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A Welcoming Spot in the Algonquin Interior
Finding solitude in Algonquin Provincial Park
©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.

If 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 rocky—a pretty boulder garden.

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 a snack.

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 and release.

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 to camp.

The 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 the portage.

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 March
Map courtesy of www.algonquinmap.com
Photos by Laurie March

 
           
masthead photo courtesy
Laurie March

 

 

 

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