La Vérendrye Circuit 16 (Kodiaronk)

CanadaQuebec04 Ottawa
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Paul MSG
Trip Date : 
August 6-10, 2021
Additional Route Information
83 km
5 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
5764 m
Longest Portage: 
1240 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Le Domaine (rental and service centre) can be reached via autoroute 117, 54 km from the south entrance to the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve or 126 km from the north entrance to the La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve.

Technical Guide: 
  • Put in at Le Domaine (off Autoroute 117) into lac Jean-Péré
  • Paddle NW 7.4km and carry over a beaver dam
  • P 400m into lac Barnières
  • P 200m into lac de la Voie
  • P 180m into lac Poulter
  • Paddle W 11km towards to enter the section that's only maintained every 3 years
  • P 50m into ruisseau des Rapides (upstream R1)
  • P 134m into ruisseau des Rapides (upstream R3-4)
  • Paddle SE 11km towards lac Byrd/baie Cox
  • P 400m to exit baie Cox into lac Tie
  • P 180m into lac des Tanaisies
  • P 20m (muddy beaver dam) into Petit lac Brunet
  • P 1240m (expect fallen trees) into lac Igname 
  • P 320m over La Vérendrye 20 logging road and into an unnamed lake
  • P 270 up an ATV trail to lac aux Deux-Îles
  • P 400m to lac Alsou
  • P 350m to lac Kodiaronk
  • Paddle E 14km through lac Kodiaronk
  • P 55m to ruisseau Kodiaronk
  • P 70m (R3) to ruisseau Kodiaronk
  • P 85m (R2) to ruisseau Kodiaronk
  • P 140m to ruisseau Kodiaronk
  • P 240m to ruisseau Kodiaronk
  • P 120m to lac Barker (water is rocky and shallow 100m before this portage. Best to walk through)
  • Paddle E 2km through lac Barker
  • P 270m into lac Antostagan (re-entering the area that's maintained annually)
  • Paddle 7km through lac Antostagan
  • P 265m (R1-2) to lac Richer
  • Paddle N 3km through lac Richer 
  • P 400m into lac Jean-Péré
  • Paddle N 8km back to Le Domaine.
Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Trip report - La Vérendrye Circuit 16

The Circuit 16 (Kodiaronk) canoe route in la Réserve faunique La Vérendrye is listed as a 83km route that’s supposed to take 5 or 6 days and maintained every three years. After having done Circuit 11 (Antostagan) and 15 (Poulter) in four days each, a friend and I decided we could double our distance by shooting for a 5-day timeline. And we decided to bring his 8-year-old son to make things interesting.

Carving out time for a 5-day trip meant some work-related acrobatics but after a number of 2-4 day trips over the years, it felt right to start adding an extra day. Kevin Callan has regularly lamented that no one takes 7-10 day trips anymore that used to be the standard. While we quietly try to shift societal conditions where this much time off for everyone is mainstream, I’m happy to report that I’m getting closer to the goal.

Since there aren’t any recent reports from this route, here’s a summary that might help you plan your trip.

Day 1 - Lac Jean-Péré to Lac Poulter

Driving to Le Domaine up autoroute 105 through Kitigan Zibi, Maniwaki and up autoroute 117, we were given visual reminders of the Indigenous people who have lived on this land for thousands of years, their culture and also their struggles with colonial institutions, from orange t-shirts, ribbons and messages to commemorate those who attended residential schools to remnants of roadblocks that were erected in the fall of 2020 to prevent hunting of the declining moose population - an animal that the Anishinabe people rely on and need to maintain in healthy numbers. We were grateful to have the privilege of spending five days on traditional Anishinabe territory.

With new processes and increased demand for canoes at CCLV in Le Domaine, we opted to rent a kevlar canoe from an Ontario-based outfitter. This solution took more time the day before but, with campsite permits booked over the phone and printed at home (a welcome change simplified by Covid), once we got to Le Domaine, the time from car to water was pretty quick!

That is, until I realized that I left my PFD at home. Oops! No problem, a quick jog to the CCLV office and I was set.

We hit the water just before 3pm (later start than planned due to the aforementioned work acrobatics)  and looked ahead at about 16km of paddling, with a beaver dam and three portages between us and camp. Starting on lac Jean-Péré can be unpredictable as the lake is known for high winds and choppy water. Of the three trips I’ve done in the park, this crossing of Jean-Péré was the most challenging. From the beach, the sky was overcast with the sun still regularly breaking through but 3km in, although it wasn’t raining, wind was picking up and we could see a dense precipitation shaft in the distance. In the middle of the lake, we decided to put our raincoats on as a precaution and as soon as we zipped our jackets, wind began to blow our canoe around and massive rain drops started pelting us and filling our canoe. We decided to seek a bit of safety by a small nearby island and saw other paddlers on the open water doing the same.

Thankfully, the storm was short lived and soon reduced to a gentle drizzle that we could safely paddle through. We made our way through the lake and were gaining on a group of five canoes. By the time we reached the beaver dam, we were right behind them and knew we’d pass them on the first portage. A few brief conversations with this group of ten guys from Montréal, we learned they were doing Circuit 15 and planned to camp on the same beach we camped on in 2020. By some standards, we didn’t pack as light as we could but we were still able to finish the first portage as a single carry and didn’t see the group from Montréal again.

With sunset approaching, we made quick work of the two other portages and quickly paddled across the first half of lac Poulter. During a lull in conversation, the 8-year-old boy shouted to me “Stop thinking about work!” From the mouths of babes, eh?  We made it to a campsite by 7:40pm and as I started setting up my tent, I realized that my PFD wasn’t all I had forgotten… I had left my tent poles at home too! Thankfully, some clever work with some guylines and canoe paddles left me with a pitch I could use for the next four nights.

Beyond burgers were on the menu which made for a delightful treat after a long day of driving and paddling. Our site had a mouse who seemed interested as well. We made sure our food was well hung by finding a branch that cast over the edge of a hill, giving our food bag extra height off the ground.

Day 2 - Lac Poulter to Lac Igname

We started day 2 with a paddle through the second half of lac Poulter and saw a few motorboats before reaching two short portages and truly entering the 52km section of Circuit 16 that only sees maintenance every three years. The first portage is only marked on the map as an R1 with no portage. We discovered that it was upstream, shallow and had a portage sign. After making it through it and the next short portage, we paddled through ruisseau des Rapides into lac Byrd, passing some sections where tree stumps were poking through the water, suggesting to what extent the water was quite a bit shallower at one time. We paddled for about 11km before reaching a block of four portages that we knew we’d end our day with.

The first two were straight forward but had clear signs of the park’s other user group: Hunters. A wooden blind, an abandoned row boat and a portage sign shot twice by a shotgun are all signs of why the park shuts down to paddlers by mid-September and the same reason there were Indigenous roadblocks last fall. The third portage, only 20 metres long, was a technical challenge over a soggy and muddy beaver dam. The small lakes between portages were quite scenic in themselves. Finally, we reached the last portage of the day, the longest of the trip - an uphill climb for 1,240 metres. The trail was generally fine for the first half but the second half was punctuated by several fallen trees that we had to walk around, over or under. Easier said than done with a 17’ canoe over your head.

Finally, we reached lac Igname, the small site where we’d camp for the night. We could see the sign for our next portage, which would take us over a logging road and as we prepared dinner for the night, we could hear truck traffic from across the lake.

Day 3 - Lac Igname to Lac Kodiaronk

While we ended day 2 with four portages, we now started day 3 with four more. Each portage sign had been tagged by a number of different names and years. But every single one in this remote section was tagged “HORNY ALEX.” This was a man on a mission to get his name out and probably took so long tagging his name, he probably did take 7-10 days to complete the route.

Crossing the logging road, we paddled across a nameless lake that’s large enough to deserve a name, listening to logging trucks roar along the shoreline, just out of view behind a strip of trees. Each portage kind of had its own character, the first one intersecting with a steep ATV trail that took us to lac aux Deux-Îles where we found two flooded row boats and some trash (including human waste...gross). After reaching the highest point of elevation of the trip, we descended a little into lac Kodiaronk where we paddled for about 15km, keeping a beach campsite that was only 5km (and six portages!) further as a stretch goal. In the end, we opted for the closer target which was for the best. We’d learn that the six portages weren’t anything we’d want to deal with at 7pm and besides, the campsite we found was on an island, had a picnic table and a nice rock that sloped into the water.

Dinner that night was very satisfying and consisted of potato lentil burritos and bannock. We cleaned up some trash around the site and after the sunset, got to see some shooting stars from the rock.

Day 4 - Lac Kodiaronk to Lac Antostagan

We knew that the shooting stars the night before were a treat because at that point, we had no accurate sense of what the forecast might bring. In the end, it rained a decent amount overnight and we were glad to have a 10’x10’ tarp pitched over the picnic table. Sun was visibly trying to crack through in the morning but we started the day with a bit of drizzle. There had been pretty consistent daily rains at camp until this point which meant that much of our gear was stored wet for most of the trip.

We started the day with six portages that were around a number of rapids and waterfalls. Visually, this section was a highlight where each portage and navigable section of ruisseau Kodiaronk offered something to admire. From flowing water, smooth rocks and windswept pines. As we approached the sixth portage, which would have separated us from our beach site the day before, we encountered a hazard that wasn’t on the map: a tricky, shallow and rocky section that, for 100m, had all three of us exit the canoe, carefully guiding it between exposed rocks. It was a very good thing we didn’t try this at 7pm the day before.

Now on lac Barker, we approached the remote last portage, bidding farewell to Horny Alex and entering lac Antostagan which is maintained annually. We paddled under a bridge where a logging truck driver saw us signalling to him to blow his horn, which he did, much to the enjoyment of our 8-year-old canoe buddy.

I then gave my friend and his son a choice to make: more beach options to the left or fewers beaches but also waterfalls to the right. They chose to go right but I told the boy that to be lucky enough to get a beach site meant that he had to paddle - especially since we saw other paddlers vying for our preferred site.

He was happy to oblige and we motivated him with incremental stroke challenges. From 25, to 50 and eventually 100. He was also encouraged when I’d share speed and distance information from my GPS. It didn’t last long but with his help, we managed to hit 10KMH.

At camp, a small beach site that was left unclaimed by anyone, we took advantage of sunny weather to dry our gear, go for a swim and enjoy ramen noodles for dinner. After sunset, we were treated to one of the most spectacular lightning storms either of us had ever seen. The flashes were constant but the thunder was thankfully distant. It started to rain just as we retreated to our tents but it never got too bad given the light show. It was still hard to predict what the next day’s weather would be like. The forecast before we left called for a decent amount of rain…

Day 5 - Lac Antostagan to Lac Jean-Péré

This was the last day of our trip and we got our earliest start, getting the kid out of bed and onto the water an hour earlier than days 2, 3 & 4. The last day would have the least distance and the fewest portages (only two) but we had a bit of a deadline caused partly due to needing to get back to work, wanting to try to return the canoe that day and also wanting to stop for casse-croûte on the way home.

Paddling away from our scenic beach site, we caught a glimpse of the neighbouring site, vacated by the paddlers we saw the day before, and figured they must have impressively started even earlier.

On the second and final portage, we saw their boats. Three women, one of them casting her rod from shore. They were wrapping up their 4-day loop of Circuit 11 and expressed jealousy about the 44 lbs kevlar canoe I easily carried on the trail and set into the water. “Is that all the stuff you have? You don’t have any other bags left at the other end?” asked one of them as we loaded our gear and selves into the canoe. I shook my head and answered “That’s it. This is our last day of five. We had more food to start but I guess we packed light.”

And with that, we kicked off, paddling the final 8km on lac Jean-Péré with little incident but having clearly re-entered civilization as we could hear motorboats, car traffic and construction noise. We also spotted a few marked campsites that weren’t indicated on my map. In the end, as we paddled, our GPS told us we had done 92km. We aren’t quite sure where the added 9km came from but we’ll take it. On the way home, we stopped for fries and also a quick detour to see pont Savoyard in Grand-Remous. The 5-day canoe trip was a success. Here’s hoping a 7-10 day trip is on the horizon.

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
La Vérendrye Carte guide 1 (1:50 000)
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