Chiniguchi/Sturgeon Loop

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Trip Date : 
June 27-July 10, 2022
Additional Route Information
153 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
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Route Description
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Info here:

We used the Matamagasi landing. 

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

General description: Two-week trip (when it asks for number of days at top, it asks for the minimum number of paddling days. I wrote six, the reason for which is in the journal. However, I'd recommend adding another day or two for paddling and however many additional rest days.) Our general goal was 18km/day with several rest days planned. Matamagasi L. to Sturgeon R. via Stouffer L., to Maskinonge L. and Donald L. via Donald Creek crossing, back into Matamagasi L. Used Jeff's map, Ottertooth maps, and Hap's river maps. Except for last day on Matamagasi, saw very few people on this trip. Did trip tandem in a 16' Prospector, Kevlar/Epoxy layup. Both paddlers novice to WW, with only one other WW trip prior to this. Water level was low on the Sturgeon (8m3/s on the day we reached it). Big thanks to MyCCR users Eddy Turn and martin2007 for great advice prior to trip.

Day 1: Matamagasi L. to Silvester L. (11km, 1 track, 1 port)

  • Parked at Matamagasi landing, put in around 4:30 pm
  • Tracked up first creek, then portaged 330m into Silvester L.
  • Camped at point site on south end of Silvester. Very nice site.


Day 2: Silvester L. to Chiniguchi L. (10km, 2 ports)

  • Late start
  • Set up sail with garbage bag and spare paddles to take advantage of tailwind. Flew across Silvester L., Wolf L.. Garbage bag had taken too much of a beating by end of Wolf L. to be of further use.
  • All lakes today absolutely stunning. Wolf really left an impression. Had lunch at waterfall at north end of lake.
  • Camped on point site at south end of Chiniguchi. High winds ripped corner loop off of my cheap Bezos tarp. 

Day 3: Chiniguchi L. to Dougherty L. (19km, 4 ports)

  • Found pictographs on rock face just south of a little beach, where the rock signatures are.
  • Explored ranger cabin island, but didn't find anything of interest
  • Paddled into McConnel Bay. Stunning beach. Three sites just back from the beach in the trees. They're all adjacent, so not much privacy if other groups are present. Trail going into woods is used by ATVs and likely the summer camp to access the beach.
  • Thinking we had spotted the port from Sawhorse L. to Adelaide L., we slogged our way through bog to get to it. While it was a portage trail, we realized on 2nd carry that we had missed the "official" landing on the west side just before entering the boggy end of the lake. This would have made a shorter and much easier port. Good laugh about that. Be sure to use the Ottertooth map on this port to avoid getting turned around on ATV trails. 
  • Ports from Sawhorse to Dougherty were generally buggy, wet, unpleasant. 
  • Camped on Dougherty on the island site shortly after the portage. Nice spot. 


Day 4: Dougherty L. to Sturgeon R. (14km, 3 ports)

  • Easy paddling though Dougherty, Frederick L., Stouffer L.
  • Port into Sturgeon R. was buggy but not bad
  • Camped at old lumber camp. Not a particularly pleasant site as it was both too open and very buggy.

Day 5: Sturgeon R. lumber camp to Poker L. (6 km)

  • Woke up to find that something had been chewing on partner's toothpaste and had relocated my cup about 30' into the woods. Small bitemarks suggest maybe a fox?
  • Late start around noon. Today was supposed to be a rest day, but because we were not enjoying the site, we decided to depart.
  • Took 30 mins to brush up on WW skills in C1 after site.
  • Portaged a couple of rapids that had hazards we weren't comfortable navigating. Ran some C1 rapids. Generally the low water is making it tricky to find a line that is not too rocky. Didn't cover much ground today due to time spent scouting, portaging, etc.
  • Stayed at point site on Poker L. Beautiful site, one of our favourites of trip. Felt like a Greek ampitheatre. No bugs! Northern lights! Ketchup chips for Canada Day!

Day 6: Rest day

  • Caught walleye in pool at end of rapids entering Poker L.

Day 7: Poker L. to Pilgrim Triangle (6 km)

  • Slow going through rapids. Many had to be portaged or lined. Ran a few. A bit discouraged by short distance covered.
  • Lunch at the Gorge. Beautiful campsite overlooking rapids. 
  • Stayed at site just before Pilgrim Triangle. Unpleasant site. Full of poison ivy. 

Day 8: Pilgrim Triangle to Lower Goose Falls (21 km)

  • Lots of rapids. Ran most, lined some, only two ports. Much better distance. 
  • Lunch and swim by Halleck Creek portage. Originally we were planning to take this port and head down to Rawson L. eventually reaching McCarthy Bay, but being put off by the ports between Adelaide and the Sturgeon (bugs in particular), decided to stick to the river.
  • Saw one group of two boats of paddlers from GTA. First group we've come into contact with so far. Gave good tip on finding Kelly's portage (they started from Lower Goose and were on last day of their trip). They had done the trip in 6 days, which is why I listed it as 6 above, since the box asks for the minimum number of days. I would recommend adding some extra days to this for rest and to reduce the pace a bit. These guys seemed to agree and thought that it was a good idea that we were taking two weeks.
  • Section between Upper & Lower Goose is beautiful. Meanders and swifts, high sand cliffs, fast water. 
  • Lower Goose Falls portage is just before the bridge on the right. Hap's map has it on the left and there is no bridge on this map. 
  • Camped here. Nice view but bad bugs.

Day 9: Lower Goose Falls to Maskinonge L. (40 km, 3 ports)

  • Early start as we wanted to try to be off the Sturgeon today and weren't sure how long it would take. Bear prints on beach where we loaded canoe.
  • Loved paddling this section. Water moved a lot faster than expected. Even a couple of fun C1 rapids. Beautiful scenery. Lots of moose and bear prints but no wildlife sightings. Maybe because of the rain? With no GPS and few obvious landmarks on this section, I had to keep very close track of where we were, constantly referring to map and compass.
  • Reached Kelly's portage by around noon. Couldn't believe how quickly that section went! Kelly's portage is not marked. There is a creek with a fallen cedar across the mouth. You must pull the canoe under the log and then up a steep, muddy bank. From here you can access both Kelly's portage and the portage into Kelly L. We opted for the latter. This was difficult to locate but had the help of a counsellor from a camp group that had coincidentally arrived there at the same time. They were still looking for the trail to Kelly's portage when we had reached Kelly L. 
  • Sturgeon R. to Maskinonge L. is a slog. Mud. Swamp. Bugs. Didn't want to stop for lunch as it would have been miserable. Maybe Kelly's Portage would have been better?
  • Very happy to reach Maskinonge. Stayed at island campsite not far from where we crossed the beaver dam into the lake. Lots of breeze, blueberries, no bugs. Great day!

Day 10: Maskinonge L. to Donald L. (12 km, 6 ports)

  • Late start. High winds early, headwind, whitecaps, but nice weather.
  • By the time we were ready to go, wind had died down. 
  • Incredible scenery between Maskinonge and Donald L. This was my favourite section of the trip. A couple of tough spots on the ports, but overall, very manageable and pleasant. 
  • Lunch at natural waterslide.
  • Ran into a family that give us what turned out to be a great tip on a site on Donald.

Day 11-12: Rest

  • Paradise, thy name is Donald. 

Day 13: Donald L. to Matagamasi L. (11 km, 3 ports)

  • First two portages were not bad. Jeff's map is wrong on the length of the one from Kukagami L. to Doon L. It is much shorter. Ottertooth has it as less than 200m, which must be right. 
  • Port from Doon L. to Matagamasi starts a bit steep. It was buggy and felt quite a bit longer than the first one of the day, which should have been a similar length. 
  • Pictographs on Matagamasi. Really neat. Camped at point site where this channel opens into the main lake. Party boats, noise...back into civilization! 

Day 14: Matamagasi L. (3 km)

  • Paddled back to car and drove home. 



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