Canadian Canoe Routes

Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's
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Author:  mtphoto [ May 8th, 2018, 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's

I am planning a canoe trip From Matagamasi Lake up the Wolf/Chiniguchi corridor and then following the backdoor lake route to meet the Sturgeon River at Kettle Falls. I was just wondering what people’s experience has been going down the Sturgeon to Kelly’s Portage.

I was originally thinking of travelling from Kettle Falls to the Pilgrim Triangle in a day but after reading another trip report maybe this is too ambitious. The distance only appears to be about 17k but I imagine the running, wading, lining and portaging after Poker L. make it a difficult go.

Would it be recommended to split this section in to two days? Perhaps camping at Poker L or the gorge?
I would then imagine 2 more days to travel from Pilgrims triangle to the Kelly portages. I plan to camp on Donald Lake on the way back over to Matagamasi.

If anyone has some thoughts on the timings for the Sturgeon it would be appreciated!

Author:  Eddy Turn [ May 8th, 2018, 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's

It took us 12 hours from Kettle falls to Pilgrim triangle. Surely one can do it faster than that, but it's still a long day with some tough portages. I'm not sure where's Poker lake, but the lake after canyon provides good camping, as well as the Gorge portage. From Pilgrim to Kelly's is another 12 hours in my book.

Author:  martin2007 [ May 8th, 2018, 10:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's

Good route! I did it solo in Sept. 2014 in 10 or 11 days. It could be done in less time, but I took my time and fished a lot. I started at the public launch on Matagamasi Lake and spent my 4th night on Perkins Lake a couple of Kms. down from Kettle Falls. The trip up the backdoor to Kettle is scenic and quiet. I remember there was some carrying over boulders on an old creek bed leaving the north end of Puddle Lake. Best to expect some strenuous carries with rough footing up to Kettle and down to the Pilgrim Triangle. Lots of the river was/is runnable, but I didn't keep any notes on that. Take-outs and put-ins are often very rough. Rushing this route, especially during rainy or wet times would not be a good idea. The section from Kettle to the Pilgrim Triangle took me a day and I spent time fishing en route. The campsite just prior to the 265 m portage was good, but I remember that part of it had been burned. Night # 6 had me camping at Lower Goose Falls. I enjoyed the travel through the sandy meandering stretch till the Kelly portages. Keep your eyes open for the exit. I don't remember if or how it was marked, but I do remember thinking it would be easy to paddle on by it, especially as I hadn't a firm idea how far along I'd come in the meanders. A steep sandy hill on river right. The lakes and campsites on the final stretch back to Matagamasi are wonderful, too. You probably already have them, but I'll mention them just in case you don't: Ottertooth has excellent on-line, printable maps of sections of the route, and Kevin Callan details the route in a couple of his books.

Author:  mtphoto [ May 11th, 2018, 9:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's

Eddy Turn- Thanks for your input! I think I will stay at the lake after Canyon (Poker L on Jeff's map) and then have a full day nice and rested to take my time going through the tougher area. Don't want to rush as I love to enjoy the scenery and and take photos. So 4 days to travel from Kettle Falls to Kelly's Crossover.

martin2007 - The Ottertooth maps are great! I actually was originally thinking of doing the Stouffer crossover to the Sturgeon but seeing the detailed write up on the backdoor route made me want to add it. Kettle falls looks like a beautiful spot to explore. How did you find the site at Lower Goose Falls? I see that there is road or ATV access there so was hoping to avoid it. Maybe if it's a really good site I stop there instead. Thanks for the advice for spotting the portage out. I am a little nervous about paddling by as well as I imagine you kinda zone out a bit through all the meandering.

Author:  Eddy Turn [ May 11th, 2018, 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sturgeon River: Backdoor route Kettle Falls to Kelly's

I'd avoid Lower Goose camping - there's always a good chance of meeting ATVers there. Upper Goose camping is terrific, two sites opposite each other right above the falls. You might have company there as well - it's very popular, but there will be no motors around. Kelly's portage is "marked" by sandy estuary of a small creek (at least it was 7 years ago) and high shore above it. The river makes 90 degree left turn at this point, if I'm not mistaken.

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