Algonquin – Erables Lake

Number of days: 4
Portages: 14 (round trip)
Access Point: #29 Kiosk Lake
Visited: August 2020

For our annual trip to Algonquin this year, we planned a rather ambitious route to Erables Lake. Erables is the french word for maple, but shouldn’t be confused with Maple Lake, which is located just north of Erables Lake. Perhaps because our route was so challenging or maybe we had such a great time at Misty Lake last year, but we decided to extend our Algonquin trip by an extra day this year.


We left Toronto just after 1:30p.m on Friday to beat the traffic. Except there is no beating the traffic on a Friday before the long weekend. We arrived in North Bay just after 6:30p.m. After checking into our hotel, we met up with P, K, E, and M and went for dinner at Cecil’s since they had an outdoor patio.

We woke up bright and early this morning at 6:15a.m. The hotel typically includes a buffet breakfast, but because of the pandemic, has switched to a brown paper breakfast. We headed down to pick up our breakfast and then returned to our room to get changed and finish packing.

We left the hotel at 7:30a.m and arrived at the Algonquin Outfitters right when it opened at 8:00a.m. We were the first people there, which was great because today was likely going to be busy. We picked up our life jackets and paddles and headed to our access point at Kioshkokwi (Kiosk) Lake.


From Algonquin Outfitters it’s another 30min drive to the park office and access point. We checked in to collect our park permit and then headed down to the water to find our canoes. There’s a nice pebble beach to load your canoe and launch off of.


We hit the water just before 10a.m and canoed southwest along Kiosk Lake for about an hour. It was hot outside (27°C felt like 31°C), but wasn’t too humid. The lake was nice and calm, which made for an easy paddle. This was probably our longest stretch of paddling along our route.

The lake turns into a marshy area before leading to our first (of seven) portages. There’s a small beach area that made it easy to get your canoe in, but hard not get your shoes muddy. The portage (775m) was relatively flat with a few muddy sections and leads to Maple Creek. We’re not efficient enough packers to take the canoes and gear over in one go and it usually takes us all two trips to carry everything over. Somehow every year we manage to take more stuff.


It was a nice paddle through Maple Creek, but the small and narrow creek presented its own series of obstacles: beaver dams and shallow areas. We crossed over one beaver dam along the way to the next portage (190m).


The portage was short and sweet and we were back in Maple Creek in no time. It was a short paddle to reach the next portage (90m), which was also relatively flat.


We hopped back in the canoe and continued along the creek. There is a small waterfall right beside the next portage marker (630m). This was the only nice thing about the portage. The terrain was rugged and involved a few ups and downs. At the end of the portage there’s a (really shitty) campsite with minimal tree cover, limited seating, and no flat spots for a tent (unless it’s deeper in the bush). We took a small break here to eat some snacks (got to lighten the load) before heading back out on the water.


We were back in the water and had to cross over another beaver dam. There were also some steep turns and I ended up in some branches before paddling backwards out of harm’s way. Maybe this was a warning sign for what was to come: the next portage (805m). This was our longest and most brutal of the portages. Near the start there’s another campsite, which looked pretty decent. It had a nice seating area, a few flat spots of tents and you could hear the rapids. The only downside is that you don’t get much privacy being beside the path. The path was rugged and involved a steep ascent up a hill, but levels out towards the end and leads to a nice flat rocky overcrop.


We continued paddling along Maple Creek and had to cross over yet another beaver dam. There were an insane number of rocks we had to dodge. They are often hard to spot as they are just below the surface. We even got stuck on one. K was able to get out of the canoe on another rock, and push our canoe off it, before hopping back in. If that other rock wasn’t there, we’re honestly not so sure what we would have done as the water was deep. It was a bit tricky getting out of the canoe at the portage marker as the area was rocky and quite deep. The portage itself was a walk in the park compared to the previous one. The entry portage in and out of Maple Lake is brutal. There are large rocks near the shoreline, but the water itself is quite deep, making it a bit challenging to dock your canoe and unload your gear.

We initially reserved a site on Maple Lake, but when P was booking the canoes, the guy said Erables Lake was better. I was able to switch our reservations to Erables as there was still some availability (perhaps it wasn’t too surprising since it’s hard to get to). Once we entered deeper waters on Maple Lake, we refilled our water bottles. This was our first real opportunity to refill our water since Kiosk as we didn’t want to take any chances with Maple Creek.

It was about a 30min paddle across Maple to reach our final portage (170m) into Erables Lake. Luckily the portage was short and relatively flat as we were getting tired. Once we were back on the water, we just had to find a site.


Turns out the first site on the map along the Eastern shore was free. It didn’t have a nice beach area and it was a bit steep from the shore to the site, but it had an awesome seating area, was sheltered from the wind (this would be key for the next few days), spacious, and had some decent flat spots for our tents. But just to be safe that this was the winner, K and I paddled to the opposite site since it was still free, but it was on a slope and the seating area around the fire pit was terrible. The site next to this was occupied and some lady said the rest of the sites in this area were taken, except for maybe two at the very end of the lake. P and M ventured further and confirmed that the following few sites were taken.


We returned to our original site, unloaded the canoes, and set up shop for the next three days. We set up our tents and put a tarp above them as the forecast was calling for a lot of rain tomorrow.


We then started a fire and cooked some dinner. We were exhausted. We started our journey just before 10a.m and arrived at our site at 6:30p.m.


I was the first one up at 7:45a.m. I set my chair up by the water and started writing up my notes from yesterday while they were still fresh in my mind. K got up shortly after and we just enjoyed the views from the lake (before it started raining).


It started to lightly rain around 8:30a.m. P got up and the three of us set up a larger tarp over the seating area around the fire pit. We then went on a mission to gather as much dry wood as we could before the rain picked up. According to the weather forecast, we were expected to receive 20-30mm of rain today.


Once everyone was up, we made breakfast under the safety of the tarp. The boys went out on the canoe to refill our water bottles. When they returned, we started a fire to warm up. Our goal was to keep the fire going all day (and really, what else were we going to do in the rain?).


The rain picked up later in the morning and didn’t let up until the later afternoon. We were surprised to see other paddlers out on the water during the rain storm. We counted seven canoes that went by at various points throughout the day. That could not have been fun. At around 6p.m it started raining again and continued for the entire evening. Needless to say, we went to bed pretty early as there wasn’t much else to do. It continued to rain throughout the night and overnight the temperature dropped to 13°C.


It was cold, damp and overcast when I woke up this morning. I waited in my tent until everyone else woke up to venture out. We started a fire pretty much right away and still had a decent amount of dry wood left from yesterday. We had a lazy morning by the fire eating a late breakfast.

In the early afternoon, P, E, K and I went for a canoe ride around Erables Lake. The nice thing is that most people left yesterday (in the rain!) so we were able to explore 6 of the 11 campsites on the lake, these are circled in red on the below map. Our site is circled below in purple.


The general consensus: our site was perfect for the weather we had on Sunday (as we were quite sheltered from the wind) and our group size. There were some other nice sites with better views of the lake, but there were also worse sites with a limited seating area and minimal tree cover. Overall we did pretty well.

When we returned from our excursion, we got dinner ready. We spent the remainder of the evening by the fire and started to do some light packing for tomorrow. We figured we’d get an early start to the day as it would be a long paddle back to Kiosk.


It took us nearly nine hours to get from Kiosk to Erbales on Saturday. Since we were a bit concerned about the weather and conditions on the portages from all the rain on Sunday and overnight on Monday, we decided to wake up super early at 5:50a.m. We didn’t even bother making breakfast and figured we could eat along the way.

By the time we finished packing and had loaded all our gear onto our canoes, it was 7:30a.m. It was a smooth paddle across Erables. It was misty outside and the clouds were low in the trees, giving us a sense of urgency to not dilly dally and to stay close together. The first portage (170m) was quick and easy. There’s a nice shallow beach to exit and enter onto Maple Lake. While we were paddling along Maple Lake we spotted two eagles.


The one benefit of all the rain was that it made the water levels higher along Maple Creek. This was great as we could just shimmy over some of the beaver dams instead of getting out and pushing your canoe over them. We still had to cross over three of them though. The one downside to it being overcast, was that it made it challenging to spot large rocks just below the surface of the water. We got stuck on one of these again, but luckily K and M were behind us to dislodge us from the rock.


The conditions on the portages were not too bad considering all the rain we got over the past couple of days. There were definitely some muddy sections though. But our packs were noticeably lighter, which made it easier to try to dodge the mud puddles.

Once we reached the 630m portage we took a break at the garbage campsite there to eat some breakfast.


We were making really good timing navigating through Maple Creek and with the portages. Before we knew it we were on Kiosk Lake. The paddle through Kiosk was brutal. It was cold and windy and we were going against the wind. But it wasn’t raining, so we couldn’t complain too much.


After a solid hour of paddling, we were back on the beach. We were much quicker on our return journey to Kiosk (8 hours compared to nearly 9 hours to get to Erables Lake on Saturday). I guess the fear of rain is a good motivator.

Now to drive home. We stopped in Huntsville for dinner to break up the drive. The one benefit of staying a day longer in Algonquin is that we didn’t have to deal with the typical long weekend traffic jams.

Despite the weather, we still managed to have a good time in Algonquin. It helped that we brought tarps and were able to stay dry. Things could have been a lot worse. At least we didn’t have to paddle in the rain. Turns out, the weather back home in Toronto was even worse with rain on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.


Return here for our complete list of Algonquin adventures.

38 thoughts on “Algonquin – Erables Lake

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Algonquin is one of my favourite places in Ontario. It’s so incredibly scenic and very peaceful, especially in the interior. We were lucky that we had fabulous weather on our paddle in and that we were prepared for the rain. It also helped that we had good company.

  1. Lookoom says:

    It’s a part of Algonquin that I don’t know, it was nice to discover it from the tip of your canoe, and I didn’t even need to paddle. Thanks for the trip.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s amazing how much of Ontario you can explore by canoe. It’s also a great way to leave the crowds behind. There’s something nice about not being about to see or hear your neighbours while camping. Thanks for reading.

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, your photos are truly stunning and so is the are you are canoeing through. It’s one of the things I haven’t had a chance to try out yet, but would love to give it a go. There are many beautiful lakes in Sligo perfect for a paddle. Thanks for sharing your adventures and have a good weekend 😊 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Exploring the area by canoe is such a different experience than hiking. We’ve been doing a lot of hiking this year, so it was nice to give the legs a break and instead give the arms and shoulders a workout. The other benefit of travelling to your campsite by canoe as opposed to hiking in is that you can bring more stuff with you. It’s a nice way to escape from city life and just enjoy nature. Thanks for reading and enjoy your Thanksgiving.

  3. Ab says:

    What an adventure! I love that rain or shine, nothing stops you all from having an adventure. Algonquin really is quite the gem and so lucky it is relatively close to Toronto – regardless of the annoying drive on the 400 to Barrie. What I’d give for that heat, long days and scenery right now. Happy thanksgiving!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Visiting Algonquin has become an annual summer tradition for us. Canoeing to your site is such a different experience than car camping. It’s a nice way to escape from reality and the crowds and just enjoy nature. We usually visit over the Civic Holiday long weekend and this year we decided to come home on Tuesday instead of Monday to avoid the long weekend traffic. It worked out pretty well. Raining while camping is never ideal, I’m just happy that we came prepared and didn’t have to canoe in the rain. Otherwise I’m not too sure we’d come back next year. Take care and Happy Thanksgiving as well. Hope you were able to make the most of the nice weather (and fall foliage) this weekend!

      • Ab says:

        When our son is older and can help carry the literal weight, well give canoeing and portaging a try. It sounds like quite the adventure. We’ve been lucky that in our 17 years of camping, only had less than a handful of rainy weekends. They are never fun but they do make an interesting memory!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I have no idea how people can canoe and portage with little kids. I struggle to carry my own stuff, let alone extra stuff for other people. But then again, we’re not the most efficient packers and somehow always manage to bring more stuff with us every year. This year we splurged and bought lightweight camping chairs and brought those with us. No regrets. The great thing about Algonquin is that there are so many different options for campsites and trips. You can find a secluded site where you don’t even have to portage. It’s such a neat type of camping experience.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We got the Helinox beach chairs. They were a bit pricey, but we’ve gotten a lot of use of them this year when we went to Algonquin and the Kawartha Highlands. It’s just nice to have some back support after a long day of paddling in a canoe.

  4. Oh, the Places We See says:

    Lovely place. Lovely shots. And even though I’ve never been canoeing, you now make me want to do so. I’d love to see scenery like this, scenery that’s probably only accessible by water. Thanks for posting!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve done a lot of hiking and car camping this summer, so it was nice to shake it up and explore a different side of Ontario by canoe. It’s very peaceful being out in the middle of nowhere and away from civilization. It’s the perfect place to social distance. We contemplated returning in the fall as I’m sure it’s even more beautiful up in Algonquin with all the leaves changing colour, but I’m not too sure I could handle paddling in the cold and wind. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a reason that we come back to Algonquin every summer. It’s such a beautiful area. Travelling to your campsite by canoe is such a neat way to explore a different side of the park and get away from other people. Despite the rain, we had a wonderful time. We’ve already started planning our trip back to Algonquin for next summer! Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The great thing about Algonquin is that there are so many options in terms of a canoe (or inflatable boat) route. We typically pick a route that has narrow rivers and creeks in the hopes of seeing a moose and I just find it much more scenic than paddling across a massive lake. We try to come every year and pick a different route each time.

  5. alisendopf says:

    Okay – this is my dream canoe trip! Thank you for sharing and for all tbe details. Wow.

    Question – to canoe all around there, how many days should I devote? Or would the outfitters have maps and trip guides?

    I am heartened to know that it’s not that busy. Bowron Lakes in BC sells out almost immediately and it’s a daily race to the next campsite… not too much fun.

    Thanks again!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You could spend anywhere from one day to several days or weeks in Algonquin. It really depends on the canoe route you choose and preference. The longest we’ve stayed is 4 days. You can find a map of the park here:, which has the option to get a waterproof map. The other great thing about Algonquin is that there are several outfitters scattered around the different access points. Sometimes they are located down by the water, if not, most of them provide some sort of delivery option. It’s very convenient. We usually pick an access point in the northern part of the park, which is more secluded and away from the crowds.

      • alisendopf says:

        Thank you so much for the great advice. I agree – it’s best to drive a bit more to get to a more secluded spot. Alright – this has moved up way higher on my list. Again – I appreciate your help.

      • alisendopf says:

        Really? Do tell! I know NOTHING about Ontario provincial parks. I feel like I should have known more about Algonquin. To be frank, it looks like such a huge geographical area, I’m having a hard time getting a grip on where to start. I think it’s the same for people coming to Alberta’s mountains. SO much to do – but where to go with limited time.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Agreed!! I’ve been to Alberta twice and still feel like I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of trails. If you visit Ontario, I would highly recommend Killarney Provincial Park. The scenery is just breathtaking, and it offers a wide range of activities, including canoeing. There is also a multi-day hiking trail, La Cloche Silhouette, that is supposed to be amazing.

  6. bernieLynne says:

    I did one multi day trip back in 1977 and we keep talking about doing another one — one of these days we need to find an experienced set of friends to go with us and take off. Lots of lakes in Sask to explore.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always good to have at least one seasoned backcountry expert in the group. And someone that is really good at tying knots! We’ve done a lot of hiking this year, so it was nice to do something different like canoeing.

  7. eltiodetdot says:

    Do you have any thoughts on the 2nd site on the eastern side of Erables (the site on the point)?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      As it happens that was one of the sites we explored while staying on Erables last summer. Because of all the rain from the day before, most other campers hightailed it out of there so we pretty much had the lake mostly all to ourselves. Naturally we took advantage of that and paddled to the other sites to check them out. The 2nd site on the eastern side of Erables is quite nice and one of the better sites on the lake.

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