw very little wildlife; perhaps a different week or month would have made a difference. The shuttle setup can be a bit of a pain especially when it is 2.5 – 3 hours. Having someone drive your vehicle(s) to the take-out would be a real plus. I do not intend on planning another trip here but if given the opportunity I would definitely do it again.

 

Trip Log / Diary

This trip was decided on mainly by a newbie to canoeing Dan D. He had taken this trip a couple times many years ago as a young lad with his father. I took Dan D up on this trip suggestion and invited a few more pals, Bob and Ron (tandem) and Dan T. (solo). Myself and Dan D would also be paddling solo. Bob, Ron and Dan T being from out of town stayed at my house the night before and after Dan D met up with us for a quick coffee and breakfast snack provided by Bob, we took off on our adventure.

Day 1 – Lots of driving! 15k paddle. One short portage of 100m. We left North Bay around 7:30am. One hour on Hwy 11 North to Temagami we stopped for gas. We needed two vehicles minimum and three for comfort. Dan T had his canoe on his roof. Bob and Ron traveled together in Bob’s car. Dan D and myself traveled in his van with his canoe on the roof and pulling my utility trailer with two canoes, mine and Bob’s, along with most of the gear. Another hour to the turn off to Hwy 569 south of Englehart.
Continue North on 569 until the pavement ends. The gravel road that follows is Sheppard Lake Road. This is where the TOPO Map is really a must have item. Continuing along gravel roads until we get to the take-out point on Wendigo Lake. This park access has ample parking space but does not allow for camping. There is camping allowed at the most southerly access point on Clear Lake. Leaving Bob’s car as the return shuttle vehicle we backtracked 25 km to the junction of Hwy’s 569 and 11 where Hwy 624 joins. Hwy 624 takes you directly to Larder Lake, about an hours drive. The Larder Lake Marina is easy to locate and free parking is available. There is a store in Larder Lake to purchase last minute supplies/gear and food. There is also an LCBO! By the time we arrived, unloaded and put in the water it was approximately 12:00noon.

The day was full overcast with rain showers and drizzle the whole drive north. With 15km of paddling ahead of us on Larder Lake, we took off hoping the winds would stay relatively calm as they had so far that morning. Naturally a stiff breeze kicked up before we got across the top of Larder Lake. Small whitecaps but nothing too severe. Once we rounded the corner at the narrows we were sheltered from the wind but of course means the rain increases. Can’t expect everything to be perfect! It was hard navigating in the fog that crept in. We wanted to stay closer to shore but knew we had to head into more open water or else it would take too long to reach our first nights destination. In less cloudy conditions the direction would have been much easier to see. Sheltered from most of the wind and Dan T. taking the lead using his GPS, we made it to the end of Larder Lake as the clouds broke and the sun began to shine. A couple km down the Larder River brought us to the first portage of the trip. 100m carry to the Larder Lake Dam. The Dam is our first nights camp. There is an old partially submerged wooden dock to the right of the Dam. As we were unloading we noticed some very dark clouds heading our way and the thunder was getting louder. We had enough time to get most of the gear to the Dam and take out a tarp to set up. Before we could get the tarp up, the skies opened up and it POURED. We were completely drenched in a matter of seconds, so we just kept on putting up the tarp.

The rain stopped as quickly as it had come. We finished setting up camp. The site is large but with uneven ground. We had three tents and decided only two could be set up comfortably along with the tarp leaving enough room for the fire. Dan D and I set up our tent back on the portage trail where it was obvious other tents had been before. Supper was Dan D’s responsibility for the first night. I helped him cook up Bar-B-Q steak, potatoes and vegetables. And of course copious amounts of beer since we didn’t have to portage any of it to this point! It took a while to get a good fire going and while gathering firewood I slipped and fell. Lots of blood from my skinned left elbow which could have been broken if I had fallen directly on it. The worst of the fall was that I twisted my lower back which would plague me for the rest of the trip. Thank goodness for drugs! The rain held off the rest of the night only sprinkling now and again, just enough to keep everything soaking wet.

Day 2 – 8km total, 9 portages/rapids. Mainly cloudy with a hint of blue showing through now and again looked very promising. I was the first one up and explored the Dam area for a while. Dan D was responsible for breakfast and we had a good feed of bacon and eggs, coffee and bagels. With our packs now a few pounds lighter from so much beer and food gone, we packed up ready to hit the river. Of course the soggy equipment and packs made up for any lost weight! Since there was a small lift-over just 30-40m downstream we carried our gear to that point. After this there were 3 more sets of short rapids/swifts separated by small pools. For each of these boulder sections, and what became the norm for the rest of the trip, we stayed in the canoe until we had to get out and walk the canoe over the rocks. Bob and Ron had the roughest time being tandem they sat much lower in the water than the rest of us. Plus they had a fiberglass canoe whereas the solo boats were plastic. They had to be a bit more careful.

As we approached Raven Falls a couple km downstream, Dan D said to get our cameras ready. He wasn’t kidding! The view from the top of Raven Falls is spectacular. Raven Lake is in the distance and you can’t see all of the falls because of the staggered drop. Because the first drop is smooth rock Dan D simply left his gear in his canoe and slid it down the rock! (What the heck, he had a Coleman) I could have done the same but….. This sort of set pace for the rest of the trip as far as rapids goes. Dan D had no problem attempting any of the rapids since his 15’ Coleman was not a big concern of his. I followed close behind Dan D on most of the rapids but there were a couple I didn’t take that he did.

At Raven Lake we stopped for a bit of lunch. This is only 2.5km since we started this morning. We weren’t really pushing it, but at the same time we realized how much portaging was involved and we were not going to make it to our next campsite in any record time. (should have slid the canoe down the rocks!) By now the sun was coming out, no more rain.

Paddle down Raven Lake to the small water dam and rapids into Corset Lake. At Corset Lake there is an old power station we explored for a few minutes. Dan D went down the river, the rest of us portaged! Another short portage brought us into Ward Lake. After another short portage and paddling towards the bottom end of Ward Lake we had a bit of a problem finding the next portage. Into a small bay at the south/east corner of Ward Lake it shows another set of rapids with portage of 150m. I knew we were in the right spot but could not see any portage sign or any visible trail before the first little swift on this set of rapids. Bob and Ron figured we were in the wrong spot and they backtracked to the main body of the lake to explore further down. Dan D and I said let’s go for it and headed down the small swift. Dan T stayed behind to see what we found. As soon as we popped out at the end of the swift we could see the portage sign straight ahead of us.

Dan D naturally headed down the rest of the rapids. I did not want to take this one, looked a bit too much for me. Dan T came through the swift and we headed down the portage. The campsite supposedly in the middle of this portage according to the map is non existent although the ground is flat enough to pitch a tent just about anywhere in this area. Time was starting to run out and we decided on a campsite at the far end of the portage. Dan T and I continued portaging our gear and eventually Bob and Ron showed up at the start of the portage since there was no other path where they had explored and it was obvious they had to follow where we had left them. So the entire 2nd day was only 8km total but we had taken close to 8 hours to get there. Talk about lily-dipping!

We set up camp, hung a tarp again even though the skies look promising for no rain. It was Bob & Ron’s turn to make supper and we feasted on a delicious beef curry with rice. I took some more pills and hit the sac.

Day 3 – 7km total, 5 portages/rapids. Breakfast compliments of Bob & Ron. Western omelets, bagels, juice and coffee. Just a few minutes paddle to the end of this small lake Dan D and I ran the short rapids, again bumping our way down a boulder garden while the rest of the group portaged. A few minutes later the map said “swirling current”. It ended up being a shallow rapid but this time no large boulders. Easily taken in higher water and on this trip by the solo boats but Bob and Ron eventually had to get out and walk their canoe a short distance.

Another couple small rapids and nice scenery brought us to a section of unnamed lake just above Flat Rapids which goes into Skead Lake. At the narrows on this lake we stopped for a lunch break. The campsite we stopped at was more barren than most being on a lot of bedrock but it did have some very good flat tent pads. When we got to Flat Rapids it took a while to decide whether or not to try these or take the portage. Since Flat Rapids is a series of 4 rapids that can’t be seen until you’re on top of them it would be bad if we had to turn around half way through. But considering what the other rapids had been like so far, Dan D and I decided to go for it. Bump and grind again for the first two boulder gardens. Had to get out more than once to float the canoe. The third set of rapids posed the greatest challenge because we could not see the entire length. Dan D and his Coleman pushed on through without scouting (BAD – Don’t do that) while I held back and watched his progress. At one point he suddenly dropped out of site. I knew he had gone over a drop but did not know how high. I could see the pool beyond the drop and waited for Dan to appear. What seemed like an eternity he finally popped into view with his arms raised in celebration. Now it was my turn!

I headed down while Dan paddled back a bit and got out of his canoe at the end of the drop. As I got closer to finally see what was in store for me Dan said my eyes were as big as saucers and my jaw dropped. I had a split second to pick the line to take between numerous boulders while being bounced around by boulders above the drop which steered my canoe the way they wanted not the way I wanted to. The only line to get through this three foot drop without getting hung up meant passing between two boulders which was a few inches narrower than the canoe but the current would push me through, then trying to miss a huge boulder smack dab in the middle of the run only about ten feet away. Any other line would mean getting hung up or worse. Dan didn’t help matters by pointing to all the boulders and yelling “there’s a rock here…and there…and there…..”

Now let me be honest and explain that this small drop we went through would probably not be such a big deal to anyone who is a river traveler. However I am primarily a lake traveler and this was really something in my mind. I realize it isn’t to be taken lightly as even experienced WW paddlers would have the same problems to deal with especially the fact that you could barely steer the canoe before the drop due to other boulders in the way. But still…..what a RUSH!!!! After one more set of easier rapids Dan D and I put ashore and had a celebration drink while we waited for the others to catch up to us.

When the others finally caught up to us we took off in search of our next campsite. This one we wanted to be a decent site because we were going to be there for two nights. I had originally planned on checking out the last campsite on Skead Lake marked on the map however after a short paddle from First Rapids; Dan T noticed a sand bank leading up from the waters edge on the East shore. He checked into it and found a very nice, large, flat campsite with a large well built fish cleaning table. The table is what Dan T really liked because it was his turn to make supper. Lots of sunshine now. With lots of room I finally took out my solo tent I had brought with me. We still set up a tarp in the middle of the site just in case. It was fairly early in the day so we had lots of time to set up camp and go for a bath.

Dan T surprised us with a huge spaghetti supper. Lots of sauce with freshly sliced mushrooms, peppers and onions. Toasted bagels with garlic butter and red wine to wash it all down. His pack must have weighed a ton! Later that evening we had a snack of smallmouth bass that Bob and Ron had caught during the last part of the day.

Day 4 – No travel. We had a very relaxing day with full sunshine and hot temperatures. Started off with ‘Boil-n-Bag’ Omelets by Dan T. Dan D and I took a paddle downstream almost to First Falls and back. Bob and Ron headed out fishing and caught a couple Pickerel. Found out later they were not really pickerel but ‘sauger’. Dan D and spent a couple hours relaxing on our lawn chairs we had plopped into the water on our campsite beach. A drink or two later and I was getting sunburned.

In the late afternoon Dan D decided he was going to make a sail for his canoe. Sure enough only an hour later using materials lying around the campsite and a section of a large blue plastic tarp he had brought, he was sailing across the lake. But without any out-boards (or what ever they are called) he could only go downwind. But he paddled back more than once only to set off again proud as punch with his sail.

Supper was my turn and I made a chicken stew. After experimenting at home I found I could use all store bought dried ingredients. Re-hydrate and cook into a half decent stew using So-Soy chunks as the chicken. Funny, it tasted better at home when I had tried a couple weeks earlier. There was so much sodium in the meal we may as well have just opened a kilogram bag of salt and poured it into our mouths.

Day 5 – 10km total, 2 portages/rapids. With the last two main bodies of water being long and narrow I didn’t want to get caught on them if the wind picked up. I told everyone we were to be on the water by 8:00am. Sure enough everyone was on the water at 8:00 on the dot waiting for me still packing my gear into my canoe. Still, 8:06am was pretty good. About 3.5km to First Falls is where I told Dan D that I would not try going down these falls if I were him. Not that he was going to shoot them but he wanted to line down them. I still disagreed and told him so as he started off. I headed back to the portage where the rest of the group had already began. Tue to form Dan D beat all to the bottom. He lined and lifted his Coleman down the first section which was the worst then got in and rode the last half. This guy has no fear!

The next 5 km is down the upper arm of Wendigo Lake. Back to cottage country, although there wasn’t too much going on at this time. It seemed longer than 5km because the lake is so narrow and has towering cliff edges for the first part. Very impressive scenery again. At the dividing point between ‘Upper Wendigo’ and Wendigo Lake is a small channel that has been cleared out of rocks so power boats can travel through. Even with the low water levels it was no problem shooting down this short straight run right next to the Boardwalk that runs beside it! At this time the take-out is visible just one km south.

Dan T, Dan D and Bob headed back to the put-in to get the vehicles. Ron and I had to wait for them. Ron did have one little surprise up his sleeve. He had left two cans of beer behind in Bob’s car. After the gang took off to the put-in Ron took these two beauties and although not very cold, quite refreshing to say the least. The shuttle trip took 3 hours because the Hwy 624 was closed for constructions and they had to make the longer trip up Hwy 11 and go through Kirkland Lake. Naturally they returned with some ice cold refreshments.

We ended up at my house around 5:00pm. Showers and beer for everyone except Dan D who had to get home. We had a steak, potato and salad dinner. Nothing left to do now but to sit around and discuss the finer points of shooting rapids, fishing, portaging and start planning the next trip.

  

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User Submitted Information

THIS IS AN OLD VERSION OF 'ROUTES' & THEREFORE IS NO LONGER OPEN FOR ADDITIONAL COMMENTS.
 
 

Submitted by:  Mathew         on 2012-02-29

This trip can also be started at raven Beach down Cheminis mountain Rd and cuts the trip down to 3 days if you take your time or 2 days if you go hard. The first portage is a long one if you have supplies I sugest bringing two ropes and walk your canoe down the dam from the shore. Took us (2 people) 1hr to portage to corset lake. The portage after that were mostly under 20mins pack down pack up, but probly less then 1 min walk. Except that last portage it was a long one aswell but theres a camping spot so unpack camp the night and move in the morning. Water was low for most of the trip making us have to portage most rapids instead of taking them as it was in July. This trip would be better to take in early spring.

Submitted by:  Mathew         on 2012-02-29

The fishing was mostly Large Pike and Bass. You could see the bass in the water when walking along the shore at the camping areas the bass would jet out from the rocks. Tones of bass we caught our klimit in bass every day.


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