Steel River: Santoy Lake to Steel River Loop (7 days / 160 km)

The Steel River is a 160 km loop with a lot of terrain changes from long lakes, swamps, rocky cliffs and sandy shores. This route is challenging due to remoteness and difficulty. It is the perfect route that includes both lake and river paddling that brings you back to the same start and endpoint so car shuttling is not needed.

Trip Completed: September 2020

Trip Summary

Starting/Ending Point: Santoy Lake

Total Distance: 160 km

Duration: 7 days (recommend 8-10 days)

Difficulty: Advanced


Located in Steel River Provincial Park (non-operating), 20 minutes south of Terrace Bay, Ontario. Roughly 4 km off the Trans Canada Highway down a gravel road. There is alternate access on Kimberly Clark logging road north of Aster lake. 

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: Kevin Callan’s Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes and Northern Scavenger’s trip report and Youtube video

Map: Topographic Maps Coldwell-042D15, Killala Lake-042E02 and Spider Lake-042E07

Campsite Reservations: N/A - Campsites are first-come-first-serve.

Permits: No, non-operating park with no facilities.

Outfitters & Shuttles

We did not use an outfitter as we have all our own gear. Shuttle is not needed because this route loops back to Santoy Lake, unless you put it at the alternate access.

Trip Report

Day 0: The Drive to Santoy

The first part of the journey starts with the 11.5-hour drive from Barrie, Ontario. Knowing we had a long drive and we would make a couple of stops along the way we decided to get a good night's rest then head out at 4 am. This gave us a full day of driving and we would arrive at the put-in before dark.

The drive is pretty straight forward so we got the GPS started and began. We stopped a handful of times along the way for gas and to stretch our legs since our dog was stuck in the back with all the gear. Once you start heading into Lake Superior Provincial Park the excitement begins to build because the scen...

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