Canadian Canoe Routes

Onaping Figure Eight Loop
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Author:  Darl-h [ May 30th, 2017, 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Onaping Figure Eight Loop
May 15 – 21, 2017

Participants: Darryl and Rosa
Trip Report: Rosa

Map and GPS Data :

Day 1 – Go Canoeing Highway

We put in at 1:30 pm on Muldrew Lake after an uneventful drive from Toronto.
Ours the only car in the generous parking lot/camping area just off Hwy 144, our new favourite “Go Canoeing Highway”.
We checked out the first campsite (001) after heading north east on Lower Muldrew. It’s a real campsite, just not frequently used. We knew rain was in the forecast so we passed up on the next campsite (002), it has a high view with lots of exposed rock and green moss, little shelter and not so great in the rain.
The next camp is on an island, a little rough and not frequently used, well treed, sheltered and worked for us after a little trimming and cleaning. Darryl went to the opposite shore for wood. Lots of rain overnight.

Put-in - Muldrew Lake

ImageLower Muldrew

Day 2 – Lower Muldrew, Muldrew Creek, Muldrew Bay

We woke up to cold temperatures and rain, the rain eased off as we broke camp, departing straight into a cold headwind. Despite the weather, we admire the beautiful walls with plenty of craggy exposed rock.
The first portage is on river right, generously marked with flagging tape throughout. Soon after the creek does a U turn and we’re enjoying a tail wind to the next rapid.
We’re not familiar with this area and it being very cold and windy we are playing it safe and opt to take the second portage bypassing a long rapid that bends to the right and continues out of sight. Our map has the portage on river right but there’s no obvious start so we got out and went bush-whacking to find it. We may be on the wrong side of the river but we’re now fully committed since between the gusting wind and pushy current we cannot easily get ourselves to other shore. We’re not the only ones to have been caught, there’s random flagging tape deep in the bush, we resign ourselves to a nasty bush-whack portage. At one point during the second pass Darryl and I separated, he with the canoe, me trying to find better footing, we used our whistles to find each other, the gusting wind obscured the rapid’s noise and it was very disorienting. Darryl stayed put where he was while I found my way to him, Darryl was convinced that if he walked away from the canoe he would not find it again, it was that nasty in there. Next time we’re running or lining this rapid, that would have been safer and easier than what we did.
Ever so happy to get back in the water, floating with the current, with the wind at our back. We ran the next two rapids.
The logging road bridge over Muldrew Creek has been decommissioned and the ATV crowd has built an impromptu corduroy log bridge across it. It is high enough to allow paddlers to go under.
Darryl GPS'd a couple of campsites on Muldrew Creek not marked on our map.
Muldrew Bay on Onaping Lake is full of islands which made for interesting paddling through the narrow channels under the now clearing sky.
We camped on Green Bay (012) on an island campsite, sheltered from the north wind with an unobstructed view towards the south west arm of Onaping Lake, long used campsite with lots of tent pads.
Blue skies with a few puffy clouds by dinner time.

Green Bay – island campsite

View from camp

Day 3 – Onaping Dam and beyond

Lots of beautiful scenery and rock walls on the narrow Green Bay crossover past the Hole-in-the-Rock to the main body of Onaping Lake, camp scouting as we went, no sign of a campsite marked on our map on the north side of the Hole-in-the-Rock channel.
We are very lucky that yesterday’s north wind held and pushed us all the way down the lake to Onaping Dam on Turcotte Bay, making great time. We marked a few campsites not on our map.
The south end of the lake has many cottages (unlike the north end) and we’re happy to leave the lawn mowers, ATVs and chainsaws behind us.
It’s another world below the dam, paradise found, huge red pines and a lovely meandering creek. Our map has a portage before entering Kasakawawia Lake but it was plain sailing for us. We camped at a very old campsite on a small bay where the Onaping River flows out, Darryl got this information from Erhard, many Thanks. Comfy set up on a very thick and cushy layer of moss studded with little white flowers, quite entertaining to watch the hard working bumble bees going from flower to flower.

ImageOnaping Dam (far shore lined with cottages)

Below Onaping Dam

Kasakawawia Lake campsite

Day 4 – Quest for Friday Lake

It rained overnight and into the morning but it stopped as we left camp.
The logging bridge over Friday Creek has camping areas at both ends of the portage.
We lined the canoe up a couple of shallows/swifts and over partially submerged logs where a decommissioned logging road crosses the creek. Camping possible along the road on both sides of the creek. Huge groups of schooling sucker fish accompanied us along the swift flowing sections.
The wind changed overnight and we’re heading north with a tail wind, making short work of all the small lakes and up stream travel till we get to the last section before Friday Lake. The current is very swift shallowing to bouldery gravel, we could no longer paddle and scrambled ahead to scout. The creek is absolutely impassable with blowdowns at various sections and precipitous walls.
Darryl noticed that there is a logging (ATV/bush) road on our map that more or less parallels this section of the creek towards Friday Lake. We backtracked out of the creek and in vain looked for a trail to the bush road. We split up and scouted a way up to the road, it was an ugly bushwhack but the road was pretty, carpeted in dry leaves and lined with birches under a bright blue sky. There was fagging tape at the point we cut the road but we don’t think it had anything to do with canoeist. Darryl generously started lugging the gear up to the road while I walked ahead to scout a point where we could descend to Friday Lake. Once we identified the nearest point down to the lake it became straight forward to get all the gear moved and down to the water, this “bushwhack” was much shorter and simpler.
We call the last section of Friday Creek “Half-Day Creek” since you’ll need that much time to navigate around it. There should be a portage and if there is one, take it.
It was getting late and we were tired by the time we got on the water, a campsite “Pronto” is what we’re looking for. We know there are no campsites on Friday Lake but anything half decent will do.
We put-in at the small bay where the creek exits the lake and almost immediately spy a stick table built straddling two trees high on a point to our left.
An unexpected campsite complete with a big white pine at the point, just perfect for us after we do some trimming and evict a garner snake, two small tents can be set up along the ridge. Nice to relax, sheltered from the gusting wind with a clear view to observe the beavers doing laps.

Bush road portage

ImageFriday Lake – stick table that attracted our attention

Friday lake campsite

Day 5 – Friday Lake to Little Friday Lake

Big thunder and lighting storm with plenty of rain once we went to bed. We woke up to a blue sky and the wind still from the south.
We found another campsite on the east shore where the lake narrows, good for two tents with the possibility for more, burnt wood bits in the fire pit.
We took the very obvious path out of Friday Lake that goes up to a hunt camp, then turned right on a long trail down to Scotia Lake. The boat cache at the southern most end of Scotia Lake has a trail going into the bush, this is probably the “real” portage (not the path that goes past the hunt camp) but we were not ambitious enough to scout it.
Scotia Lake is gorgeous with beautiful vistas and towering rock walls, we scouted a campsite on the east shore sandy spit where the lake narrows.
The portage to Little Friday Lake was easy to find in the tiny bay were a creek flows into Scotia Lake, wide and well maintained but it seemed to go on forever, hot and humid.
We paddled on and on looking for a campsite into the now west wind and stayed at an island campsite where Little Friday Lake joins the east bay of Onaping Lake.

Scotia Lake

Little Friday campsite – looking west to Onaping

Day 6 – Buckets of Rain

Hot and humid overnight with another thunder/lightning/rain storm, we woke up to thick fog.
We could hear voices, eventually a dot on the water that moved towards us, a canoe.
Funny to hear our camp described from afar, even referred to as possible squatters because our canoe was not visible (it was, but it blends in). It was Mike and Mark (from the Hamilton area and recently retired) at the beginning of a two week trip going on to Scotia Lake, then down the Wanapitei River, jumping across to the Sturgeon River, ending at River Valley, single carrying all the portages with a food resupply along the way. Sounds like a great trip.
We left under a bright blue sky and weaved through many channels and beautiful islands, one of them had a “super” campsite, huge and sheltered with great views. We marked several other campsites.
The clouds rolled in and the wind turned to north, fine for us as we headed south back through the Hole-in-the-Rock, Green Bay and south towards Fairbairn Lake, it got colder and colder.
The rain caught up with us before we got to camp on Fairbairn but abated long enough for us to set up shelter and scout for wood.
Another thunder and lighting storm hit with a vengeance, this time with never ending buckets of rain.
So happy for our wood burning stove, Darryl would scurry out to process some of the wood whenever there was a slight easing of the rain.
Yesterday felt like summer, today winter in fighting back, brrr....
So lucky it was a short day and we made an early camp.

“COLD” - scratched on the frosted canoe

Fairbairn Lake – view from campsite

Day 7 - Twisted Lake

Very cold overnight. Darryl had a hard time opening the frozen tent fly zipper.
We departed under a brilliant blue sky with the north wind at our backs.
The beavers have abandoned their dams on Fairbairn Creek, we saw no sign of the first portage and had barely enough water to float through the narrow sections up to the second portage. On the next portage at the start of the trail, there’s a campsite on the grassy area by the incoming creek, very pretty.
The last portage into Twisted Lake is short and also well maintained. There’s a “hidden” campsite on Twisted Lake overlooking the out flowing creek (short paddle from the portage), we paddled on and stayed at the island campsite, small but surprisingly nice. In the sunshine, well drained and sheltered from the gusting wind.

Twisted Lake – island campsite

Twisted Lake – hanging out

Day 8 – Return to Muldrew

We made our way out of Twisted Lake and across the short portage into McDougall Lake under blue skies.
It took us a while to find the portage out of McDougall since we mistook a campsite (not marked on our map) as the start of the portage. We realized our mistake right away, still it took a while to locate the boggy start of the portage. It’s a long but wide and well maintained trail, by the sled crowd from the scrape evidence on rocks and roots. There’s a section of moss covered huge round rocks, the pointy rock hop, the mandatory bog walk, and even an Algonquinesque foot trail section somewhere in the middle. No bugs.
Once back to Muldrew Lake we paddled north (now with a south wind) paralleling Hwy 144, we know it’s there but we can’t hear it, we also mark a few campsites not on our map.
It’s a gorgeous day and we’re not ready to go home so we made our way to campsite 001 which we scouted on our first day out.
The bugs found us as we cleaned up the site and set up camp.
Very entertaining to watch the various motorized put-puts go by (it’s the start of the long weekend) with 2-4 people each for some fishing down by the rapids. Later we saw them all return.

Back to Muldrew Lake

Day 9 – Paddle out

The rain started overnight and persisted all the way to the take out. The wind still from the south and at our backs, so no big deal.
A week ago, ours was the only car in the parking lot, now there’s a minor pop-up village complete with dogs and children.
We loved the area and will return, skipping the south end of Onaping Lake (too many cottages) and Friday Lake (not worth the effort).
Good luck Mike and Mark on your very excellent adventure.

We’re not alone

Author:  Stajanleafs [ May 30th, 2017, 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop


That lake on Friday Creek has a landing on the Mid-southeast end. The ATV trail extends all the way to a beach landing. About 200m further than from where you bushwhacked down.

The portage into Scotia is on the right side. But the ATV trail on the left through the hunt camp is a nice option too!

Interesting to see all the other camping options we missed on our jaunt through there!

Author:  Darl-h [ May 30th, 2017, 11:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

We had plenty of rain, but most of it overnights, so clear days and a slower pace of travel lets us do what we call 'perimeter paddling' checking things out as we go, leading to old campsite finds.

Rosa was happy not to have to walk the swamp in Fairbairn creek, with a line on the boat I could walk the boat up to the beaver dam. The May water is high which is great, but cold - not something to walk in for very long.

The ATV access heading to Friday is good to know, I hope other trippers pay heed to your comment.

Author:  Canoeheadted [ May 30th, 2017, 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Thanks for the trip.

After experiencing our first winter with a heated tipi I'm sure we'll be bringing the stove on paddles too. This way we can have more "smoke free" heat when things aren't the nicest.

Author:  gnatwest [ May 31st, 2017, 8:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Canoeheadted wrote:
Thanks for the trip.

After experiencing our first winter with a heated tipi I'm sure we'll be bringing the stove on paddles too. This way we can have more "smoke free" heat when things aren't the nicest.

Be careful with the stove. My first trip with it damaged by canoe, the corners put too much force into the canoe. Now I will have it wrapped in foam before putting it in the boat.

Author:  Canoeheadted [ May 31st, 2017, 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Good idea to pack so nothing gets damaged.

Our stove breaks down and fits inside an internal pack for it's protection.

Author:  katekate [ June 3rd, 2017, 9:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Nice write up, map is especially appreciated to better get a sense of the route. Those photos make me want to find some rocky cliffs to drift by!

Sounds like a great prebug season opener, the wood stove mantis perfect piece of gear for chilly wet weather and icy winds.

Never thought of using whistles on bush whack portages but makes a lot of sense especially when only the two of you.

Keep calm and paddle on!

Author:  martin2007 [ June 3rd, 2017, 9:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

Great report! Your heated shelter looks really good. What's the tarp called, and did you customize it or buy it with the stovepipe hole already in place? Was there a reason you opted to bring a tent as well? I can relate to the uneasy feeling of being unable to locate your boat on a bushwhack. I had a brief__but still all too long__moment of panic at ice-out this year solo-ing during a hellishly sinister mix of snow and rain. I'd bushwhacked my way to a flooded take-out but then on the return trip missed locating my boat with all my gear in it that I'd secured at the water's edge. I had pulled the boat up high enough, hadn't I? And tied it, right? At least I was pretty sure I'd secured it... I then quickly envisioned the unthinkable: that somehow I hadn't adequately secured the boat and it had somehow picked itself up and gone swimming downriver. Horrible feeling followed by frantic searching along a difficult shoreline. Found her one long adrenaline-filled minute later. She was right where I'd left her, of course. I proceeded to experience an emotion that poets would surely have described as "ecstasy". :)

Author:  Darl-h [ June 4th, 2017, 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

@ Martin, the shelter is the Mantis tarp

We (Rosa) sewed the stove jack in. Our particular stove is from

We bring the tent, which is nicely compact, because the shelter does fine in slightly uneven ground or even sloped, whereas we do enjoy using more level ground for sleeping. The Mantis Tarp is not truly bug-proof, and sideways rain can dampen things as well, not great for our down sleeping bags.

Author:  Steve E [ July 11th, 2017, 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Onaping Figure Eight Loop

That looks amazing! Is this area Crown Land?

Thanks for sharing!

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