Algonquin Provincial Park: Kiosk Loop (9 days / 80 km)
My friend Ben and I were looking for a longer trip this year. Previously, the longest trip either of us had done was 5 days, and we were itching for more time in the backcountry. We decided on the Kiosk Loop, running counter-clockwise, over a leisurely 8 nights. We both knew we could do it in less, but liked the idea of 3-5 hours of work per day and relaxing afternoons. We figured late July would offer good weather, reduced bugs, and avoid the larger crowds of the first two weeks of August (the park’s busiest). While we suffered persistent strong winds for the duration of the trip, conditions were otherwise very good.
We paddled over 23 distinct lakes, rivers and creeks. The strong winds on Kioshkokwi, Manitou and North Tea lakes made some tough times and sketchy paddling conditions, including the closest I’ve ever been to becoming windbound during a trip. Portaging distance (assuming single carries) was about 14km over an 80+km trip. A highly encouraged route for intermediate trippers looking to boost their skills with longer-duration trips.
Trip Completed: July 2022
Starting Point: Access Point #29 – Kioshkokwi Lake
Ending Point: Access Point #29 – Kioshkokwi Lake
Total Distance: 80 km
Duration: 9 Days
This route is located in Algonquin Provincial Park. The put in is accessed from HWY 630, which starts between North Bay and Mattawa and ends at Kioshkokwi Lake, in the northeast corner of the park.
Traditional Territory: This route takes place on the traditional territory of the Anishinabewaki and Huron/Wendat Peoples.
Maps & Resources
Map: Jeff’s Map, Algonquin for route planning and distance estimation (including portage distances); Official Canoe Routes Map of Algonquin Park for navigation.
Campsite Reservations: Reservations are required for the lake you wish to camp on. Reservations can be made through Ontario Parks. Campsites on that lake are first come first served. Arriving early in the afternoon is typically the best time to secure a campsite.
Permits: As of 2020, Ontario Parks allows you to print permits at home.
Know Before You Go
Cell Reception: No. Cell service was unavailable at the Kiosk launch point and for the rest of the trip.
Wildlife: Bears, moose, raccoons, other small critters. Visitors to Algonquin Park should always maintain a bear-safe campsite.
Waste: Thunderboxes are available on all campsites. There is a garbage and recycling station at the Kiosk campground and parking lot.
Outfitters & Shuttles
Outfitter: We did not use an outfitter for this route, but Algonquin North Outfitters is at the turnoff from the Trans Canada Highway towards Access Point #29. I have previously rented from them, and were great to deal with.
Shuttle: No shuttle is required for this loop.
Day 1: Kioshkokwi – Amable du Fond (9km with 600m of portaging)
Note to self: Always plan to leave 30-60 minutes later than the goal departure time!
It was a little after 9am when we set out from Ottawa. We stopped in Cobden to grab some coffee and breakfast sandwiches, as well as a quick stop at the LCBO for a few beers to keep in the car for when we finished up the trip. They happened to have Side Launch coffee-flavoured lager, a favourite of mine that I tend to have a hard time finding in eastern Ontario (but oddly enough always see it in British Columbia when I visit).
We made it to Kiosk at about 1:45pm, carried everything down to the beach, and before launching ate some sandwiches while enjoying the view. A little concerned by the number of whitecaps to the west (our intended direction), but excited about a trip we’d agreed on back in February finally happening. We hit the water around 2:30pm.
Those whitecaps turned out to be bigger than expected, and the beach was more sheltered from the wind. We were facing a brutal headwind and waves large enough that if taken head-on a bit of water would top over the bow. We tacked our way towards Amable du Fond, staying slightly off from straight into the waves. It was tiring work. Outside of running whitewater, I think that was the most I’d ever appreciated having the PFD on. A family on a motorboat went by us, bouncing mightily over the waves.
Where the Amable du Fond enters Kioshkokwi is quite pretty. There were two young kids in the motorboat family who were having a blast in the calm, sheltered water. We walked up the river a slight ways before starting the first portage around Amable du Fond (1015 m).
We decided to put the canoe in the water for the 500m section of the river that can shorten the portage. We made it about 80% of the way before the water level got too low to paddle over, and we waded the canoe the rest. Getting ready to portage the final 250m, I looked through the gear and realized my Tilley was missing. I had put it on top of the blue barrel at the end of the last portage, but it must have fallen off. So got to see the 500m low water portion of the portage anyway as we hiked back to retrieve my hat. It would have been a terrible shame to lose such important gear so shortly after beginning.
We took the campsite on the north shore of the Amable du Fond, just before the 1355m portage to Manitou. It was quite nice, with easy swimming access. We checked out the other two sites in this section of the river, and ours was by far the nicest. The sound of running water was quite clear from just upriver. Didn’t see another canoe for the rest of the night. Really the only complaint was the blackflies were much worse than I was expecting for this time of year.
We had steak and potatoes for dinner, along with the two beers each we packed (I know, not allowed, but the cans were promptly washed out, crushed, and placed in our garbage to be carried for the rest of the trip).
I went out fishing for a while with no luck and returned to shore around dusk to swarms of mosquitoes. A sign of things to come? We’ll see.
Campsite: Campsite on the north shore of Amable du Fond River, before the portage to Manitou Lake. Nice view of a wide section of the river. Sound of falling water coming from the vicinity of the portage. Clearly the nicest of the three in this area. Excellent swimming access.
Day 2: Amable du Fond to North Tea Lake (18.5km with 1,940m of portaging)
We knew from the forecast that today was supposed to be windy and hot, so figured it’d be best to get as much paddling as possible done early in the day. We woke up at 6 and had a breakfast of oatmeal, powdered peanut butter, powdered milk and dried cranberries. I decided to switch things up from my normal approach of Starbucks Via coffee pouches for a Nescafe alternative that has sugar and dehydrated milk in it; a bit more bulky, but it honestly tasted quite good. On the water by 7:30.
It was a very short paddle before we made it to the 1,355m portage to Manitou – fun way to start the day. We had a full food barrel, so decided to double-carry. The end of the portage near Manitou was extremely buggy, but overall it was flat and easy enough.
We weren’t terribly surprised – though a tad disappointed – to find a strong headwind already buffeting Manitou. Though not as bad as on Kiosk the day before, it was somewhat challenging to deal with on such a large lake. We stayed relatively close to the north/west shore of the lake, until we were coming up on the large peninsula opposite the bay that leads to the portage to Three Mile. Despite the waves we had been fighting all morning, we could see a strong current in the water just past the edge of the peninsula. Turns out the wind was coming more SW than the mostly westerly direction we thought, and the stretch of water between the peninsula and portages to North Tea were by far the roughest portion of the lake. We made almost directly for the campsite on the south shore, keeping the waves at about a 20% angle. This was much more difficult paddling than the day before, and we took a few minutes to recover when we reached the far shore. That was a big enough crossing to feel rather dicey, and the closest to windbound I’ve ever felt.
The rest of the lake wasn’t as bad, as we kept some protection from a slightly leeward shore. We decided to take the eastern portage with the waterfall. The portage was easy enough, but this was the first time we really felt the heat of the day. Temperatures were around 30 before humidex, but you didn’t really feel them while in the wind. A good reminder to drink lots of water.
We stopped to chat with an older chap on a solo trip. We warned him about conditions on Manitou, but at least he was going in the right direction. The waterfall is indeed pretty, as described on Jeff’s Map.
Still into a strong headwind on North Tea. We passed two canoes doing day trips to the waterfall. They decided to travel in otherwise empty canoes, and I was wondering how they’d fare on the trip back if the wind didn’t subside. The section between Manitou and the east-west junction on the lake was a grind, but not as bad as Manitou had been. Rounding the corner to the east made things more challenging, as getting to shore required going broadside to the waves, which were still large enough to get water into the canoe. The sites here also had rather difficult, rocky landings.
We took the site about halfway between the turn to the east and the narrows/peninsula that leads to Mangotasi. The large, steep rock landing required me to jump into the thigh-deep water and hold the canoe steady while Ben unloaded the packs. We could then awkwardly get the canoe onto the rocks for the night.
We’d been at it for about 6 hours due to the strength of the wind slowing progress, only grabbing food from our snack bags (we each packed a ziplock per day of snacks to enjoy on the go. Mine included hickory almonds, sour keys, sour jujubes, hot lips, cajun cashews and beer nuts), so I cooked up some jerky fried rice on the stove. We were both spent; while not too long distance-wise, the constant work of paddling against such a strong headwind and large waves was both physically and mentally exhausting, and we promptly fell asleep for a nap.
I made coffee once we woke up (I packed enough for a morning and an afternoon coffee per day) and spent a relaxing afternoon on the high campsite with a commanding view of the lake. Made chilli and garlic bread (thanks to Jon from Lost Lakes for the garlic bread idea) for dinner, which was a delicious choice.
Winds died down a bit around 8pm, but were still gusting quite strongly. We were definitely glad of the decision to get an early start on the day. Bugs came out in force again around dusk, but not quite as bad as the previous night. Jeff’s map estimate of paddling about 18.5km, but probably closer to 21km in reality due to hugging shores.
Campsite: High view of the lake, but otherwise not particularly noteworthy. There’s a small rock port that allowed us to get the canoe in without facing the full-sized waves, but it’s still a steep landing. Totally adequate, but not my favourite of the trip.
Day 3: North Tea Lake to Biggar Lake (9km with 500m of portaging)
We slept in until about 8:30am. I found a recipe for rice pudding that I wanted to try as a backcountry breakfast. The basic idea is rice cooked in sugar, powdered milk and cinnamon and loaded with dried fruit. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t live up to the expectation. Won’t be repeating this one on future trips.
We hit the water around 10:30am. The winds weren’t as strong as yesterday, and we were able to load off the side of a rock rather than wade in again. For the first time on the trip we had a helpful tailwind and positively flew into Mangotasi Lake. It looks like all 3 sites near the access to Mangotasi were taken, so I’m glad we grabbed the site we did.
There are three very short portages between Mangotasi and Biggar (240m, 90m, 140m), with a nice waterfall on Hornbeam (the first portage). We made it to Biggar in no time and grabbed a great site – the east-facing one where the lake opens up. Wide, flat rocks were absolutely great for lounging on. Unsurprisingly several groups came to scope out the site after we claimed it; one within about 20 minutes of our arrival – lucky timing given our late start to the day.
We had an easy lunch of tuna, hot sauce and naan (better than it sounds!), went for a swim (good access, but rocky bottom) and played some Tak on the rocks.
What’s that, you haven’t heard of Tak!? Well, allow me to introduce you to fiction made real. It was a game introduced in one of my favourite books, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear. It was described as a board-based game with simple rules and complex execution. Using the description from the book, Rothfuss worked with a boardgame designer to make it real. It’s a sort of cross between chess and tick-tack-toe. You have to place and move your tokens to make a road from one side of the board to the opposite.
We cooked up Korean spiced tacos for dinner, finishing up just before it started to rain. There were two fire pits on the site – one on the rocks, and a well-sheltered one against a glacial erratic. When the light rain started we moved our firewood up to the sheltered site and kept the fire going. A very easy, relaxing day.
Campsite: Spectacular campsite. Large, flat rocks to lounge on. Two fire pits, including one with a high degree of rain protection. Thunderbox is strangely close to the water, but otherwise no complaints.
Day 4: Biggar Lake to Three Mile Lake (8km with 3,100m of portaging)
Up at 7:30am. Breakfast tacos today. A mixture of dehydrated refried beans, shredded potato and (self-) powdered eggs on the leftover tortillas from the night before. The result didn’t taste fantastic, but was certainly filling. Heavier spicing might have helped. Need to work on powdered eggs.
On the water by 9:30am. The wind had shifted to the NW, and was on the chilly side.
The portage between Biggar and Sinclair (520 m) was pretty forgettable, and we quickly crossed the small lake. The portage between Sinclair and Kawa was pretty buggy, and the day was quite muggy in the woods. We crossed Kawa and hurriedly managed the noticeably buggier 320 m portage to Upper Kawa. We put the canoe in the water too soon, however. Apparently the real launch is 50m or so down the submerged dirt road. Added some gouges to the bottom of the canoe in our haste to be away from the bugs.
The island campsite on Upper Kawa certainly ranks among the worst I’ve seen in the park. It was almost entirely overgrown, with a very reedy landing. I feel bad for the (very rare) party that takes it.
We paddled over to the 1220 m portage from Upper Kawa to Three Mile Lake and promptly entered mosquito hell. This was undoubtedly the buggiest portage of the trip, and nothing short of miserable to cross through. We decided on double carrying so that we could stay in constant motion.
It was with a sigh of relief that we paddled out onto Three Mile Lake. The rocky peninsula site just to the north of the island looked like the prize of the lake, but was lamentably occupied. We settled for the site opposite, on the eastern shore. It was a dreary, overcast day and the winds had a decided nip to them. We grabbed the site in part for the good tarp options, as it had sprinkled on us briefly while paddling on Biggar.
Brief paddling day, but the first with over 3km of portages.
We had summer sausage, cheese and fruit leather for lunch, then settled in for an afternoon of reading. I brought The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with me for this trip; something I’ve been meaning to read for ages but just never found the time for. The squat, thick book was just the thing for this trip. Ben was reading an action book written by a former Navy Seal – the name escapes me.
We cooked up some pasta alfredo for dinner, followed by hot chocolate (and whisky). A great way to wind down the cool day.
Campsite: The campsite is quite exposed to winds from the north and west, but had good tarp options. Lots of firewood around. Strangely warm water – for some reason Three Mile Lake had the warmest water of any lake we camped on. If only it were a nicer day for swimming!
Day 4: Day 5: Three Mile Lake to Erables Lake (11.5km with 3,250m of portaging)
Halfway day of the trip already – jeez this is going fast. We were up at 7:15am to perfectly clear skies, though another cool morning. A quick oatmeal breakfast and we were on the water by 8:45am.
There is nothing particularly memorable about the 550m portage to North Silvia, but the lake itself is a nice little one with four or five campsites on it. Much better than the name Dismal Bay just after the portage gave the impression of. Would have pushed on here had we known it was this nice – and completely empty!
We crossed the 660m portage to Boggy Lake, and based on the lake’s name, expected a miserable experience. Ooze Lake near the Barron Canyon definitely lives up to its name, as does Weed Lake near Rain Lake. I was expecting the same here. Instead, we found a pleasant enough little lake that was an easy paddle across. Boggy Lake is hard done by, I say!
The day was heating up as we carried the 1490m portage to Dahinda Lake, with the put-in swarming with mosquitoes. We launched as quickly as we could, crossing the marshy strait into Ratrap Lake. Ratrap is a pretty little lake with a nice campsite. We really hadn’t done too much paddling so far today, so we took the time to explore the lake a bit.
We met a couple from Tillsonburg at the 390m portage to Maple Lake, the first people we had stopped to chat with in several days. They were doing the same route as us (save going down White Birch and Clearwater Lakes instead of Mink) in the opposite direction, and in 6 nights instead of our 8. Where a number of our days have seemed almost too short, they said their pace has been a bit gruelling. We assured them Boggy Lake was a much more pleasant experience than they were expecting, while they warned us Club Lake was a feasting zone. We wished them well and carried on down the trail.
Maple is a surprisingly large lake for the sparse campsites on it. The day was hot and clear, and we enjoyed our paddle across this starfish-shaped lake. Of the campsites we saw, the southern site on the island near the portage to Erables looked like the nicest, albeit with a close neighbour.
It’s a winding route down a portion of Maple Creek to reach the portage, including 2 beaver dam lift-overs. The portage is a short 170m.
We’d be spending the next day as a rest day on Erables, so wanted to take the time to find a particularly good campsite. We’d heard from a few groups that the sites on this lake were nice. We scoped out the 5 sites on the northern side of the lake, but as soon as we spotted the peninsula site on the eastern shore it was a done deal. The shining rocks and elevated site were just too inviting to pass on. The firepit is almost throne-like (and a great option for the bread I was planning on making), and even the thunderbox was well above average, situated in a clearing among old pines. This was the second thunderbox we had (after the site on Biggar) with a plastic toilet seat – thanks Ed! This would be a good home for the next 2 days.
I made some Bannock for lunch, with a generous serving of jam. Took a swim, quickly realizing that the main downside to this site was the difficulty getting into the water. All around the campsite are angular rocks covered in very slippery algae. Oh well. I thoroughly rinsed my clothes in the water, set up a clothes line, and plunked my chair down on the rocks with my book. A few canoes went by heading towards Maple – these would be the last people we’d see for the next 48 hours.
Shout out to the loons on this lake. While we’d heard them pretty consistently throughout the trip, they were especially vocal on Erables. I love loon calls, and it just added another wonderful dimension to the day.
While the forest up near the campsite is quite open with little understory, it gets thick the further back from the water you go. We had no trouble finding a generous helping of firewood.
We were treated to a brilliant sunset, which we enjoyed with an extra large pour of whisky and the cigars we brought with us. Probably the highlight experience of the trip.
The mosquitos came out once the sun had set, so we built up a fire and got dinner on. Dinner was a dehydrated chicken pot pie – the grocery store variety. Taking a hint from Xander Budnick’s channel, I cooked a premade pot pit, broke it up into tiny pieces and dehydrated it. Results were far better than I’d hoped – it was delicious, if a tonne of food to split between two people.
We heard wolf howls to the NW around 11, at least a few of them a ways off. This was only the second time I’d heard wolves in Algonquin, the first being in late October on Crotch Lake a few years previous. I always think it’s an amazing experience to hear wolves.
The night remained exceptionally clear, which allowed me to take some stunning photos of the Milky Way using my phone’s astrophotography mode. Honestly, it’s crazy how good phone camera technology has become. We crawled into bed around 1am, deeply pleased with the day.
Campsite: The best of the trip. Reasonable canoe landing, rocks for lounging, phenomenal views to west and south. Open forest around the site, becoming denser further into the bush. Plenty of available firewood. Poor swimming access.
Day 6: Rest Day with Day Trip to Maple Creek (8km)
We decided to sleep in today, finally rousing ourselves around 8:30 to loon calls echoing from all over the lake – good morning to you too, Erables!
We used one of the large, slab rocks on the side of the fire pit to turn it into a reflector oven in order to bake some cornbread for breakfast, a first in my cooking repertoire. It turned out a little dry, but tasty. Something I’m happy to work on for future trips.
The day started off completely clear, but clouds started to roll in with a wind from the SW around 11:30am.
We went for a paddle around 1pm, exploring the rest of the sites and confirming that a) we had the nicest site on the lake, and b) we had the lake to ourselves. We decided to hike the portage down to Maple Creek, and apparently found the deer fly HQ of northern Algonquin. We hiked the portage there and back at a fast clip and nearly threw the canoe back into Erables to be away of the hellspawn.
On the way back we paddled a little too close to the small island near our site and were summarily divebombed by a seagull protecting her (unbeknownst to us) nest. She circled us squawking until we were back on the site.
More tuna, hot sauce and naan for lunch, followed by a nap. The wind died down around 5:30 so I got out for some fishing (still no luck).
It was finally time for a dinner I had been looking forward to – Thanksgiving in July! Dehydrated chicken and sweet potato, instant stuffing and gravy. It took more dishes to prepare than most meals, but the gravy goodness was oh-so-delicious. The loons stayed vocal all evening, which we enjoyed with some cedar tea.
Day 7: Erables Lake to Mouse Lake (10km with 3,400m of portaging)
I woke up around 4:30am to heavy rain, but as I was staying dry and warm quickly fell back to sleep. Woke up properly at 7am, feeling greatly refreshed after the rest day.
Breakfast was shelf-stable bacon warmed up over the fire (delicious) and a dehydrated potato slice and powdered egg combo (which was definitely a failure). Oh well, at least it was filling.
We were on the water around 9am after bidding adieu to one of my new favourite sites in the park. The 1,500m portage to Big Thunder wasn’t particularly difficult, but we did get our only moose sighting of the trip on it. We decided to double carry this portage and single carry the 1,700m coming up, and on the way back an adolescent moose burst out of the brush and trotted down the portage ahead of us. I think it startled us as badly as we startled it. It was out of sight before I could grab a picture, but we could hear it ahead for a while as we walked the portage back toward our gear.
We met a solo canoeist at the put-in, the first person we’d need in almost 2 days.
The take-out and put-in for Mink Creek were extremely muddy, but the winding creek was a nice change of pace. I found an old canoe yoke at the put-in, the screw holes rotted away, and put it to use as something to stand on.
Single carried the 1,700m portage into Mouse Lake now that the weight of the barrel was significantly reduced. It started to rain during the last few hundred meters and picked up as we launched onto Mouse. It was really pouring by the time we pulled up on the beach of the second campsite to the right of the portage. We quickly strung the tarp up for a place to keep dry.
We got out the chairs and took a seat as the rain pelted down with impressive intensity. It showed no signs of letting up, so we made a coffee to warm ourselves back up. Even with rain jackets on, we got rather drenched on the paddle and while setting up the tarp. It was still raining when we finished the coffees, so we decided to eschew the planned lunch of sausage, cheese and fruit leather in favour of instant chicken noodle soup – one of the extra meals I packed in case we found ourselves windbound and forced to extend our trip by a day. The hot soup hit the spot and we were feeling much better.
All told the heavy rainfall kept up for more than an hour; flooding a good portion of the campsite. Both tent pads had standing water on them, leading us to wonder what the night might have in store. We decided to refrain from setting up the tent for a while to let things drain.
Shortly after the rain, the clouds cleared and a hot sun beat down on our site’s beach. We hung our damp clothes off trees in the sun, pulled up our chairs and read. The rest of the day was rather gorgeous save for a very brief windstorm that passed through around 4:30pm; worried that it might be a warning of more rain we struggled against it to set up the tent on the now-drained tent pad that was on the highest ground, relying on the rainfly to direct water away from the pooling spot if more rain arrived. Thankfully, the gusts blew past.
I managed to collect some dryish firewood in a dense thicket. We took a swim around 6:30pm before starting dinner of chilli mac and cheese.
We watched one thundercloud slowly amble by far to the north, occasionally giving off impressive lightning bolts. Maybe the rain washed the humidity and particulates from the air, but the sky was very impressive. The sunset glow on the western horizon seemed to remain far longer than any previous night.
Campsite: Relatively sheltered with a good tarp spot. Two smallish tent pads. Nice northern views over the lake. Narrow strip of beach to enjoy. Dense reeds made for subpar swimming conditions.
Day 8: Mouse Lake to Mink Lake (9km with 1,775m of portaging)
Accidentally slept in until 8:45am today (in my defence, the alarm on my watch only beeps for 20 seconds). It was a cold, overcast morning with strong winds from the NW (the direction we’ll be travelling up the long and narrow Mink Lake – yaaaay). Even on little Mouse Lake, the waves were whipping up. Seems hard to escape this headwind this trip.
We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and were on the water by 10am. We cruised by the northern of the two sites on the eastern shore of the lake, the only other one that was occupied last night, but they hit the water a little before us. As best as we could tell it’s the nicest on the lake, with a generous beach.
We met some guys on a fishing trip at the end of the 775m portage into Club Lake. They were really interested in our trip, having been considering a similar loop but thought it was too big a jump from their typical 3-4 day trips. We assured them that if they’d made it this far that if they took it at a reasonable pace they could handle it. We let them know of the wicked site on Erables, and they in turn told us that the middle site on the peninsula about halfway up Mink was the best on the lake.
Most of Club Lake is thick, marshy conditions which, when paired with the wind, made for slower crossing than expected for a lake of its size. There were also several beaver dam lift-overs. But at least the strong winds kept the bugs we had been warned about down. There’s an interesting old timber building in front of the 1 km portage into Mink. The portage was somewhat buggy, but far less muddy than I was expecting given the amount of rain that fell the day before.
The headwinds on Mink were brutal. While the waves were far smaller than on Manitou, I think this required the most effort to make forward progress. As we slowly progressed up the lake, we watched the peninsula site we were aiming for get claimed roughly 15 minutes before we would have made it. Sigh. We instead took the site just to the south of it, which to be fair was a very nice site, but having glimpsed the one just to our north we knew we didn’t quite have the best. C’est la vie.
Compared to our experiences with traffic so far on this trip there was a veritable flotilla (a fleet of boats) of canoes making their way down Mink. Seems we grabbed our site just in time.
Winds kept up throughout the afternoon with intermittent showers. We played some Tak, moving the board and barrel under the tarp when the rain started. Lunch was jerky, cheese and fruit leather.
Exploring the site while collecting firewood, I figured this lake must have been hit by a wicked windstorm within the past year. There were a lot of recently downed large trees.
The winds let up slightly around 6pm, so we went fishing in the sheltered bays on the western shore. Caught a few bass, and learned that Ben had 1) never caught a fish before, and 2) had absolutely no idea what to do when he did. He passed me the rod, gasping “there’s a fish on! There’s a fish in the boat!” Absolutely hilarious. Fajitas for dinner, and we polished off our second platypus of whisky. Bed around 11pm.
Campsite: Very good campsite. A steep climb from the water, but once up it’s spacious and open, with a few good tarp spots. Space for many tents. The thunderbox is a little close to the site (especially come sparser fall foliage). Lots of wood behind the site. A curious number of large trees blown down within the past year.
Day 9: Mink Lake to Kiosk Take Out (8km with 1,050m of portaging)
Up at 7am. Breakfast tacos on the menu – definitely a recipe I need to work on. It rained hard overnight. Mercifully I put everything under the tarp before calling it a night. We were on the water around 9:15am, sorry to see our trip coming to an end.
Strong winds from the NW again, so making our way up mind was quite the workout. We chatted with a family putting in at the north end of Mink. Conditions on Kiosk the day before were very rough, so almost everyone camping on the lake went to the SE. Apparently, it was quite the frenzy trying to get campsites.
Holy canoes, Batman! We passed probably 15 people heading towards Little Mink on the portage from Kiosk. The August long weekend was certainly in full swing. We could see a bit of a flotilla making its way across Kiosk once we reached the put-in.
Conditions on Kiosk on the east side of the rail bridge weren’t particularly rough, but that changed once we passed under the tunnel. Large rollers and strong winds to contend with, but not nearly as bad as our launch day.
We hit the takeout around 11am and cracked a couple of beers that we had waiting in the car (in clean clothes!). We stopped at Whitewater Brewing in Cobden for lunch (as is our custom). Chipotle spiced chicken tenders and poutine certainly hit the spot! We were back in Ottawa by 4, already thinking ahead to our next trip.
I planned the length of this trip to allow for long, leisurely afternoons and to eat up some of the vacation time we had accumulated during COVID. Anyone more pressed for time could complete it in 6 or 7 days and still not be required to knock out big kilometres every day. We chose the counter-clockwise route to keep the longest portages until the end, but as a result, spent more time dealing with a headwind. We were glad to have done most of the trip before the August long weekend. Overall the menu was great, but a few recipes need some work. I’ll be sticking to the daily ziplock of snacks for all long trips going forward.
I’m a climate change specialist by vocation and a backcountry camper by obsession. Algonquin Park is my favourite destination, but you’ll often find me paddling the lakes and rivers around Ottawa. I’m mostly a flatwater paddler, but am building up to more challenging northern whitewater rivers. As of the end of 2022, I am only 7 lakes shy of my goal to paddle or portage to 100 different lakes/rivers/creeks in Algonquin.