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Interesting trip just northeast of Parry Sound
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Author:  naturetrail [ September 20th, 2005, 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Interesting trip just northeast of Parry Sound

I have done this trip twice now and enjoyed it a lot. Starting out at Nine Mile Lake, 8 km northeast of Parry Sound (great launching beach and lots of free parking), I paddled the 9 kilometers to the northwest bay. A sometimes tough 1.2 km portage (there's a bit of a cliff-edge walk involved) takes you to Wolf Lake, which has many bays and no cottages (the west end is especially peaceful and protected). Heading 3 km west, a 150 m portage takes you to Marsh and Upper Marsh lake, which has only a couple of cottages in the south end. There are a couple of great campsites on this lake as well.
Heading to the southwest extremity, paddle into the river system heading to Cranberry Lake. You will reach a huge beaver dam, with only a trickle of water on the downstream side. Last year I saw (too late to snap a picture) a pack of 7+ wolves (much larger than Algonquin's) 150 meters downstream of this dam. Hundreds of footprints (including many of deer and some moose). This can be a tough portage, but I have done it 3 different times. It can be very muddy in spots if you take the wrong path. It's worth scouting out the first time you do it. You need to stick as close to the river as possible (left side) for maybe 600-700 meters until you reach the marsh halfway between the dam and Cranberry Lake. Put the canoe back into the river when you reach the start of a steep cliff dipping into the river. Paddle around the bends into the marsh.
This marsh is easily navigable by canoe for 500 meters to it's southern end, where you have to portage/liftover a rock legde and beaver dam. This marsh teems with life in the spring and into summer. The numbers of species of birds nesting here are incredible - it sounds like an airport, that's how loud it gets. You can spend a couple of hours here exploring and taking in the view. The remaining river south to Cranberry Lake seems to be navigable even in the lowest water. I did it this summer after 3 weeks of zero rain and had no problems. There will be 4 beaver dam liftovers. The second one has exposed shallow rocks below the dam, so I found that dragging my canoe through the marsh brush on the right side worked well (just don't step in the odd beaver constructed trench hidden by the brush). In low water, the river exit to the lake is a 200 m pateau 5-6 cm deep with 30 cm deep soft muck below. Stay close to the right shore at first and then PUSH your way into open water. It took me 10 minutes !!
The lake is beatiful and remote. Great campsites available everywhere. There is a rough trail (?!?) to the west leading apparently to a snowmobile trail 1.5 km to the west. I took my GPS and followed it for 700 m. I have no idea how any human could take this path, but the odd person has done so. I would never try this access ! It's brutal - without gear. There is fantastic bass fishing, but because the lake is so small, I encourage everyone to go with a single hook, and pinch the barb. This should be a catch-and-release lake only, as it could be quickly destroyed, like all the other lakes we know.
Try fishing Wolf Lake on your way back. I've caught several big bass there also. This whole trip is a joy, because it costs you only gas, and the terrain changes keep things very interesting. And there's no garbage anywhere !!


Author:  JohnM [ September 20th, 2005, 9:26 am ]
Post subject: 

Sounds like a very interesting area.

Did you do this as a day trip or did you camp?

Author:  wotrock [ September 20th, 2005, 8:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

thx for posting that. That's an area I had been looking at on my topos. I thought that maybe you could put in on that small lake/pond between 9 mile and Wolf ( I assume Wolf is the next 1 up--it's not named on my topo). I thought the paddle up 9 mile would be a bit boring---straight line for about 2 hrs. How was the paddle up 9 mile?

Author:  naturetrail [ September 21st, 2005, 4:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've done the trip (or variations of it) 3 times - 2 night and 3 night stays. The first time I camped on one of the islands at the northern end and daytripped from there. The islands were very nice, and surprisingly clean, as they are used on summer weekends by the cartop crowd. Last time I was on one of the islands, I couldn't even find a piece of tinfoil !
The length of nine mile (it's actually about 9 km) isn't bad in terms of scenery, as the shorelines are often fairly steep and give cliff-like vantages. There are also several marshy openings. The northern end is actually quite rugged with several bays and islands. Also being narrow, I have had no trouble in even the most horrendous westerly winds. Where I could barely move forward on Marsh Lake towards the west, I easily managed the paddle to the north end of Nine Mile. Decent protection everywhere except that first opening just north of the beach.
The last time I was there (this summer), I camped 2 nights on Marsh Lake on the north shore opposite to where the opening is to the southern part of the lake. I camped by an amazing smooth, flat, sandstone shore 20m X 5m - almost like a pancake. Great protection from west winds, and you couldn't scrape your knee on this rock if you tried. I took 2 daytrips to Cranberry Lake - it takes about 1.5-2 hours if you move quickly.
You can camp on Wolf Lake (which is the name on the snowmobile trail marker - and as you said, is not marked by any name on the topo). You will almost certainly meet no one on that lake. You might find a few on weekends on the Marsh Lakes. Still, even when busy, it means maybe 2 or 3 boats for 6+ km of lake.

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