The south part of Algonquin has some excellent areas, some of which are far enough away to avoid the large crowds seen on Canoe and Smoke Lakes.
This three-day route takes you through Smoke Lake, Ragged Lake, Big Porcupine Lake, Phipps, Kirkwood and Pardee Lakes, Harness Lake, Head Lake, Cache Lake, Tanamakoon Lake, and then back to Smoke Lake.
- Total Distance: About 45km
- Number of Portages: 12
- Total Portage Distance: 6.3km
- Longest Portage: 1640 meters
Ragged lake is always a highlight on my trips to Algonquin. Although this route doesn’t give you too much time to see and explore it, the lake is still beautiful and calm, and often teeming with wildlife. It is not uncommon to see bald eagles, moose, and other animals.
After the portage to Head Lake, travel down the creek and then to your left will be a peninsula. There is a site located there, on a quiet bay, and on the other side is a beautiful waterfall. The bay is a great place to swim, and you can (carefully) climb up the first part of the falls!
Cache lake is a beautiful lake, although lined with cottages all around. Although anything is beautiful after a 1.6km portage.
The whole route is fairly beautiful and aside from the beginning and end portion on Smoke and Cache lakes, fairly devoid of people. It seems the portages scare off all but the bravest of travellers. I’ve only done this route once, but we were able to see several moose grazing around the portages. In one case, we actually had to wait for the moose to finish up so that we could cross, which made for an excellent and long photo session!
You may have noticed the 12 portages needed to do this route. Two of these are over a kilometer, and the longest one is over a mile long. If you’re ok with this, the route is excellent!