French River - Pickerel River

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Derrick Grigg
Trip Date : 
7/22/2021 - 7/26/2021
Additional Route Information
40 km
4 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
600 m
Longest Portage: 
150 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Put in at Hartley Bay Marina. 

Technical Guide: 



Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

We travelled the Western Channel last summer and loved it so we decide to try the eastern side this year, around Pickerel Creek. With the water levels expected to be low we decided to setup a base camp in Pickerel Bay on the Elephants (site 632) and then day trip down the Pickerel Creek.

Day 1: We put in at Hartley Bay Marina around 1pm and set off for site 632, a nice easy paddle with a slight headwind heading down the main channel. 2 hours later we pulled into Pickerel Bay and started looking for the site. We found site 634 where we thought 632 should be. Checking the map it looked like we had headed down the wrong channel (at this point I should have checked the GPS to confirm). We set back out to figure out where we made our wrong turn and found site 669 which had a nice little beach, good shelter and table/bar setup between two trees near the fire (perfect!) so we decided to setup camp.

After supper we checked the GPS and realized 634 was infact 632 on the Unlostify map. We took a quick trip back over to check out the site again to see if we shoud switch sites. The western views were fanastic just before sunset, the blue berries were plentiful, but there was very little shelter to put up a tent so we would need to setup on exposed rock. We decided a sheltered site was better as Saturday was calling for rain. Time on water 3 hours, 10km.

Day 2: We set off to explore Pickerel Creek and see what the landscape looked like after the Parry Sound wildfire passed through the area in 2018. Just before getting into the creek we ran into a park ranger. He was super friendly and told us the water levels were quite low in Pickerel Creek and we would be lucky to get down very far. The entrance into the creek was pretty tight for the first 500m and then it opened up into a nice open channel. We travelled south down towards site 910 making good time. The landscape changed from Canadian Shield covered in lush green forest to bare Canadian Shield with charred tree remains, it was really stiking how it quickly it changed, like someone drew a line with charcol.

We pushed through a few very narrow spots with extremley rocky liftovers. We were basically bouldering while dragging all 18 -1/2 feet of the canoe. The boys loved it. We did some exploring trying to find a pictograph marked on the Unlostify map but had no luck finding it. After lunch we called it a day and decided to start heading back. Our reward for a full day of canoeing was steak and risotto, so good. Time on water 7 hours, 20km. 

Day 3: The weather reports showed rain so we planned on an easy day around camp. The rain started at 9am and didn't let up until 8pm. For most of the day it was coming in sideways from the south east. Thankfully site 669 had good shelter with the trees and a large rock wall so we were not exposed. Site 632/34 would have been a nightmare in this storm.  There was a walking path behind our tent up a gentle slope to some exposed rock and the thunder box. During the rain storm that path turned into a nice little river running directly under and around our tent :(  Next time I need to do a better job of antipicating that when rain is in the forecast. Time on water 0. 

Day 4: The water line at the beach was noticably higher, about 5 feet up judging from the sand/pebble line where the water's edge had been the day before the storm. The sun was up and bright so we were able to get most of our gear some what dry and packed up for the trip home. An easy paddle back to Hartley with a beautiful tailwind along the main channel that did a nice just of pushing us along. Time on water 2 hours, 9km. 

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
Other Maps: 
Suggested Resource Material: 
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