Spanish to Whitefish Falls

CanadaOntarioGeorgian Bay coast
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Michael Kerwin
Trip Date : 
August 27-September 10, 2022
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
60 km
Duration: 
5 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Portaging: 
Not applicable
Remoteness: 
Novice
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Spanish River Resort and Campground, formerly Mitchells Fishing Camp. 69 Colonization Road, Spanish, ON P0P 2A0. Telephone 705-844-2202.

Technical Guide: 

No

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

The trip can be done in 4 ½ travel days averaging 16 km/day under favourable weather conditions. We took 15 days to do the trip to allow for exploring, fishing, swimming, and hiking. The car shuttle from Spanish to Whitefish Falls can be done in just under two hours. The trip can be extended to Killarney, ON adding 40 km and 3 days; however, the car shuttle from Spanish to Killarney is 216 km (2 hr. 23 min) one way.

This was an exploratory trip in which I collected as much information as possible regarding campsites and points of interest -- weather and travel conditions permitting. This is not an exhaustive list of all possible campsites or points of interest along the route and ratings are purely subjective. Great La Cloche Island is privately owned and is posted no camping/trespassing. Despite the plethora of crown land islands along this route, many are unsuitable for camping due to the rugged, often heavily fissured nature of the bedrock.

PUT-IN. Spanish River Resort and Campground, formerly Mitchells Fishing Camp. 69 Colonization Road, Spanish, Ontario P0P 2A0. Phone 705-844-2202.  Parking is available ($10/day as of August 2022).

WILFRID ISLAND. Information provided by Spanish River Resort and Campground (SRRC) states that there is a campsite on this island.

SHANLEY ISLAND. Information provided by Spanish River Resort and Campground (SRRC) states that there is a campsite on this island.

CAMERON BIGHT, AIRD ISLAND. Grid reference 93313. Latitude 46° 8’ 48.2994”  Longitude 82° 22’ 55.8084”. GPS coordinates 17 T 393139 5111091. Site is located on bedrock and is close to put-in at Spanish River Resort and Campground. This site is close to Little Detroit.

SAMPSON ISLANDS. Grid reference 948098. Latitude 46° 7’ 54.7572”    Longitude 82° 21’ 45.1764”. GPS coordinates not recorded. Note: location is approximate. This is a small, somewhat rough island that could be used as a campsite if needed.

CROOKS ISLAND. Grid reference 088973. Latitude 46° 7’ 31.0008”    Longtitude 82° 19’ 49.5948”. GPS coordinates not recorded. This is a not so pretty, well-used site which has suffered abuse from previous campers who have left garbage behind. This is unfortunate as the island has a nice, small sand beach with access to deep water.

EAGLE ISLAND LUNCH SPOT. While Eagle Island’s north shore appeared to be devoid of campsites, there is a pleasant lunch spot located at GPS coordinates 17 T 399801 5107872.

FOX HARBOUR. Three campsites were noted. SITE 1: Grid reference 069037. Latitude 46° 6’ 31.9674”  Longitude 82° 14’ 47.184”. GPS coordinates 17 T 403663 5106908. A lovely site, this is the smallest and is, perhaps, the least used of the three sites noted at Fox Harbour. The site is exposed to south southeast winds. SITE 2. Grid reference 036069. Latitude 46° 6’ 33.3462”   Longitude 82° 14’ 54.4848”. GPS coordinates 17 T 403521 5106943. This is a well-used but well-cared for large campsite with several level sites for tents. The site is located on the ridge of the western arm of Fox Harbour, however, access to the site is from the protected small bay on the west arm of Fox Harbour. The site is the best protected of the three campsites at Fox Harbour. SITE 3. Grid reference 038065. Latitude 46° 6’ 18.9432”  Longitude 82°  14’ 39.033”. GPS coordinates not recorded. The site is the largest of three sites at Fox Harbour – it is huge with different, relatively private areas to choose from.  A lovely site, it is, perhaps, the most used. The site is exposed to south southwest winds.

NORTH BENJAMIN ISLAND. Two possible campsites were noted but not investigated. Locations are approximate. The Benjamin Islands are noted for their rock formations. SITE 1. Grid reference 049035. Latitude 46° 5’ 29.0076”  Longitude 82° 14’ 54.6318. GPS coordinates not recorded. SITE 2. Grid reference 029049. Latitude 46° 5’ 26.97”  Longitude 82° 15’ 20.8938”.  GPS coordinates not recorded. This very small site is located on a small beach and will be affected by water levels.

FOX ISLAND, NORTH SHORE. Grid reference 058079. Latitude 46° 7’ 6.0564” Longitude 82° 13’ 5.9046. GPS coordinates 17 T 405828 5107893. The site is on a small point with a very small protected bay on the north shore of Fox Island about half way between Bower Rock to the west and Jones Point to the east. NOTE: our tent was pitched near a dead jackpine – a potential hazard. The site is exposed to prevailing winds although the wooded area behind our tents was suitable for setting up a tarp and was relatively protected.

CROKER ISLAND. Campsites are reported to be found on the east shore of the island, however, this was not verified. 

MCBEAN HARBOUR. Grid reference 079095. Latitude 46° 7’ 54.2238” Longitude 82° 11’ 30.1344”. GPS coordinates not taken. McBean Harbour has road access; as such it could be used as a point of egress in case of emergency. It is part of Sagamok 5 Indian Reserve. 

MCTAVISH ISLAND. Campsites are reported to be found on the north shore of the island, however, this was not verified. 

UNNAMED ISLAND WEST OF MATHESON ISLAND. Grid reference 154054. Latitude 46° 5’ 49.4154” Longitude 82° 5’ 40.9992”. GPS coordinates 17 T 415369 5105417. This site looks idyllic from the water: an inviting small sand beach and even two swings hanging from tree branches. However, we did not stop to investigate further. If nothing else, it would likely make a lovely lunch spot.

MATHESON ISLAND. Grid reference 160053. Latitude 46° 5’46.0926”     Longitude 82° 5’ 13.653”. GPS coordinates 17 T 415960 5105299. Although much of the island consists of broken or heavily fissured rock, the tenting area consists in part of gravel, grass and lichen. The site is approximately 1.85 km south of the Fort La Cloche access points. The view to the west comprising small islands and to the north with the La Cloche Mountains is excellent.

FORT LA CLOCHE. Grid reference 169073. Latitude 46° 6’47.8434”     Longitude 82° 4’ 35.5908”. GPS coordinates 17 T 417207 5106124. Fort La Cloche was the site of a Hudson Bay Post until 1919. The original site of the post is now occupied by a former Junior Ranger building. Fort La Cloche is the western access point to the Heaven’s Gate Trail. The trail may be accessed by crossing the foot bridge and following the trail blazes. The trail is 40 kilometres long ending in Willisville to the east. A pleasant day hike can be done from here offering a panoramic view of the North Channel. 

UNNAMED ISLAND. Grid reference 172062. Latitude 46° 6’ 14.3598”    Longitude 82° 4’ 17.7522”. GPS coordinates 17 T 417207 5106124. This location is a very heavily used beach site. If you like camping on sand, it would be quite nice if not for the abuse the site has suffered. On the positive side, it does provide closer access to Fort La Cloche.

HOG ISLAND. Two campsites were noted, one at the western tip and one at the eastern tip of the island. NOTE: positions are approximate. SITE 1. Grid reference 173047. Latitude 46° 5’ 27.762”  Longitude 82° 4’ 9.8796”. GPS coordinates not recorded. SITE 2. Grid reference 183043. Latitude 46°.087623 Longitude 82°.055674. GPS coordinates not recorded.

MUSSEL BEACH. Grid reference 211055. Latitude 46° 5’ 58.1”   Longitude 82° 1’ 19.2”. GPS coordinates not recorded. 

LOUISA ISLAND. SITE 1. Grid reference 033212. Latitude 46° 4’ 44.8602”    Longitude 82° 1’9.6394”. GPS coordinates not recorded. SITE 2. Grid reference 220033. Latitude 46° 4’ 42.5964”    Longitude 82° 0’ 34.005”. There is a very nice looking beach in this bay. Tent sites were not verified but the area looks very promising. GPS coordinates not recorded.

FISH FARM, EASTERN ISLAND. A commercial fish farm is located at 033257 (latitude 46° 4’ 45.0402”, longitude 81° 57’ 36.867”) in the La Cloche Channel. It is one of eight netcage fish farming operations in the North Channel and waters surrounding Manitoulin Island. We had been warned to avoid the area due to foul water; however, no issues were encountered in passing at a distance of approximately 1.5 km on September 4, 2022.

WRIGHT’S LAKE LANDING. Grid reference 298051. Latitude 46° 5’ 43.9866”    Longitude 81° 54’ 26.4456”. GPS coordinates not recorded. Wright’s Lake Landing is just over a kilometre west of Flat Point. “Take the trail here uphill to Wright’s Lake. Mr. Wright homesteaded here in the 1800s and grew strawberries which he took to Little Current by rowboat. If you hunt around, you can find the site of his cabin, the chimney may still be standing. He dammed the creek -- you can still see the dam up at the lake -- to provide water for his garden. Be aware [of] the poison ivy!... The trail meets Heaven’s Gate Trail at the lake.” [Note courtesy of Z. Shewchuk.]

UNNAMED ISLAND. Grid reference 330047. Latitude 46° 5’ 33.867”  Longitude 81° 52’ 0.0696”.GPS coordinates not recorded. We nicknamed this island, “Scat” or “Pothole Island” for the numerous signs of each that we found. Several potholes can be found along the northwest shore of the small bay that separates both halves of the island. There are camps in the vicinity. The closest camp is located on the southern half of the island which is separated from the northern half by an isthmus. It is not known if the entire island is privately owned or just the southern portion. The area where we camped was not signed. The camp to the south was not occupied September 4, 2022; during the height of summer, however, it might be best to avoid this campsite.

WELLS ISLAND. Grid reference 347023. Latitude 46° 4’ 14.505”  Longitude 81° 50’ 38.7924”. GPS coordinates not recorded. A bit rough at first glance, this turned out to be a lovely site, very private, and well-protected from the wind. The site is likely used by hunters; it is equipped with a tree stand, box privy, and several U-bolts that have been cemented into the bedrock as mooring points. Areas for tenting are well-spaced apart.

UNNAMED ISLAND ADJACENT TO NORTH SHORE OF WELLS ISLAND. Grid reference 362032. Latitude 46° 4’ 43.7412”    Longitude 81° 49’ 31.6236. GPS coordinates not recorded. This small island appears to be suitable as a campsite.

UNNAMED ISLAND. Grid reference not recorded. Latitude and longitude not recorded. GPS coordinates 17 T 442148 5103832. The campsite is located in the area between Moose Point to the northeast, Haystack Harbour to the east, and Bear Island to the northwest. It looks to be suitable for a campsite. The site did not appear particularly scenic and the waters in this portion of Bay of Islands are, generally, shallow. In its favour, however, is the site’s close proximity to the take-out in Whitefish Falls. 

TOWN OF WHITEFISH FALLS: TAKE-OUT. Two marinas are located in Whitefish Falls: (1) Hilly Acres Camp & Trailer Park on river left which is the marina that we used), (2) J & G Marina & Confectionary on river right. Hilly Acres Camp & Trailer Park. 1049 South River Road, Whitefish Falls, Ontario P0P 2H0. Phone  705-285-4226. Parking is available ($7/day as of August 2022).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Spanish 41-J/1 Whitefish Falls 41-I/4
Other
Suggested Resource Material: 

Brazer, Marjorie Cahn. Well-favoured passage: exploring the water, land and history of Lake Huron’s North Channel. 1975.

Gutsche, Andrea. The North Channel and St. Mary’s River: a guide to the history. 1997.

 

Special Comments: 

The route follows an easterly direction from the town of Spanish to Whitefish Falls. Close attention must be paid to the topo maps to avoid becoming confused among the myriad of islands particularly in the Bay of Islands. Be prepared for windbound days. Caution must be exercised when making the many open water crossings found along this route.

 

 

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