Possible Alternative Routes

I’ve been doing a lot of studying on paddling routes in the last little while and I’ve come up with two alternative routes to the one that I originally posted, which was the McCarthy Lake Route.

The thing is, with the McCarthy Lake Route, there are two long sections of the Serpent River that include rapids or falls and possible portages that could be through some rough terrain. This is not all that bad but, when you couple it with the fact that two vehicles would be needed, which means two separate parking areas would also be needed, then it starts to become a little more complicated.

Leaving a vehicle unattended for four days in what may be very isolated or remote areas is of some concern, and rightfully so, especially if those areas are accessible by ATV. Not that ATV’ers, as a whole, should be seen as trouble, but it is much easier to make a quick getaway on an ATV, and many younger folks do ride ATV’s and I will stick my neck out and suggest that the younger ATV’ers are more likely to be involved in destructive behavior.

Now, maybe some, or even most, folks have comprehensive insurance that would cover any damage done by vandals, but I don’t, and I can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for a broken windshield, or slashed tires, which in itself would be over $1,000. Just last week there was an incident close-by here that caused damage to some vehicles. As I’ve mentioned before, youth vandalism and property damage are alive and well here in Elliot Lake, so it would be foolish to encourage it by leaving a vehicle unattended in a remote area that is easily accessed by said youth.

It’s always been my feeling that, if you go looking for trouble, you will likely find it at some point. It’s not about doing things that are risky as much as it is about doing things that are downright stupid. I take risks all the time, but they’re risks that I have at least some control over. I will rarely do anything that leaves me in the position of having absolutely no control over the outcome. Flying in a plane is one of them. I don’t fly because I have absolutely no control over what could happen. Sure, there are many more car accidents than plane accidents but at least I have some control over what happens with my car. Very, very few car accidents are actually ‘accidents’. They were driver error and could have been avoided. I want that chance to ‘avoid’.

This way of thinking is much more complex than what I want to talk about here, but I thought it was at least worth mentioning as a way of explaining why I do, or choose certain ways over others.

So, having said that, I have put together two more possible paddling routes that are loops, which begin and end at the same point. That point, in my opinion, is a more secure spot to park a vehicle, meaning that it’s better than some others, not that it’s perfect.

The Depot Lake Boat Launch could possibly serve both these routes, although it better serves one rather than the other. Here are the two loops I’m talking about;

This is what I’m calling the Depot/Trout/Grandeur/Marshland Loop, since it covers all four lakes. This route is easily accessible from the Depot Lake Boat Launch, as shown on the map. You can click on the balloons for information on that particular location and you can zoom in to see more detail. You will notice that the route follows the shoreline of the lakes. In my opinion, this gives you the best overall experience for seeing both the lakes and any wildlife or physical features around the lakes that might make the trip more enjoyable. Also, some of the wider areas of the lakes will be susceptible to wind and waves, which don’t make for an enjoyable paddle in my mind.

On this route there will be ample opportunity for camping on islands and some prime fishing spots too. There are a lot of narrow passageways between the lakes and, like most areas around here, the scenery is excellent. There are a couple of small areas where cottages have been built on Marshland Lake but, for the most part, it’s all just Crown Land bush. I’ve also included a portion of the Marshland River in this route, but I’m not sure yet if it can be paddled against the current. That will be determined when I do this route. Total length of this route, if all sections are done, is about 50kms.

The second route will be referred to as The McCarthy Loop, not to be confused with The McCarthy Route, which I had going all the way down to Hwy 17 via the Serpent River. Here it is;

There are two main differences between this loop and the first one. First of all, the entrance to this loop could be one of two possibilities.You could park at the Depot Lake Boat Launch area, and carry the equipment across the road to put in on that side. This first option gives the added bonus of being able to leave the vehicle in a relatively more secure area. The second option would be to drive down the bush road to the launch point on McCarthy Lake. This option, in my opinion, is not as attractive. For one thing, the bush access road is very rough and narrow. I would not recommend it for cars. High clearance vehicles like pickups or SUV’s would be more suitable. Also, it’s close to 4kms into the bush and is quite a lonely place to leave a vehicle unattended for any length of time. For a day trip, I would say it was fine. For a four day trip, I would say you may be asking for trouble.

Now, if you choose to park at the Depot Lake Boat Launch to do The McCarthy Loop, then there is another obstacle that you will soon encounter when you begin your paddle. Just at the end of this small lake on the opposite side of Hwy 108 there is a short set of rapids that may have to be portaged. This will lead into another smaller lake and, at the end of that lake, there is a section of river which will also include some rapids or falls and portaging might, again, be necessary. After passing these two obstacles, you will then be into the McCarthy Lake system, and no further rapids will be encountered on this route.
Keep in mind, these two sets of rapids can be avoided if you want to accept the extra risk of parking at the McCarthy Boat Launch area. It’s an individual choice.

The second main difference between this route and the first one is that the emphasis will be on beach camping on this route. There aren’t as many island camping possibilities here as there are in the first route, but there are many remote beach areas that would make excellent campsites. However, fishing from the beaches would not be as practical as fishing from a rocky island, so it all depends on what experience one is looking for.

Again, the route follows the shoreline as much as possible. There is one cabin which is located on an island that, as far as I know, is Crown Land. Other than that, there are no cottages on any of these lakes and you can camp for free wherever you can find a suitable spot. This route is also about 50kms in length, if all sections are completed.

So, there are the two routes. I’ve already done portions of both these routes in day trips, but there are still unexplored areas I have not visited yet, so a camping trip to either route would allow for more time to explore the areas I haven’t seen yet.


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