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Planning a Solo Kayak - Camping - Fishing Trip in Quetico Provincial Park.

Updated on June 15, 2015

Every year I try to spend a week canoe camping in Quetico Provincial Park on the western side of Ontario Canada, just North of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Usually for me, it is a trip with one canoe and two people. This year I'm going alone and taking my cedar strip kayak. I'd done a solo trip few years ago in September but never one in June. I like to go in early June because the fishing is usually better and the bugs are not yet out in full force, although the weather can still be cold in early June.

Quetico Provincial Park


The first thing to do was to decide on a route or area of the park I want to visit. I decided to enter the park at the same entry point I did on my last solo trip. the park has several "entry points" and to reduce overcrowding only a few entry permits per day are issued for each entry point. The quota or permits for non-residents is smaller than for residents, but I've never had trouble obtaining a permit.

I chose to enter at the same point as my last solo excursion but I decided to spend my time on a different lake. Last time I spent most of the week on Quetico Lake, a long, pretty lake with lots of shoreline. This time I chose Cirrus Lake. Similar in size to Quetico Lake it is just to the north and with two short portages. I visited Cirrus several years ago in a canoe but only spent one night. This time I would plan to spend 6 nights.

Entry permit and camping fees.

A deposit of $100 is required for camping. The regular fee for the campsite is $14.97 / day / person. The balance is paid when your register at the ranger station before you enter the park.

Be sure to choose backcountry camping.

fishing license

Along with the camping fees, if you plan to do any fishing you need to purchase a license. this can be done online also and should be, as the park offices no longer sell them.

It is required that you first purchase an Ontario Outdoors $11.94. I purchase an 8-day conservation license for $32.79 which has lower catch/possession limits. Typically 1 or 2 per day depending on species. I only keep enough to eat, and one medium sized walleye is plenty.

Getting there.

I live in Southern Michigan so the drive is about 850 miles or about 15 hours. I drive the eastern shore of Lake Superior on the way. It is a very picturesque route. So typically if I want to be on the water Saturday morning, I will leave very early on a Thursday morning and stay overnight in a hotel or the bunkhouse of an outfitter. I plan it so that I arrive at the park office in Atikokan, the city near my entry point, in the afternoon to get my permits and pay my balance of camping fees. It is usually good to leave information about your intended route, contacts in case of emergency, vehicle description, and the color of your tent (in case they need to find it from the air) with the park office. They should ask for this but if they don't, volunteer it. I some times also leave my info with a local outfitter I've used in the past. After checking into my hotel I have time for a nice dinner and a few drinks to relax and perhaps some last minute packing.

The Entry

The area of the park I usually enter is in the Northwestern section. There are two popular, main large entry points. One has a larger parking lot just off the highway, the other has a smaller remote parking lot about 18 miles on gravel roads, off the highway. The first one is at Nym Lake, which is not actually in the park, and is very convenient. The second one is at Beaverhouse Lake and is the one I chose for this trip.

A few tips for leaving your car in a remote parking lot for a week or so:

1. lock it when you leave, and remember to take your keys

2. don't leave anything in it someone may want

3. don't leave food in it a bear may want

4. leave it with some gas in the tank

5. make sure the dome light is off before you launch

6. don't park near a dead tree

This is a time when excitement takes over and you are anxious to get on the water. Also a time when you leave something you need in your car or at the launch. Oh for instance, sunglasses, extra shoes, jacket, water bottle, gps, first day paddling snack, pfd, permits or fishing license. Take your time, relax and make sure you have what you want.

My plan.

a few things perhaps you didn't realize:

campsites are primitive, which means they may have a fire ring made of piled stones with a few logs around it and a few flat spots to pitch a tent. That's it. No grills, no picnic tables, no toilets. For a toilet you need to squat over a hole you dug in the dirt, then cover it with a rock. Bring a small hand held gardening spade.

Of course you can use an outfitter to arrange all these thing and even provide all of your gear and food. What fun is that? If you choose to do that I would recommend Canoe Canada in Atikokan.

I plan to base camp for 3 nights. The numbers indicate which night. Red numbers are my first chose of campsites for the night. Yellow numbers are my second choice. It's good to make your plans somewhat flexible.

Video record of my 2009 trip


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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      It looks like a lovely place. I've been thinking about kayaking myself, and would really like to do a trip like that. Great hub.

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 2 years ago from Michigan

      I take trips that involve few portages into a large lake like Cirrus, Quetico, or Pickere, then try to base camp. Portaging the kayak is a bit more of a challenge. I have a yoke that is held on with bungi, but I might try something different this year. When I land I unpack all my gear from the hatches, and load it into a canvas duffle with shoulder straps, than pack it all back up on the other end. A bit time consuming but not too bad. I can make up the time paddling since the kayak is faster than a canoe.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 2 years ago

      Thanks for the memories. I've solo paddled Quetico a few times. Quetico and Killarney are my two favorites. I always paddle a solo canoe and it's a workout on the 10 plus portages I confront on every trip. I'm trying to picture portaging a solo kayak. How was it? Lovely Hub.

    • profile image

      greenwrench 2 years ago

      That looks like so much fun, would like to try that some day. Very nice article, good luck with the trip!!!