View topic - Highway 102 (MacKay Lake) to Sim Lake

Canadian Canoe Routes

Highway 102 (MacKay Lake) to Sim Lake
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Author:  Ralph [ September 19th, 2011, 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Highway 102 (MacKay Lake) to Sim Lake

Trip: Highway #102 to Sim Lake
This is a trip through a number of small, pretty lakes. The total distance from Highway #102 to Sim Lake is about 17 kilometres with a total portaging distance of about 3040 metres. The trip in this report is described as a one-way trip into Sim Lake. Paddlers can either return via the same route to Highway #102 or could continue onward by connecting with a number of existing routes.

The portage routes on this trip were all cleared by our group as of mid-September 2011.

Start: Park your vehicle as far off the road as possible (drive into the “ditch” if you can). After unloading, you can park your vehicle at the MacKay Lake Recreation Site parking lot. Parking was secure when we parked there but security is subject to change at any time. Check with Ric at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters for the latest update on parking.

Portage from Can-Am Highway (#102) to Cote Lake
The portage starts on the east side of the road north of the Kuskawao Lake (which runs beside the road). The distance from the road to Cote Lake is approximately 130 metres. Part of that distance is in the cleared ditch and part is in the forest. The trail is in fair condition and goes to a good landing on Cote Lake.

Paddle southeast on Cote Lake for approximately 700 metres to the portage trail located on the north side of the shallow outflowing stream.

Portage from Cote Lake to Baldhead Lake:
The trail is about 140 metres long and in good condition with some wet spots.

Paddle southeast on Baldhead Lake for about a kilometre and enter the small outflowing stream. Depending upon water levels you might have to drag your boat over some boulder bars or wade through some sections of this stream.

Portage from Baldhead Lake to Contact Lake
The portage is not located as marked on the NTS map. It is located further downstream on the right (south) side of a beaver dam on the outflowing stream. The first 3 metres are quite steep and then the rocky trail winds up and down over some low hills to a very wet landing beside where the outflowing stream enters this part of Contact Lake.

There is a small campsite on the first island encountered (about 150 metres from the end of the portage trail Grid Reference 73 P/7 - 090434) upon entering Contact Lake. It has spots for 2 tents and a good kitchen area but very limited space for a bathroom area.

Paddle generally southeast for about 1 km on Contact Lake to the narrow channel connecting this northwest bay of Contact Lake with the main body of the lake. Paddle through the channel and then generally southeast to the start of the next portage (Grid reference 73 P/7 - 102433). Be aware that there is a very wet winter trail that starts at Grid Reference 73P/7 – 100419. This winter trail is not the portage route.

There is a large campsite on an island (Grid Reference 73 P/7 - 094422) which could accommodate 6 or more tents.

Portage from Contact Lake to a small, unnamed lake to the east.
(Grid reference 73 P/7 - 102433) Approximately 250 metres long and in good condition but steep at the east end. This portage had not been used for several years. It was cleared and marked at both ends as of mid-September, 2011

Paddle northeast to the north end of this lake to a straight-line break in the trees which is the location of the portage.

Portage from the first small unnamed lake east of Contact Lake to another small, unnamed lake to the north.
The portage is about 70 metres long and is quite wet. It might be possible to drag canoes over this portage.

Paddle northeast about 100 metres on the second small, unnamed lake to the start of the next portage.

Portage from the second small unnamed lake located east and north of Contact Lake to Hebden Lake.
The portage is about 1200 metres long and generally in very good condition but wet at the east end. It shows signs of Argo/quad usage and has some potential campsites along it but none of these campsites has easy access to water.

We noted the following campsites along our route through Hebden Lake: A seldom used site for 2 tents at Grid Reference 73 P/7 119440. A small island site for 1 tent at 73 P/7 136448. A larger island site for 2 tents and more with some work at 73 P/7 136446.

Paddle generally northeast on Hebden Lake almost to the end of the most easterly bay to the start of the portage trail at Grid Location 73 P/7 153458

Portage from Hebden Lake to Freestone Lake
This portage is about 350 metres long. It goes over a ridge and has a steep uphill section near the west end. The trail is rough in places, wet in places and rough and wet in places. Generally in is in fair to good condition.
Paddle generally north and east on Freestone Lake to the start of the next portage at Grid Location 73 P/7 188466

Portage from Freestone Lake to Sim Lake
This portage is about 700 metres long and generally in good condition. It starts in a small bay and, due to an impassable tangle of deadfall, it has been re-routed to go up through a campsite (2 tents). This western section is a little rough but it soon rejoins the original trail which is in very good condition. There are two waterfalls along the stream between Freestone Lake and Sim Lake which can be viewed by following a rough trail along the creek.


Author:  Allan Jacobs [ December 26th, 2011, 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Highway 102 (MacKay Lake) to Sim Lake

What an extraordinary service to the paddling community!
I'm preparing an entry for posting in my Routes Forums, and I am not familiar with the area, so please excuse the following.
From Sim Lake, one would usually proceed through McNichol Lake to Otter Lake? Is there an alternate route generally eastward to Stanley Mission?
Thanks, Allan

Author:  Ralph [ December 26th, 2011, 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Highway 102 (MacKay Lake) to Sim Lake

I haven't paddled these routes but I'll give you what information I have heard and read.
You can go northeast to McNichol Lake then to Otter Lake from where the possibilities are endless.
Freda Lake is just south of Sim Lake so if you check on the Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Routes, any trip that mentions Freda Lake (#6 and #12) also includes Sim Lake.
Contact Lake was on our route from Highway 102 into Sim Lake so one can also access any of the Documented Trips that include Contact Lake (#20 and #21).
Having the connection between Sim Lake and Contact Lake allows a variety of trips using parts of those Documented Routes and the re-established connection between Contact Lake and Sim Lake.
I'm not sure about going east to Land Lake and then to Hunt Lake. Perhaps Pawistik or someone else can speak to this?
Hope this helps.

Upon further reading of Route #21, I see that we have re-established part of this route that suffered from some major blow-downs.

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