Temagami: Matagamasi Lake to Wolf Lake (4 days / 37 km)

Wolf Lake is one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Temagami. It is surrounded by the largest old-growth red pine forest in the world. Nearby there is the beautiful swimming hole and waterfall, appropriately named Paradise Lagoon. This route begins at the south end of Matagamasi Lake and only has four portages, ranging in length from 200 m to 300 m, making this route an excellent choice for novice paddlers.

Trip Completed: October 2020

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Matagamasi Lake

Ending Point: Matagamasi Lake

Total Distance: 37 km

Duration: 4 days / 3 nights 

Difficulty: Beginner

Location

Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park and Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, northeast of Sudbury, north of Markstay.

Take Action: Wolf Lake is surrounded by the largest remaining old-growth red pine forest in the world. As such, there are a lot of developers and provincial MPs who want Wolf Lake logged. Please consider joining the fight to save Wolf Lake by signing their petition or supporting the Friends of Temagami.

Traditional Territory: This route takes place on the traditional territory of the Cree and Anishinabewaki (source).

Maps & Resources

Map: Ottertooth.com printouts of Chiniguchi: The Middle Tracks, these maps also recommend using topographic maps, but we did not and didn’t have any problems.

Permits: This trip is within a non-operating Ontario park which means there are no reservations or fees. This means all camping is first come first serve.

Outfitters & Shuttles

Shuttle: A shuttle is not needed, as the route starts and ends at the same place.

Outfitter: We did not use any outfitters or shuttles but there are several outfitters and lodges in the Temagami area that could help with this trip.

Trip Report

Day 1: Matagamasi Lake (7 km)

We started late in the day so we stayed on Matagamasi Lake. The road to the launch is an active logging road so watch out for trucks and poor road conditions. The roads were decent when we went through in late 2020. We started at the Matagamasi Lake boat launch at the end of Matagamasi Lake road. Parking here is free. There is limited parking here so it could be full in the summer. There are also cottagers and anglers who use this area so it is important to park your car out of the way. 

We had an easy paddle up the lake and into the east arm. We stopped to take a look at the pictographs and found a decent site on a rock point. We heard wolves howling at night.

Matagamasi Lake Pictographs: Apparently the second largest pictograph site in Temagami according to Ottertooth.ca is here. Remember to treat them with respect by not touching them and refrain from taking photos. Their location is marked on the Ottertooth map and is in the narrowest part of the east arm of Matagamasi Lake.

Campsite: Moderately used campsite on a rock point on Matagamasi Lake east arm. It was marked on our map as a 3+ tent pad site, which was accurate. 

Day 2: Matagamasi to Wolf Lake (14 km)

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. We slowly paddled down the east arm and back up the west arm of Matagamasi Lake. We went on the first portage (300 m), which is a nice and flat cedar swamp, though a bit wet. At the end of this portage you can see the crystal clear waters of wolf lake. A short crossing of a small lake puts you at the second portage (240 m). This one is pretty steep and follows some very steep slopes. I recommend leaving yourself some time to visit this area, called Paradise Lagoon. There are waterfalls in the area and some logging remnants. In low water, you can cross some logs to see the lagoon. There is also access to this area via an unkempt trail from a logging road. This is where we saw the only people of the trip, other than anglers fishing in Matagamasi. These people had used the trail from the road to access the site. We had lunch at the landing here.

Note from Mikaela: My very first canoe trip was to Paradise Lagoon, back in 2010. Swimming under the falls is one of the few memories I have from that trip; it was incredible. I highly recommend checking this spot out.

We kept paddling onto Wolf lake, exploring and taking in the beautiful red pine forest. There is an abandoned trap cabin and fire ranger cabin remnants to see on your way in. There is a swift between the two sections of Wolf lake, but it was paddle-able upstream when we went through. We spent some time floating down the lake with a tailwind until we saw the site we wanted to stay at. There are steep slopes around the lake and Temagami greenstone cliffs. We had a nice fire under the stars. 

Campsite: Upper west side of Wolf Lake. Big site with many tent pads and a big fire ring and rock tables. It has a little pebble beach on the peninsula. Could be accessed via ATV, so heavily used. There was also metal.

Day 3: Wolf Lake to Matagamasi (11 km)

We woke up to strong winds so we didn’t spend as much time exploring Wolf Lake as we wanted to (we were a group of environmental science/biology students). We did paddle to the opposite side of the lake to gawk at the red pines. We headed back down Wolf Lake and through the same portages. The one from Wolf Lake has a campsite a little bit inwards of the landing. The southern portage could be run or lined in high water but at this point in the year, it was very rocky so we portaged. We camped on partway down Matagamasi Lake. We also had a double rainbow once the rain cleared up. We had another long fire and tried to keep warm and reflected on our trip. 

Campsite: We camped on the last site marked as a big site on Matagamasi Lake after paddling in rough winds and a little rain. There are two points near each other, with a campsite on each but the west one was nicer and slightly more protected from the weather. There were several tent pads, some deeper in the trees and more protected. It was a very bare rock point but it might be great for swimming (it was 5 degrees when we were there). 

Day 4: Matagamasi (4 km)

We packed up camp, sad that the great trip was over and paddled back to our cars. It is a short paddle back. We were happy to see our cars were okay but there were a few more cars in the parking area as it was now a Friday.

Reflections

We had a very relaxing trip and didn’t push very hard. There is much more to be done in this area to expand your route. 

The parking area was okay when we were there mid-week in mid-October but I can imagine it could be much busier in the peak of summer so be mindful of where you park your car. It is also a risk leaving your car there as it is an unmonitored area. There are also motorboats allowed on parts of Matagamasi as there are private land and cottages on it. 

None of the campsites on this trip had proper privies due to the fact that it is a forest reserve/non-operating provincial park. This means that the park staff doesn’t have time to visit frequently and other maintenance is done by volunteer groups such as Friends of Temagami. As this area becomes more popular, do your park and pack out what you park in.

Overall it was a wonderful trip to a beautiful area. It was worth going to see Wolf lake and I definitely want to go to this area again and explore even more.

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Author Bio

Avid adventurer, nature lover and lover of all outdoor sports. Lots of canoe tripping, some backpacking, cycling, tree-hugging or any sport I can try. 

Instagram: @katietripp12

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