Sunday, July 12, 2009

Woodland Caribou Solo Canoe Trip

Dates: June 12, 2009 to June 17, 2009

Paddler: Chuck Ryan (CIIcanoe)

Trip Route: Leano Lake, Kilburn Lake, Middle Kilburn Lake, Dragon Lake, Boomerang Lake, Talon Lake, South Aegean Lake, Beamish Creek, Welkin Lake, Beamish Creek, Wrist Lake, Streak Lake, Amber Lake, Nutria Lake, Mexican Hat Lake, Lunch Lake, East Lunch Lake, Bunny Lake and back to Leano Lake.

Travel Method: Canoe

Total Distance: 68.25 miles (109.8 Kilometers)

Portage Distance: 7183 meters

Total Travel Time: 39 hours & 29 minutes

Average Travel Time: 1.73 miles/ hour (2.78 km/hour)

The Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is located near Red Lake, Ontario and it covers 536,569 hectares (1,325,891 acres) making it the sixth largest park in Ontario. There are only about 800 users per year. The park was designated as a Wilderness Class Park in 1983.

The park is located in the boreal forest and it’s in the center of the Canadian Shield which are some of the oldest rocks on earth.

This boreal ecosystem is influenced by the prairie climate and has a diverse community of plants and animals. The summers are usually hot and dry.

The elusive Woodland Caribou are also found within the park.

The following are the typical boreal tree species present in the park. Jack pine, black spruce, balsam fir, tamarack and Quaking aspen. There are a few white spruce, also.

I’ve wanted to canoe this park for the past couple of years. Actually, I was going to paddle the Bloodvein River back in 1997, but the trip was cancelled due to the lack of interest on the part of some other people.

On April 25, 2009 I went to Midwest Mountaineering’s Spring Expo to see Claire Quewezence, Assistant Park Superintendent, give her presentation on the park. I was the first one in the room where she was going to give her talk so we introduced ourselves and I told her of my upcoming trip. She marked the day I would be arriving at their park office in Red Lake on her calendar.

It takes about 10 hours to drive from the Twin Cities to Red Lake, Ontario. If I wanted to visit the park office and spend a couple hours reviewing the office maps I would need to leave after work the day before I planned to drive to Red Lake. My father lives near Grand Rapids, Minnesota so if I drove to his place first that would cut off about 3 hours of that drive time the next day.

Dave Phillips whom I paddled with in Wabakimi last year also did a ten day trip to Woodland Caribou in 2008. He was kind enough to send me his route information.

While I was at the Spring Expo I bought another overview map of the park. This map has all the marked portages on it, but the map shouldn’t be used for navigation. I planned to transfer the portage information to the topographic maps I would use.

After deciding on a route I bought several Canadian Topo maps to cover the area I anticipated to travel. I ordered my topo maps from Map Town out of Calgary, Canada. This was the second time I’ve used this company to buy maps. They are inexpensive and their service has been great both times. This year I ordered the maps on-line on a Monday and by Friday they were at my door.


  1. Great trip description, I appreciate the detail. I am especially grateful for the approximate travel times from the Twin Cities.
    Happy trails,

  2. Hi - I could have sworn you had a trip report (including pictures) somewhere. Is there one?