3 Amazing Bush Plane Adventures in the Northeast

Travel by bush plane is a northern outdoor experience that everyone should budget into their bucket list. To be dropped off on a remote lake with your gear tossed off the plane and only a quick goodbye—and good luck—by the pilot before they take off and leave you vulnerable to the elements is an unnerving, exciting, and uplifting experience.

Northeastern Ontario has some great bush plane packages. Each one has top wilderness destinations, experienced pilots, and one incredible view beyond the pontoons. It’s from above that you can actually see this vast and wild this landscape as the elaborate ecological masterpiece that it is—a rich tapestry of old-growth conifer forest, interspersed with a scattering of birch and poplar, and prominent elongated bands of exposed bedrock jutting out between a labyrinth of lakes, creeks and rivers.

Here are my best choices for the Northeast.

Temagami’s Lakeland Airways

Lakeland Airways offers countless hotspots in Temagami to drop you off. There are remote cabins perfect for a fishing adventure and a labyrinth of canoe routes. But the ultimate destination is Scarecrow Lake and Ishpatina Ridge. Once you’ve reached the lake and hiked up the ridge top, you get bragging rights to clambering up the highest point in Ontario. It stands 693 meters above sea level. You can either fly back from Scarecrow or take a week-long canoe trip down the Sturgeon River to return to the air base on Lake Temagami.

Sudbury Aviation

Cessna Preparing For Takeoff

Sudbury Aviation is only four hours from Toronto and with them you have a lifetime of lakes and rivers to explore. Paddlers regularly use their service to access the Spanish, Mississaugi and Wanapitei Rivers. Anglers also have a dozen remote outpost camps to choose from. My preference is Dua and Upper Dua Lake. There are two camps on Dua and one on Upper Dua. Dual Lake has incredible bass fishing. I’ve caught some huge pike there as well. But it’s Upper Dua’s speckle trout that I prefer, especially when caught on a fly rod. I’ve even been dropped off on Upper Dua and taken a week to paddle and portage back to Onaping Lake or even down the Wanapitei River.

Cochrane Air Service

Paddling a northern river that empties into James Bay is the ultimate adventure. Cochrane Air Service can help make it happen. The Kesagami, Wakwayowkastic and the North French Rivers are great choices. There’s nothing like paddling to the Bay and catching trophy brook trout along the way. They also have a long list of remote cabins to book and cast a line for walleye, pike and trout. One of my all-time favourites is Audrey Lake. The lake itself has walleye and pike but a bush hike to the Bad River provides some incredible brook trout angling.

About Kevin Callan

Kevin Callan is the author of fifteen books, including the bestselling The Happy Camper, and a popular series of paddling guides. He has been a key speaker at all the major outdoor events for over 25 years. Callan is also a frequent guest on radio and television and a regular contributor to Explore and CanoeRoots Magazine. He is a winner of several National Magazine Awards and film awards and was listed as one of the top 100 modern-day explorers by the Canadian Geographical Society. He was also made Patron Paddler for Paddle Canada.

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