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PostPosted: October 29th, 2015, 1:49 pm 
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Hi all,

This coming summer I am considering doing a three week trip through the Algoma Headwaters Signature Site and surrounding area. I wanted to glean as much information about the area as I can to help me better plan the trip. Firstly does anyone know where I could get detailed maps of the area, that include portages etc? I own Kallan's guide book that includes the Ranger Lake loop, but I would like to go north from Megisan into Gord and Lance lakes and maybe west into Firetrail and south through Nushatogaini Lake? The other idea I've had is to go up through Megisan into Gord and find a way to the headwaters of the Batchawana river. Any expererience, information or advice about this area or otherwise is more than welcomed. As an aside I have tripping and whitewater experience in Temagami, Killarney and Algonquin so I believe I am up for the difficulty. Thanks in advance! :D


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PostPosted: October 29th, 2015, 6:11 pm 
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Beautiful area. I did the Ranger Lake loop in early spring 2013, just after ice-out. Did a lot of work to make the portages somewhat passable from Island Lake to Gong and up the W. Aubinadong to Megisan Lake. Carries to Prairie Grass were doable. The Nushatogaini was a mess--lots of log jams and no defined portages...first part is good then it gets very tedious. It was nice to make a loop but I don't think I would do it again.

There were portages up from Megisan to Gord, Nokomis and Lance when I was there 15 years ago. Gary and Joanie McGuffin paddled from Megisan to the headwaters of the Montreal River on their "Ancient Forest" trip in 1997. They did lots of bushwhacking. Linking to the upper Batch would be cool but I imagine it would be quite challenging (likely no trails), and you'd want to do it in early spring. Bring an axe, saw and a first aid kit!

As for maps, I haven't found anything. Callan's maps were good for the W. Aubinadong but pretty much useless for the Nushatogaini. However, from the topos you can guess where the portages should be.

The signature site is spectacular and I wish more people would come paddle here, but I think with the gravel roads and lousy Ontario Parks promotion, it's practically been forgotten.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: October 29th, 2015, 6:42 pm 
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Thanks Greenlander! Sounds like you had a great trip through the area, its good that there are people willing to put some time in and clear portages for other people that come later. The area really does look amazing, from what little information I can find out about it. It was the McGuffin's book that peaked my interest. From their book it does sound like a challanging route but to me that makes it all the more interesting.

Would your advice be to print off googles topo map of the area or would you recommend a different source? I thought it looked difficult to get to the headwaters of the Batch, its pretty far. It does not look like there is not quite enough water to make a loop around the top of the Signature site from Lance Lk to Firetrail Lk and then down to Nushatogaini. What do you think? I would imagine that the Northeast section of the park would be very untouched.

Any other advice you have would be great and thanks for your reply!


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 8:19 am 
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I used the 1:50,000 NTS maps and supplemented with a custom map produced by a local (SSM) forestry company called Mitig. You should be able to find them online; they produce 1:20,000 maps of individual townships or 1:50,000 maps centred on the township of your choice. Unfortunately they don't have portages marked.

At first glance, most likely way to Firetrail would be heading out of Gord. There was a decent, 800-m portage to the lake immediately east of Gord (I forget the name of the lake); no idea if there's anything beyond that, but at least it would give you a start. From Google Earth the upper Nush looks navigable but I think you'd want to have really high water.

Air Dale used to operate an outpost fly in camp on Gord Lake but I think it has been abandoned. You'll encounter another abandoned lodge on Megisan and a partially finished outpost camp (abandoned) on Affleck Lake, just west of Megisan. There's an active outpost camp on Prairie Grass Lake.

The other option would be to head west, aiming for Poetry Lake and the headwater of the Goulais River. Once upon a time there were likely all sorts of links and crossovers up there. Things were better when the traplines were active but the guy who had the line around Torrance/Megisan gave it up five years ago and I don't think anyone has taken over.

Lots of neat ideas but I'm afraid without a chainsaw and lots of time you're going to have a whole lot of heavy duty bushwhacking. The route from Ranger to Megisan is hard enough.


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 8:32 am 
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The portage I mentioned out of Gord actually goes South to Hail Lake. It was a good trail when I was there in 2000.

This is a good resource for maps (make your own):

https://www.ontario.ca/page/topographic-maps

3 portages from Gord to Nokomis (heading N-NW), then 1 to Lance. McGuffin route bushwhacked from Lance to Flange Lake on the Cow/Montreal River.

I am trying to figure out a link from the Cow/Montreal to the Batchawana River...now that the ACR passenger train is history looking for ways to get on the rivers without pounding the logging roads. Even better would be a to figure out a direct route from the Aubinadong headwaters to the upper Batch, as you suggested.


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 12:45 pm 
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I did the "Ranger Lake" loop (but not some of the lakes you are suggesting) in July. My trip report is here: http://www.myccr.com/canoeroutes/ranger-lake-route

I included some GPS co-ordinates for portage locations. Most of them were pretty obvious going in the direction I did, but the one I could not find was from Mystery Lake to Gong, which brings me to:

Greenlander wrote:
Did a lot of work to make the portages somewhat passable from Island Lake to Gong and up the W. Aubinadong to Megisan Lake.


Greenlander- is there actually a portage from Mystery Lake to Gong? (Apart from the one I cut?)

I searched and searched for that portage...


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 1:05 pm 
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The Mystery to Gong portage was one of the best, most obvious trails when I did the trip 2013.

It starts just north of a wetland area in the NW end of Mystery. Kind of a soggy landing with a birch/poplar forest just inland, if I remember right. The trail is <150 m. Looked to be used by anglers coming over from Gong.

For me, the worst portages were (1) Saymo to Island (we bush crashed to the south end of Island rather than following the long road and (2) Second portage heading out of Megisan towards Prairie Grass. Can't forget about the ones on the lower Nush, which were brutal.


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 4:43 pm 
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Greenlander the link to make your own topo map is great, Im just looking at it now. If you look at the satelite images of the Headwaters it looks like there is a small stream/river that leaves Nokomis lake, heads south, connects with a logging road (through Jog Lk) that would provide a straight shot to the upper batchawana. Looks like there are a ton of chutes/falls along its upper course (the satelite imagery of alot of it is extremely detailed surprisingly). You are definitly right, Greenlander, you would need really high water to do it but if you could it would be an epic trip. It looks even more difficult to find a way into Firetrail Lk though. I wonder how long the trip would take starting from Ranger Lk and finishing in Superior using the upper Batch?

Brad I remember reading your trip log not too long ago. I found it really informative, I've been thinking about about getting out to this area for awhile.


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2015, 4:46 pm 
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Greenlander wrote:
The Mystery to Gong portage was one of the best, most obvious trails when I did the trip 2013.

It starts just north of a wetland area in the NW end of Mystery. Kind of a soggy landing with a birch/poplar forest just inland, if I remember right. The trail is <150 m. Looked to be used by anglers coming over from Gong.

For me, the worst portages were (1) Saymo to Island (we bush crashed to the south end of Island rather than following the long road and (2) Second portage heading out of Megisan towards Prairie Grass. Can't forget about the ones on the lower Nush, which were brutal.


Strange. I feel like I searched high and low for that that Gong/Mystery portage. Your mention of the one between Megisan and Prairie Grass is worth noting for anyone considering the trip. It is likely mentioned elsewhere, but the elevation change at either end is pretty big.


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PostPosted: October 31st, 2015, 6:34 pm 
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The logging road would be the ticket. From my paper topos, Jog Lake drains into Farewell Creek and the Cow/Montreal River. The Batchawana takes its source well to the WSW, from what I can tell. So you'd have to hump it from Jog to the Batch via White Pine and Jack Pine roads...that's a long walk!

I paddled the upper Batch in a ww kayak about 10 years ago. Did the section in Running Township as a day trip (and 8 hours of driving on rough roads!)...there are seven big drops. I would say our takeout was about a day upstream from the ACR tracks. I've done from the ACR to Superior in 2 days.

So if by chance you could get on the upper Batch from Nokomis, maybe give 5-7 days to get down to the lake. But knowing the country up there and then (un)navigability of the creeks, the Nokomis to upper Batchawana part would be a killer.


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PostPosted: February 19th, 2018, 4:23 pm 
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For anyone with experience in this area, I'm looking for your feedback on this very basic route map.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kcpiiynw5o8g6 ... s.pdf?dl=0

The info has come from bits and pieces all over, particularly Brad's excellent report. I'm planning on doing a trip or two here this season and it seems like a great route that warrants some exploration and exposure so that it can continue to be used. So I hope to make a proper map for it eventually after getting some GPS tracks.

On one trip, I plan to get up to Lance from Megisan and back down, but as you'll see on the map, I have little information on how to get there so I'd just be guessing. Any route/portage info here would be really useful.

On the other trip I want to go east from Megisan to Nushatogaini Lake, up Nushatogaini River from the north end of the lake, bushwhack west to Firetrail Lake, back down Firetrail Creek, and then down the Nushatogaini River. Highly doubt anyone will have any info on this---it may not be possible to get to Firetrail that way---just putting it out there in case. If I only make it to Nushatogaini Lake and have to go south from there, that's okay---it has cisco for the pike and lakers to eat so I have high hopes for some big fish there.

Lastly, has anyone ever tried using the logging roads north of Ranger Lake, up to Friendly or Gong? It would be nice to skip a couple of the big lakes and the development on them (i.e. Ranger and Saymo). Plus my targets are the northern parts of Algoma Headwaters (i.e. everything north of Megisan) and I'd like to limit time spent on the southern part of the route as much as possible.

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PostPosted: February 19th, 2018, 8:35 pm 
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Jonathan,

The portage that you have drawn between Saymo and Island Lake isn't correct. Or at least that's not what I saw when I checked there carefully. Your map is similar to the information that I read from Kevin Callan. In my experience the stream leading from Gong Lake Road to Island Lake is not paddleable. You need to carry past the stream (heading out of Saymo), then take the first right up the first road. That road is the one with flooding- Gong Lake Road is okay for flooding, but was washed-out in areas. After the first right and past the flooding, there's another right that takes you down to a landing at Island Lake. Consequently, the portage is closer to 3 km than it is to 1.3 km. To (maybe) clarify, I've included an image below.

If I were doing the route again and had a car that could get down Gong Lake Road, I'd definitely drive right to Gong Lake and avoid that portage out of Saymo.

You indicated that the lodge on Gong Lake may still be active. It's almost certainly active and appeared well maintained.

The portage from Clove Lake to Lake 27 was mostly difficult due to the elevation change; otherwise it was okay/passable.

The lodge on Prarie Grass is definitely active. And there's another one just to the north of it, but across the channel.

Everything else to the south of Megasin Lake appears correct from what I remember. I don't know about anything to the north.

There's a book called "Canoe Trip 2014" that does a pretty good job describing the route as well. (http://www.blurb.ca/b/6119267-canoe-trip-2014) I think that the "preview" of the book allows you to read the whole book; or at least it used to.


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PostPosted: February 20th, 2018, 6:50 pm 
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Lol omg, I read Kevin Callan's book last spring and totally forgot that this route was in there! That sure would've been helpful. Have it in my hands now. But that's okay because my primary intention is to map the north section, so hopefully it's doable.

Anyway, more great info Brad, thanks so much. I'll update the map and repost it if my trips warrant it. I'm really hoping I can get to Gong Lake in the car, or these are going to be some long trips.

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PostPosted: June 30th, 2018, 8:45 am 
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Spent 10 nights last month going from Ranger Lake to north of Megisan via the West Aubinadong River, and back the same way. Arrived right after ice out, few bugs, perfect weather, off the charts fishing.

If anyone is looking for a (simple) map or a recent account of this wonderful destination, they are linked below.

Many thanks to Brad Thomas and Greenlander/Conor for their input on the map leading up to the trip.

Map:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ecs0amwrcmab ... AVnEa?dl=0

Video series:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hELHgceCSvM

As for access, I was in a Rav4 and tried to get to the Gong Lake access point on the forestry roads. This was a very bad idea in spring with washouts and flooding. I got stuck in mud at one point. As a result, I launched from Ranger Lake which adds a full day of travel each way. To get to Gong Lake in spring you'll need a very rugged vehicle, but I wouldn't recommend it. Could be a different story in summer after things dry up.

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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2019, 3:52 pm 
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FYI, I messaged Clergue Forest Management last week about road access to Gong Lake. This was the reply:

There has been no additional work completed on the Ranger Northeast or Domtar Roads to date. I was through there last fall and the roads are pretty rough with some washouts. The other access you are enquiring about is the Mile 38/MacDonald Creek/Mekatina Road systems which connect to the Domtar Road north of Gong Lake. The Mekatina Road section would not be passable by a car and thus not an option.

At this time, it sounds like road access to Gong Lake is out and the route can only be accessed via Ranger Lake.

Just wanted to log this info for anyone who might look into this excellent route in the future.

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