A Welcoming Spot in the Algonquin Interior
Finding solitude in Algonquin Provincial
©Outdoor Adventure Canada
Throughout my journey
as a backpacker and wilderness paddler, I've had the occasional,
seasoned canoeist snub their nose at me when I mentioned going on
a canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park. While there are some
people who feel that there are too many crowds in Algonquin's interior,
I feel very differently. In some ways, they are right, but if you
are willing to do a little work to get to a spot where you'll have
peace and quiet, it is well worth the effort and once you get past
the first big portage the numbers are greatly reduced. I like to
hike so portages don't phase me and with them comes discovering
places of solitude.
One such place is Welcome Lake and it
is one of my favorite haunts in the park. It's not one of the lakes
easily accessed and that is what keeps it from being busy. In 2009,
we spent some time there after I had taught a wilderness-cooking
workshop for the Friends of Algonquin Park. I needed some downtime
and Welcome Lake was going to be the perfect spot. It was and we
didn't see anyone else for the three nights that we stayed there.
We used the spot as a base to explore the area and throw an occasional
line in. Here is a little more information about the lake and the
journey to get there.
Welcome Lake is a very pretty body of
water surrounded by sand beaches. Your put-in is at Rock Lake and
you can access Welcome via Pen Lake or from Louisa Lake. You can
easily complete the route from through Pen Lake to Welcome in a
day, however you are looking at about two days if you travel via
Louisa, and on through Harry and Rence Lakes.
you will be accessing Welcome from Pen Lake you will take the portage
that is on the west side of Pen about three quarters of the way
down the lake.
The entry is not always easy to see
and you'll have to paddle through an opening in the reeds. Just
look for the stronger current winding through to the portage. The
bottom here is quite sandy, which is great, because in low water
levels you might have to get out of the canoe and guide it through
the shallows. The end near the take-out is rockya pretty boulder
The first part of the portage takes
you up a 355-metre trail to the top of an old logging chute/waterfall.
Then you take the path to the left and follow it to the Galipo River,
which is really more of a creek than a river in my estimation. This
part might be muddy and at the time we went the mud was of the boot-sucking,
ankle deep variety. When you put-in at the Galipo be sure to go
to the right. Many a canoeist has mistakenly traversed the winding
and narrow river to the left, only to end up backtracking after
dealing with a multitude of beaver dams and other obstacles. You'll
arrive at the next part of the portage fairly quickly. The take-out
here was also quite muddy.
The carry from the Galipo River is 2285-metres
and is a gradual uphill most of the way. You'll cross a section
that is very muddy but logs have been put down to make the journey
a little easier. Be careful to step on the middle of the logs, as
they tend to want to flip up. By that point, you are pretty close
to your destination. The woods open up to a gorgeous sand beach,
which makes a nice spot to stop and recover from the portage with
There are several sites on the lake,
all with nice sand beaches. The lake also has a good drop off which
provides some excellent spots for trout fishing. Just be sure to
follow the rules about the size and number of fish or practice catch
If you plan to stay for a few nights
take a little time and paddle up through Harry and Rence Lakes.
It is a lovely, lily-dipping paddle into Harry with the channel
is full of blooming water lilies in the summer. Rence Lake would
be perfect for a lunch break before you turn around to head back
only drawback to Welcome Lake is the amount of small leeches in
the water. At least that is how it was when we were there. Off our
site was fine but we were at the south end of the lake and there
was a good wind keeping the waves coming into our beach. We noticed
higher concentrations on the easterly site just to the north of
We enjoyed breakfasts on the beach in
the morning and dinners in the same spot as the sun started to dip
in the sky each night. We listened to the loons and to howling wolves.
We even saw the wolf tracks on our beach in the morning. Welcome
Lake offered everything I wanted in a wilderness trip, including
time for some peaceful reflection.
As an outdoors writer, I always
wonder if my sharing my favourite spots will ruin the solitude for
me, but part of why I started Outdoor Adventure Canada was to share
information about such beautiful places. I hope that you will visit
this beautiful lake one day and enjoy it as much as we did.
Written by Laurie
Map courtesy of www.algonquinmap.com
Photos by Laurie March