View topic - Just back from Obatanga Provincial Park and....

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PostPosted: August 30th, 2004, 1:10 pm 
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Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
Just did a exploratory trip along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Before I left I explored the possibility of canoe tripping in Obatanga Provincial Park. Bought the Christmar Map from Richard as Parks Ontario had very little information and there was only limited info on CCR. Richard, I'd be happy to toss some info on CCR if you want it.

So here you go, I spent 5 days exploring Obatanga during the earlky portion of my 3.5 week jaunt along the north shore. Despite being along Highway 17 the main campground, I was amazed how relatively underused Obatanga is. The sounds of 17 can be heard occasionally through much of the park... those darn trucks engine breaking seem pretty loud in the otherwise silence of the park. I spent several hours the first day exploring Burnfield Lake and the upper stretches of Knife Creek. The northern portion is beautiful and serene with a nice wetland in the northeastern corner and the southern half is beautiful with reeds and no acess for motorboats. The upper stretch of Knife Creek was beautiful and I wish I had time to explore that further. Ah, for another time.

The next day we explored Burnfield Creek which is a narrow meandering tributary to Burnfield Lake. The trip ewas puntuated by lots of beaver activity and one particulary nice 3.5 foot beaver dam. Then we accessed the portage from Burnfield Lake to the north to Gina Lake. The portage was a nice easy 380 meter portage that is cleared and requires no difficult maneuvering with the canoe over your head. Gina has a decent campsite and with a short portage of 190 meters from the northern tip accesses Hansel Lake Here there are two portages. We had planned to work our way down a stream/wetland to the northern tip of Cotton Lake. But found despite getting out and walking along the shore, we never spotted a way to either portage or paddle through the downfall and muck. If one really wanted to drag their canoe up and over numerous deadfall it can surely be done, but with a loaded canoe this trip might not be worth the effort. Too bad too as the trip would be an easy day loop paddle.

We then set out into the Obatanga backcountry south of 17. We launched from the Crayfish Lake access point. Crayfish Lake lies outside of Obatanga and there are several small cottages on this lake. We paddled in a drizzle across the lake to the first 15 m portage. A simple affair around a small rapid. Then we pitched across Knife Lake into a still headwind. Two campsites are easily visible along the western shore and two additional are on an island a bit further up the shore. We planned to head further northwest into Obatanga Lake for the night. The wetland at the northwest end of Knife Lake is beutiful and marked by a nice beaver hut, and prime moose territory. The portage from Knife Lake to Obatanga Lake is not long and is marked by crossing the Knife Lake Trail halfway through. But the western end is quite rocky and bouldering over 3 foot boulders with a canoe over ones head might be difficult if your not 6'4" Once on Obatanga you are treated to the beauty of being alone. We stayed on the southern most island for two nights. Obatanga Lake is over 5k long and no wider than 0.75k. So waves are generally not a worry. From here, one can head up the Dog River to University Lake, and south through a wetland to Kali Lake. From University Lake the Dog River can further be explored up to Hammer Lake Access across 17 from the H&C Family Lodge if you want to work out a shuttle for your car.

We ended up retracing our steps back to Crayfish Lake on a rainy 6 degree C (44F) day. But were rewared for our effort by seeing a moose swim across the northern end of Crayfish Lake before paddling out. Thank god for good gear when you spend three consecutive rainly days in the backcountry.

Obatanga and the surrounding Crown Land surely beckon for another exploration. Don't pass this gem up on the way to other places further north!! Now onto canoeing further out!!!

PK


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PostPosted: March 17th, 2007, 3:45 pm 
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Joined: March 17th, 2007, 3:19 pm
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Location: Northville, MI USA
pknoerr wrote:
From University Lake the Dog River can further be explored up to Hammer Lake Access across 17 from the H&C Family Lodge if you want to work out a shuttle for your car.

I am planning on visiting this exact area in early May. My plan was to put in on Hammer Lake across from H&C, (after an excellent breakfast there first), and head down the Dog to University Lake. Do you know if this stretch of the river is flat water or even passable? Also, are there any camp sites either on the river there or University Lake? Any info would be great!


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PostPosted: March 17th, 2007, 5:59 pm 
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Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
Get yourself the Crismar Map for Obatanga. You can pick it up at the Obatanga Ranger Station. There is a 130 meter portage out of Hammer Lake, and there are no rapids on the Dog River between Hammer and University, however, during dry seasons the Dog river can be low.

PK


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 Post subject: Just back from Obatanga
PostPosted: May 11th, 2007, 1:04 pm 
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Location: Northville, MI USA
Paul,

We had an excellent trip up in Obatanga! We parked at a little roadside boatlaunch on 17, about a half mile west of H&C lodge.

After crossing Hammer lake we portaged into the Dog River. That was fun, more like a water trail than a river. Lots of zigging and zagging in a river that was barely as wide as our paddles, (we were in kayaks). University Lake feels and is very remote for being just one lake from the hwy.

The Chrismar map showed two campsites but we could only find the one on an island. It was very nice but well used by locals. There was even a kitchen table there.

Then the winds came. It was sunny and in the mid 70's every day but for three days staright we had steady 20-30mph winds. Made the water a bit rough but that only added to the adventure factor.

Paddling from University to Obatanga was very nice, especially as the lake became the Dog river again.

We paddled right up on a very surpised cow moose. She actually took a few steps towards us before deciding to jump in the river and swim off. (what a splash that was!). She was the biggest cow I have ever seen. Also saw an otter shortly after that, then a bald eagle. Great stretch of paddling!

Camped on the northern most campsite on Obatanga, to avoid the wind. It was a nice site as well. Our plan was to get alot of fishing in but the winds were too much.

Paddling to Knife lake the next day was an adventure! The winds were at least 30mph with gusts that would stop you in your tracks sometimes. The waves were pretty hardy, breaking over our bows continuously. We really enjoyed the rapids between Obatanga and Knife. That was fun.

We camped on the first campsite out of the river on Knife, actually a small island with two sites. Great views but it was hard to find enough space for a tent without roots or rock.

Paddled out Monday morning to our waiting car at Crayfish Lake. That was very scenic as well. There was a small burnt area of the woods just north of Crayfish, not sure how old it was but that was interesting too.

A great time was had by all and we will be back as there seemed to be endless exploring to be had! Thanks for your help! It really came in handy!

Doug


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