Canadian Canoe Routes

Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River
Page 1 of 1

Author:  CameronCJN [ June 13th, 2020, 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

COVID-19 set quite the damper on most people’s camping plans. With the Ontario government’s long-awaited announcement to lift the crown land camping ban, my plans to kick off the canoeing season almost immediately began. I reached out to Brad (Stajanleafs) as I knew he was just about as eager as I was to work something out. The very first weekend after the ban was lifted, we set out to paddle the Larder River, located East of Kirkland Lake.

The Larder River is featured in an old MNR canoe route map. The route is also featured on Jeff’s Temagami map which helped as a planning resource for the route. The northern section of the river (up to Wendigo Lake) is within the boundaries of Larder River provincial park, so we were reasonably certain any portages would be relatively maintained and accessible. The river beyond Wendigo Lake, however, was more uncertain and had achieved somewhat of a “lost route” status.


Day 1 | June 5 2020 | 14 km

The first hour and a half of paddling took the four of us seven kilometers in a light drizzle across Larder Lake to the mouth of the Larder River. Further paddling took us to a dam which required a short portage. The dam unfortunately limited the flow of the river to such a degree that any rapids downstream were simply a trickle.

The disappointingly shallow rapids set a bit of a precedent for our outlook on this trip; after all, we expected to at least hit some whitewater, not paint rocks and dent canoes. After four or so sets of shallow rapids, the disappointment quickly faded as we approached what might be one of the most impressive views I’ve seen so far in my canoeing; a massive cascade composed of three equally stunning features. A massive water slide, flanked by a beautiful narrow gorge which transitions into a waterfall leading into Raven Lake. It was perfect.

myccr1 (day 1).jpg

These features could obviously not be paddled, so a portage down was necessary. Fortunately for us, the river right side of the waterslide was bare rock which made the portage easy, albeit relatively slippery with the ongoing drizzle.

With only about an hour left of daylight, the gang had decided to camp next to the gorge and waterfall on the edge of Raven Lake. It made for an awesome campsite, probably one of the best I’ve stayed at. The rain picked up speed shortly after we set up camp, so we huddled inside Brad’s bug shelter and ate a late dinner. Shortly after the rain stopped and we were able to make a fire.

myccr2 (day 1).jpg

Nearby the campsite, stationed river left of the mouth of the last waterfall is a ~100 year old hydroelectric power station which would have historically serviced three gold mines in the area. We took the time to explore the fascinating find: a decaying concrete structure with exposed rebar, stave pipe pillars, a massive busted ring gear, chopped up piping, and red bricks scattered throughout.

myccr3 (day 1).jpg

Day 2 | June 6 2020 | 24 km

The crew woke up later than expected (around 9:30) and spent the morning making breakfast, taking pictures, exploring the area, and generally lollygagging. We spent a fair amount of time in the morning to really appreciate the amazing campsite we stumbled upon the night prior. Around noon we pressed on and began paddling for the day. Fortunately for us, Raven Lake and its tributaries introduce a large volume of water into the river system, which gave us confidence that we would get to run some real whitewater further on.

After checking out some towering cliffs on Raven Lake, we headed downriver and approached a portage ahead of Corset Falls located on river right. Before the falls is a weir followed by a short set of shallow rapids (probably CII) and then a pool which shortly turns into Corset Falls; Brad and I quickly ran the set of rapids (nearly fumbling it the first time as it was more shallow than expected) and then portaged around Corset Falls.
This portage revealed another hydroelectric generating station, this one appearing much more recently built (albeit long abandoned). We explored the area and ate lunch, and then started paddling once again.

myccr5 (day 2).jpg

A CI exists between Corset and Ward lake which was ran with no issues for the water level at the time. After travelling the length of Ward Lake, the paddler is rewarded with several CI and CII rapids dotted down the length of the river, all of which can be ran with relative ease with the exception of the first set of the Flat Rapids (located at the river entry point to Skead Lake), which is a likely CII+/CIII and should only be run by experienced paddlers.

myccr4 (day 2).jpg

After running the series of the Flat Rapids, we collectively set our sights on camping at the waterfall located at the southern end of Skead Lake (First Falls). Unfortunately, the area has seen frequent use and the existing campsite was trashed with multiple fire pits, beer cans nailed to trees, and other neglect. The group had decided to head back up Skead Lake to one of the many viable campsites scattered along the lake; ours was located on the southwestern shore upon a flat rocky mossy outcrop. The campsite was perfectly located to view the moon as it slowly rose from the eastern edge of the treeline.

myccr6 (day 2).jpg

Day 3 | June 06 2020 | ~33 km

We left the campsite at Skead Lake at around 9:30, portaged over First Falls into Wendigo Lake, and began the paddle down into the Northern End of Wendigo Lake. The entire western shore of this section of the lake contains numerous cliffs topped with an impressive jackpine forest. Towards the southern end of this section, the lake narrows (forming a swift) and opens back up again to form the lower section of Wendigo Lake. This section of lake contains an equally impressive number of cliffs, however, also contains many camps and cottages.

Entering the eastern narrow section of Wendigo Lake takes the paddler to the edge of Wendigo Falls. A portage located on the right shore follows an ATV trail and eventually turns left to enter a small pool at the foot of Wendigo Falls. The gang ate lunch at this pool, going on to explore the base of Wendigo Falls. After the pool, there is a fun multi-channel CII that can be run; we chose the right channel, however, the left channel can probably be run if desired.

Further down the river (after passing a simple swift), the confusingly-named Fourth Falls was reached. This waterfall was, at this point in the trip, probably the most grandiose of them all. A faint portage on river left was found and cleaned up for better access. The portage trail is quite steep, so we had decided that portaging over the rocky section on the left of the falls would be easier (if the rocks were wet, we would recommend taking the freshly cut trail).

myccr7 (day 3).jpg

Shortly after Fourth Falls, we came across another smaller waterfall, this one unnamed. We were able to find a faint portage trail cut out of an ATV trail on the river left near the edge of the falls. The portage abruptly ends at a small pool, which flows over a small ledge that can be run.

Next, we approached debatably the most impressive feature of the entire trip: Teddy’s Falls. Teddy’s falls is separated into two sections, the first being a gnarly CIII or CIII+ at the top, which trickles down into the second section, a massive vertical drop several meters tall. Brad and I debated on running the top of the falls as there is one or two opportunities to eddy out before the more difficult rapids, however the chance of us filling up the open canoes and dumping was pretty high. We decided against it.

We were able to find some faint trails by exploring the right side of the top section of Teddy’s falls where we presumed the portage would be. However, the trails seemingly led to nowhere and there was no obvious portage. It didn’t help that the right side of the waterfall is surrounded by a near-vertical drop that necessarily had to be portaged around. Fortunately for us, part of the near vertical drop was a sand bank, which allowed us to easily and safely rope down the two canoes approximately three stories to the pool at the base of the Falls below. Paddling into the misty air at the base of Teddy’s Falls was a welcomed reward for a relatively difficult portage.

myccr8 (day 3).jpg

Pressing approximately three kilometers further, we approached Court Rapids. The top section of Court Rapids could be lined and portaged on the left to get over the major drop approximately halfway down, and then the rest can be run as a simple CII. We encountered some friendly fishermen who enjoyed watching us bomb the rapids.

Several kilometers downriver we reached the last major rapid of the trip: Garnett`s Rapids. We were not able to locate a portage for these rapids, however the far right side of the falls contains a nice rock to land the canoe and lift over. We were able to gain some elevation by bushwacking up the hill on river right to scout the rapids and we determined they were runnable, although with the size of the drop and wavetrain after, we would likely fill up the open canoes. Probably a CIII. Brad and I ran the set twice with both canoes and took on lots of water, but no dumping.

myccr9 (day 3).jpg

Garnett`s rapids represented the last taste of whitewater we would have on this trip. As we paddled the four or so kilometers to the Blanche River, and thus the end of the trip, we reminisced about all the cool things that we did and saw throughout the weekend: the falls, amazing campsites, great food and company, wicked portaging, the rush of running rapids, abandoned powestations; the list goes on. Near the confluence at the Blanche River, we spotted a Bald Eagle fly up in front of us and disappear over the treeline. Where it launched from the water around the bend, it had dropped a wing feather which we found floating in the water. The irony of discussing how perfect this trip was immediately before we witnessed this was honestly, quite moving.

Despite this being a quickly-thrown-together weekend trip, I am willing to bet that this is probably the most beautiful and rewarding canoe trip I will do this year. It's going to be hard to top this.

Thanks for checking out my report!

Author:  mtphoto [ June 13th, 2020, 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Looks like some incredible scenery through there and some exciting rapids. Seems like it is kind of forgotten up there on the edge of the map.

Thank you for sharing!

Author:  Canoe Daddy [ June 17th, 2020, 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Great trip report. thanks for sharing!

Another one, I'd like to add to the bucket list by the looks of it! Would this route be possible later in the year? I guess it depends on the dam outflow coming out of Larder?

Author:  CameronCJN [ June 17th, 2020, 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Canoe Daddy wrote:
Great trip report. thanks for sharing!

Another one, I'd like to add to the bucket list by the looks of it! Would this route be possible later in the year? I guess it depends on the dam outflow coming out of Larder?

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, the route is definitely possible later in the year. A large portion of the river is composed of longer lakes which narrow and constrict at either end into swifts and rapids; you would have no issues paddling the lakes. The rapids, on the other hand, may be unrunnable depending on the water level. A few of the rapids were quite deep and may be doable year-round, however many of them were also quite shallow.

The good news is most of the rapids above wendigo falls have portages in fairly decent condition, and rapids that don't can easily be lined or waded if necessary. As long as you have those skills it shouldn't be an issue. if you're going to paddle beyond Wendigo falls to the Blanche River, then water level doesn't make a difference as you'd be portaging many of the river features anyways.

Author:  Stajanleafs [ June 18th, 2020, 8:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Nice write-up man! Was a great trip! A gorgeous area that more paddlers should add to their 'must paddle' list.

For anyone interested in a short video of the trip, I put out out a 1min teaser. I'll post the full video TR once complete in a separate thread.

Author:  Canoe Daddy [ June 18th, 2020, 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Amazing Video as usual, Brad! Looks like an amazing route. Not sure I could get up there until the summer though. Wonder what water levels would be like. Forgot the spray deck on this one?

Author:  cheryl [ June 19th, 2020, 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Excellent Fun! Where did you take out?

Author:  Redrover99 [ June 19th, 2020, 12:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

And... where did you put in? How long was the shuttle?

Author:  CameronCJN [ June 19th, 2020, 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Redrover99 wrote:
And... where did you put in? How long was the shuttle?

Put in was via a small bush road located a few kilometres east of Larder Lake (the town), which intersects Larder Lake (the lake) about halfway down. The bush road isnt in the greatest shape, however I was able to get a beater ford focus down it with no issues.

Shuttle was approximately 30-35 minutes.


cheryl wrote:
Excellent Fun! Where did you take out?

Take out was a couple hundred meters downriver after the Blanche River/Larder River confluence. There is a bridge that features a relatively accessible boat launch with space to park a vehicle.


Links to the FTP directory of the two 1:50 000 topo maps required for this trip are below for reference:

32 D/04:
31 M/13:

Author:  Redrover99 [ June 19th, 2020, 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Larder River: from Larder Lake to the Blanche River

Very good info. Thank you!

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group