Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Loop—Stoney Rapids, Black Lake, Chipman Portages and River, Selwyn Lake, Porcupine River, Fond du Lac River, Stoney Rapids

CanadaSaskatchewanNorth
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Brian Johnston
Trip Date : 
Mid to late August 2021
Route Author: 
Brian Johnston
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
400 km
Duration: 
14 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
12
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
4000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Advanced
Lake Travel: 
Advanced
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
High
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Drove to Stoney Rapids. Stayed overnight at the Water Front Lodge B&B. Arranged for a shuttle/drop off at Camp Grayling near the Fond du Lac River outflow on Black Lake. 

Technical Guide: 

Canoe Saskatchewan Canoe Trip #26 Black Lake (Saskatchewan) - Chipman Lake - Bompas Lake - Selwyn Lake - Flett Lake (Northwest Territories) and Laurel Archer’s Saskatchewan Canoe Trips book.

 

 

 

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

A wonderful canoe trip. Route choice, history, water levels, upstream, big lakes, downstream, wind, rain, temperatures, bugs, scenery, food including berries, and company—all fantastic. 

Highest water in 50 years because of a large amount of snow pack from the previous winter. 

Wildfires. On the road and on our canoe route. Some areas burnt this year. The very odd fire was still smouldering. No safety issue. 

Definitely much work canoeing a 400 km circle route from the end of the road. But that worked out well in a pandemic year, logistically simple--put-in at the end of the road, travel upstream to Selwyn Lake, then downstream back to Black Lake, finishing up at Stony Rapids. 

I have wanted to follow the historical Chipman Portage route since I wrote the Tyrrell cairn book. And I like vast lakes such as Selwyn, especially those big lakes that straddle borders and have more than one watercourse exiting them. Of course, the Porcupine River has been attractive to me for many years but combining it with more travel was critical. If I have any regrets about the trip it’s that we didn’t start on the Cree River as we could have used it to get to Black Lake. Easy downstream travel on the Cree River would have been a fun warmup before the more arduous travel on the sizeable Black Lake, the lengthy uphill Chipman Portage chain and the upstream Chipman River paddle and portage. 

The best surprise was the wonderful Fond du Lac section from Black Lake to Stony Rapids. Absolutely scenic albeit massive powerful flow and a few named falls to portage.

We camped on Black Lake after finding the Chipman Portage take-out right away. Our next camp, after a refreshing swim, was on Chipman Lake. 

Weather was cool and damp on the historical upstream travel and hot on the Porcupine River. Black Lake was ideal travel conditions, a light breeze. The seldom canoed big volume section of Fond du Lac River to Stony Rapids was superbly scenery. We even stumbled upon an easy trail to portage past Woodcock Falls, the last of the big falls. 

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