Haliburton Highlands Water Trails: Wren Lake -> Upper Marshlands -> Lower Marshlands -> Horse Lake ->McEwen Lake ->Dan Lake

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
Sept 14/15 2021
Additional Route Information
8 km
2 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
1050 m
Longest Portage: 
400 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

We put in at Wren Lake access point, which is NOT where google maps says the address is.  First we found an area closer to the google maps that looked like it might be, but no signs or info boards, so we drove back down 35 a bit, twice, to find the right spot and did eventually.  Use the GPS coordinates, instead of address to find it.

There is an outhouse, and about 100 meters from the small parking lot to the lake.

Cell signal is a bit patchy here.




Technical Guide: 

The first portage from Wren Lake to the river/marshlands our map showed a 265 meter portage, where the website now shows 40 .  It looks like at one point you were supposed to portage around a much larger section of the river.   Now, just before the 40 meter portage, there is a 5 meter portage that is not signed, but pretty obvious that you should hop out and go around the little waterfall/rapids.  you can put back in right after, go another small bit, and do the 40 meter portage.

The 40 meter portage is alright, easy to get out, but a bit of a steep bit right before you put in, and the grounds a bit soft (nothing to serious).   

the 406 meter portage is easy to get in and out.  It's long, and quite muddy right at the begining by the atv path/bridge, a nice spot for a snack or lunch.   careful to actually get on the portage trail and not follow the atv trail  here. it's a bit sneaky.

we were supposed to stay on site 97, which is at the end of the 406 portage, but it was occupied, so we carried on.    

The 267 portage between the marshlands and horselake was the most difficult one.   its quite soft coming in, and muddy, but nothing you can't deal with as long as your willing to get your feet a bit wet and muddy.   It's mostly uphill, and sections are along a ridge, and it's a bit slippery so be mindful of your footing, we slipped a couple times, but nothing to serious.

We stayed on Horse Lake, then in the morning, went from there to McEwen Lake.  This 213 M portage was drama free and pretty easy on both sides,  relatively flat as well.  Our yoke broke about 2/3 of the way through, which added a degree of challenge and changed our plan from going through margarent lake, to exiting on dan.

The 129 meter portage between mcEwen and Dan Lake we skipped.   There is a narrow channel, that in low water would not be accessible, but with made it through relatively easily without losing any paint.  The portage itself looked flat, and easy, with fairly good put ins/outs.

We exited the Lake on Dan Lake, which is not an official access point, but was clearly used by many people (near site 4).   Nice sandy/rocked access with side of the road spots that can fit cars. 

Dan Lake Access road is a "Secondary" road on the map, but likely could be downgraded to tertiary. It's a much sketchier road then Margaret Lake Road.  We made it through with my golf, but there were some pretty sketchy moments. There are a few very deep puddles, some rocks sticking up, and lots of places where the ruts will cause a lower car to bottom out.   

From there, we planned to walk back to wren lake access,  google maps had it at right around 8 km, and 1.5 hour time, but some lovely atv club members gave us a ride around the end of margaret lake road.

All in all a lovely 2 days/1 night of padding. 

Site 97 is very small, right off the portage trail. there is only room for 1 tent, but it's got a lovely water fall/rapids beside, and nice view of the water from the fire pit.

Site 7 was great!   easy access to the site on the side (around the cliff), and the cliff could very easily be jumped off into the water.   The tent spots are not the most level, but not the worst i've seen, and there is room for 3 tents.   The view of the lake from the fire pit is amazing, and the fire pit area is nice and level for sitting around.    The lake is VERY warm mid-august.