Planning the 2018 WCPP Canoe Trip


[Camp on Rostoul Lake - from my 2016 trip and one of the destinations for 2018.]


Planning and Trip Resources


The following is a list of resources for the trip from updated portage trail conditions to maps to fishing licenses etc;



Planning / Gear



  • Use MSR Pocket Rockets with ISOPRO fuel canisters to save weight and bulk over the traditional two burner Coleman camp stove we've used in the past.


Week 1 - July 30 to August 04, 2018


This year will be something new for us. In all previous years, the group has driven to the trailhead and canoed a loop of some sort, always arriving back at our starting point at the end of the trip. This has worked out very well for most of our trips out of Red Lake, somewhat less well for some of the Manitoba trips where there's a longer shared approach (i.e. Wallace or Garner Lakes). This year we hope to do a fly-in, paddle-out trip.


The first 6 days will be a group trip with 4-6 of us, while I plan to continue on for another 7-9 days solo afterwards. The main highlight of the route outlined below are the amazing landscapes we'll paddle through - most of it is brand new for Rod and Hentie, the first half will be new for Harold and  the first day or so new for myself. I'm really looking forward to the Gammon River to Hammerhead Lake, Rostoul and Haven Lakes areas. Another huge bonus of this route will be the FISHING. There is world class, ridiculous Walleye fishing the entire route, minus one or two lakes (Wrist). You will be SICK of Walleye by the end of this thing - I guarantee it. wink


The total length of the group trip is approximately 97km which includes 73km of paddling and 25km of portaging (total, including 3 trips for each portage) which is about average for us which should give plenty of time for fishing and exploring new areas.


[Overall WCPP 2018 Group Route Map. ++]


Day 1 - Monday July 30th - Drive to Red Lake, Fly-in to Royd or Gammon and paddle to Hammerhead Lake


Highlights for Day 1

  • Drive to Red Lake
  • Fly-in to either Royd or Gammon Lake
  • Beautiful terrain down the Gammon River (lots of falls!) towards Hammerhead Lake or take easier series of portages from Gammon directly into Rostoul


[Day 1.Total length of 7-12km and 6 or 7 portages totaling 800 or 950m depending if we land in Royd or Gammon Lake. There's also a slightly more easterly set of portages directly into Rostoul from Gammon Lake that are shorter if necessary. ++]

[Day 1 campsite options are plentiful in Gammon, Hammerhead and even Rostoul depending where we end up. ++]


Day 1 Details and Options

Our first day is usually pretty long and involves driving for 6-7 hours to Red Lake, followed by another dusty drive to either the Onnie or Leano Lake parking spots along the Suffel Lake road. Thanks to forest fires in early 2016, Leano Lake is likely not a great area to trip in for at least a few more years. The portage trails need clearing and the sites will be mostly burnt (although lots of trails in the burn area are apparently cleared already). Onnie Lake is a great starting point and even has loop options - but they're very limited, hence our desire to fly in and paddle out.


If we can be in Red Lake around 10:00 - which I think is possible if we start from Rod's house bright and early on Monday morning - we should have more than enough time to prepare for our early afternoon flight. Right now we're looking at a departure from Red Lake around 13:00 which puts us paddling on either Royd or Gammon by around 14:00, with at least 8-9 hours of daylight remaining. Because we always have lots of energy on Day 1, I see no issues with making a campsite on Hammerhead Lake by late evening. There are a lot of portages down the Gammon River, but these should be well traveled and will be spectacular scenery. If the weather is not optimal there are shorter options including flying directly into Rostoul or Gammon, or taking a different set of portages that don't follow the Gammon River from Gammon to Rostoul Lake. 


If the weather is crappy and we can't fly in on Monday we have a tough choice to make. Wait for better flying weather later in the day or even Tuesday morning, or drive to the Onnie Lake put-in? No wrong choice per se, but hopefully not one we have to make. If we chose to wait for later in the day or Tuesday, we simply fly into Rostoul or even Haven Lake. If we put-in at Onnie, then we will have to do some sort of loop similar to the 2016 trip, but maybe with some more exploring in Embryo and Hatchet / Douglas Lake rather than going west to Glenn Lake.


Day 2 - Tuesday, July 31 - Rostoul to Jigsaw Lake


Highlights for Day 2

  • Paddle through Rostoul Lake
  • Haven Lake WALLEYE!!
  • Jigsaw walleye, nice paddling through Gulch Lake



[Day 2 maps. Total length of ~18km and 6 portages totaling 1770m camping in Jigsaw Lake. Obviously shorter depending where exactly we fly-in or camp on day 1. ++]

[Day 2 campsites on Jigsaw (lower left with 4 sites). ++]


Day 2 Details and Options

We should spend some time on day 2, fishing through Rostoul, especially under the first set of rapids out of Hammerhead Lake. There's Walleye, Pike and Lake Trout everywhere here. Rostoul is a gorgeous, old growth lake. I've only been through the southern tip from Hansen in 2016, so I'm excited to paddle more of it. The rest of the way to Haven is a bit of a mess, but not horrible. First there's a creek to navigate - count on getting wet feet here. The final portage into Haven Lake definitely has boggy sections and is buggy too. But it's all worth it! Once you get onto Haven, you'll quickly forget the muck and bugs. This is a very interesting landscape with tons of Walleye everywhere and lots of great campsites to have a late shore lunch on. Originally I wanted to camp in Haven, but this makes for a very long day on Wednesday, so I think we should push on to Jigsaw, which is also a very nice lake loaded with Walleye.


We should try to get into Haven Lake as early as possible to give us time to fish for Walleye and have a break here. I think we should be able to get to Haven by early afternoon. We should fish Haven for a while in the afternoon, but take the 300m and 575m portages into Jigsaw Lake in the later afternoon or even the evening (weather permitting), in order to make Wednesday a lot more bearable. There seems to be up to 4 campsites on Jigsaw now (see the map above). If the weather isn't good, these sites could be challenging as this area is burnt and I don't remember seeing many tall trees when we paddled through it. (I've confirmed with Harlan that there are some workable sites in Jigsaw.)


Day 3 - Wednesday, August 01 - Jigsaw to Hansen Lake


Highlights for Day 3

  • Portages to Wrist, through the old burns
  • Fishing for Lake Trout in Wrist Lake
  • Portages from Wrist to Hansen - it's burnt since we did these last, but they were maintained in 2017
  • Hansen Lake - great campsite, lots of Walleye


[Day 3. Total length of 12km and 5 portages totaling 2465m, if we start from Jigsaw Lake. There is also the option of staying in a site between Wrist and Hansen which would shorten the day by up to 850m of portaging. ++]

[Day 3 campsites, either all the way on Hansen or somewhere in between Wrist and Hansen Lakes. ++]


Day 3 Details and Options

I think it's fair to say that day 3 could make or break us with portaging! ;) I hope we've camped in Jigsaw the day before but if we have bad weather or anything else that required us to stay in Haven Lake, we might need to totally rejig this part of our route at the last minute or have a really long day! The portages through Jigsaw and to Wrist are well marked and pretty easy travel over bare rocks, and through a burn and were even maintained last year. We've done the route from Wrist to Hansen before, but it was very tough even without the recent burn. Thankfully trail crews have been through here in 2017 to clear the route for us - this should make a big difference! ( I'm happy to note that there are at least two campsites in between Wrist and Hansen Lake, which could come in handy in case of inclement weather or tired bodies.


Day 4 - Thursday, August 02 - Unnamed or Hansen Lake to Optic Lake


Highlights for Day 4

  • Paddle through Glenn / Hansen - always lots of Walleye and great scenery there
  • Paddle the Rostoul River to Optic Lake and camp there (haven't done this before)
  • Lots of open water paddling, so hope for light winds.


[Day 4. Total length of 19km and 5 portages totaling 910m. Note that if we camp in between Wrist and Hansen on day 3, we increase our distance paddled and portages by up to 850m. ++]

[Day 4 campsite on Optic Lake - there seems to only be the one! It is further south than I indicated on the route map above, but that just means a bit less paddling. ++]


Day 4 Details and Options

After day 3, day 4 will feel much easier despite being a bit longer in total distance. The portages should be well traveled and Harold and I have done them all before - multiple times on different trips. The only fly in the ointment would be a strong easterly or northerly wind later in the day - that would suck! According to the new campsite map of WCPP there is only one site on Optic Lake, so hopefully we get it. Also note that it's likely that on day 3 we will camp in between Wrist and Hansen, making days 3 and 4 more equivalent.


Day 5 - Friday, August 03 - Optic to Telescope or Onnie Lake


Highlights for Day 5

  • Paddle through Telescope Lake and camp on the eastern edge
  • Telescope has some great scenery, good fishing


[Day 5. Total length of 13km and only 3 portages totaling 230m if we stay in Telescope. Total length of 19km and 7 portages totaling 855m if we push on to Onnie Lake. ++]

[Day 5 campsite options include three on Telescope Lake and four on Onnie. ++]


Day 5 Details and Options

Just as day 4, we don't want easterly winds on Friday! Westerlies would be fantastic. We could blow across one lake after another without even paddling. We did this paddle in 2016 and the portages get more and more traveled the closer to Onnie Lake we get. Once again, these are all Walleye lakes with tons of great fishing at all the prime spots (i.e. fast water). Telescope Lake is pretty nice. We have the option of camping in Telescope Lake, which makes Friday pretty short and easy - lots of time to fish on our way out of Optic and all the way to Telescope. Of course, this makes Saturday longer, but it's up to us what we prefer.


Day 6 - Saturday, August 04 - Telescope to Onnie Lake to Suffel Lake Road (Exit)


Highlights for Day 6

  • Section from Telescope to Onnie is nice, there are petroglyphs
  • Paddle out from Onnie is pretty scenic and Rod and Hentie haven't done it yet


[Day 6. Total length of 9.5km with 7 portages totaling 1630m or 2.5km with 3 portages totaling 1005m if we camp in Onnie Lake. ++]


Day 6 Details and Options

I think we were back in the Onnie parking lot before noon in 2016 when we camped in Onnie Lake. This is fine, but makes for a very short Saturday. Either way, it's very straightforward and well traveled between Telescope and Onnie.


Week 2 - August 04 to 16, 2018


After bidding the rest of the group "adieu" at the Onnie Lake parking spot, I am going to do something I've never done before but have been dreaming about for many years - a solo canoe trip!


[My initial plan for the solo route. I have two other options, one is slightly longer and further north and the other is much shorter in case of weird energy or bad weather. ++]


Day 7 - Sunday, August 05 - Onnie to Douglas Lake


Day 8 - Monday, August 06 - Douglas Lake to Page Lake


Day 9 - Tuesday, August 07 - Page to Indian House Lake


Day 10 - Wednesday, August 08 - Indian House to Prairie Lake


Day 11 - Thursday, August 09 - Rest day in Prairie Lake


Day 12 - Friday, August 10 - Prairie to Upper Gammon Lake


Day 13 - Saturday, August 11 - Upper Gammon to Gammon Lake


Day 14 - Sunday, August 12 - Rest day in Gammon Lake


Day 15 - Monday, August 13 - Gammon to Rostoul Lake


Day 16 - Tuesday, August 14 - Rostoul to Glenn Lake


Day 17 - Wednesday, August 15 - Glenn to Telescope Lake


Day 18 - Thursday, August 16 - Telescope to Onnie Lake


Day 19 - Friday, August 17 - Onnie to Suffel Lake Road