BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is one of the pillars of tourism in the Red Lake area, with paddlers coming from as far as Japan and England to spend anywhere from just a few days to 60 days navigating the 2,000 km of maintained canoe routes.
For the average local, time off is usually reserved for a warmer getaway, not a “stay-cation,” resulting in a surprisingly large number of residents who have yet to explore the park and experience its abundant wildlife and rich history.
With help from Doug Gilmore, park superintendent at Woodland Caribou Provincial Park and Harlan Schwartz, owner of Red Lake Outfitters, The Northern Sun News brings you a variety of canoe trips to get you started—whether you’re a paddling rookie or a canoeing veteran; looking for a short weekend adventure or a longer excursion.
Canoe ’n’ Camp. Leano Lake is a popular push-off point for the park. Begin here and paddle to base camp at Kilburn Lake where you can spend a day or two fishing for walleye and lake trout. You may even see a moose or two. Retrace your route back to Leano Lake.
3 to 4 Day Loop. Put in at Leano Lake access point. Travel south into Kilburn Lake and around into Middle Kilburn. Head north into Upper Kilburn, northwest into Paull Lake and continue working your way back east through Elephant Head, Boot Jack, Bunny and back out to Leano Lake. Keep a lookout for mother caribou and their calves.
Fly in, Paddle Out. Experience the park as the eagles do by flying from Red Lake, alighting on Donald Lake and canoeing back to Johnson Lake for a pick up. Alternatively, land on Haggart Lake and make your way back to Leano Lake access point. Each of these voyages will take about four or five days.
Experience History. While the whole of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is steeped in history, no route more so than the Bloodvein River, one of just 39 nominated and designated Canadian Heritage Rivers. This route flows into Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg and was used for fur trade around a hundred years ago. Bloodvein River has also been of great significance to First Nations for thousands of years as evidenced by the number of pictographs found along the way. It begins as a flat-water voyage and becomes a true whitewater trip once you leave Ontario. Depending on skill level and stops, this excursion can take anywhere from ten days to two weeks.
Visit www.ontarioparks.com/park/woodlandcaribou for maps and other route information.
Photo by Gary McGuffin