Ultimate Guide to Canoe Tripping in Temagami

Start dreaming of your perfect backcountry trip now.

Discovering the wilderness of Temagami inspired my passion for wilderness canoeing. At first, the sheer number of paddling options was overwhelming: the country seems purpose-built for canoe tripping, with countless lakes, rivers and creeks linked together by ancient portages. Soon feelings of intimidation morphed into an addiction.

Temagami is close enough to be easy to access (a reasonable five-hour drive from Ottawa or the Greater Toronto Area), yet far enough away to escape the crowds of near-north canoe destinations like Killarney and Algonquin provincial parks. There’s a certain magic that comes with paddling here: dipping your paddle, walking the portages and making camp places you in a historical continuum, creating intimate bonds over space and time in a wild landscape where people have been journeying by canoe for thousands of years.

If you're looking to go canoeing in Temagami, this guide will tell you everything you need to know. There are a variety of trip options for beginner to experienced paddlers and plenty of options to keep you coming back.

Temagami Canoe Rentals

Temagami Outfitting Company

Temagami Outfitting Company offers lightweight canoe rentals, vehicle shuttles, complete outfitting and trip planning services, as well as all-inclusive guided trips for all levels of paddlers.

11 Lakeshore Dr. 
Temagami, ON P0H 2H0 
(416) 835-0963

Smoothwater Outfitters & Lodge

Smoothwater Outfitters & Lodge is one of Temagami’s original canoe outfitters based just north of the town of Temagami on Highway 11. Besides a variety of lodging options and great meals—a luxurious way to start and end your wilderness canoe trip—Smoothwater offers rentals, vehicle shuttles and complete canoe trip outfitting with top-notch gear.

34 Smoothwater Rd. 
Temagami, ON P0H 2H0 
(705) 868-6464

Temagami Outpost Inc.

Temagami Outpost Inc. offers partial and full outfitting, guided trips, and cabin rentals at their location on Lake Maskinonge in Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park. They can also help you with trip planning, connecting you with fly-in options and route recommendations. Want to improve your skills before heading out? Ask them about their canoe trip workshops.

Park at Jonas Landing and call for a pontoon or motorboat ride to the Outpost. 
(647) 504-9428

Guided Canoe Trips in Temagami

Temagami Outfitting Company

Temagami Outfitting Company offers scheduled and custom guided trips to a variety of destinations, for all ages and levels of outdoor enthusiasts.

11 Lakeshore Dr. 
Temagami, ON P0H 2H0 
(416) 835-0963

Temagami Outpost Inc.

Temagami Outpost Inc. offers custom guided trips with a guide who has a world-class designation of Wilderness First Aid Responder.

Park at Jonas Landing and call for a pontoon or motorboat ride to the Outpost. 
(647) 504-9428

Cabin Falls Ecolodge

Cabin Falls Ecolodge, owned and operated by Hap and Andrea Wilson, offers authentic wilderness experiences deep within Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. It is only accessible by floatplane and/or canoe.

(705) 732-8254

Temagami Road Access Points for Canoeing

Central Lake Temagami Access Road

This 18-kilometre-long gravel road serves as the main access for residents of Bear Island First Nation and Lake Temagami cottagers, so expect plenty of traffic. Turn west off of Highway 11, just south of the town of Temagami. There are two large public launches and a private marina. Free parking is available.

Iceland Lake

A pull-off on the south side of the Central Lake Temagami Access Road, about five kilometres from Highway 11 provides free parking for canoeists setting off on Iceland Lake.

Temagami, Highway 11

There are multiple options for launching a canoe in the town of Temagami, and paddling east (Snake Island Lake) or west (Lake Temagami). Arrange parking with Temagami Outfitting Company or Lakeland Airways.

Finlayson Point Provincial Park

This Ontario Park offers drive-in campsites, a comfort station with showers and a quiet launch site on Lake Temagami, located off of Highway 11 only a few kilometres south of the town of Temagami.

Red Squirrel Road

Turn west off of Highway 11 about 10 kilometres north of Temagami. This gravel road runs 29 kilometres to Red Squirrel Lake (free parking is available) and 35 kilometres to Camp Wanapitei at Sandy Inlet. Driving conditions vary, beware of logging trucks.

Anima Nipissing Lake

A good, 10-kilometre-long gravel road leads west from Highway 11 just south of the village of Latchford. There is plenty of free parking and a public launch.

Canoe Trip Reservations in Temagami

Six Ontario Parks in the Temagami area require permits for overnight camping for all visitors:

Study your route carefully to determine where permits are required (camping is free for Canadian residents on Crown land and conservation reserves) or work with a local outfitter. Permits are available from local outfitters, at the Finlayson Point Provincial Park Gatehouse, or through Ontario Parks’ online reservation system. For more information on how to obtain your permit online, click here.

Note: Non-residents must purchase camping permits from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for overnight trips on Crown land and conservation reserves.

Temagami Canoe Route Maps

Best Temagami Canoe Routes

There are countless Temagami canoe route options for all levels of paddlers. Many routes blend into one another, making it possible to create longer trips with more variation in terrain. Ottertooth is a great online resource for DIY trip planning or consult a local outfitter like Smoothwater Outfitters or the Temagami Outfitting Company.

Read our article about the Best Temagami Canoe Routes to find the perfect trip for you.

Temagami Fly-in Canoe Trips

If you’re tight on time and looking for a unique experience, accessing Temagami canoe country by floatplane can save you the hardship and weather-related uncertainties of setting off from the usual road-access launch sites on Lake Temagami. Wakimika Lake, Diamond Lake and Turner Lake are popular spots to start fly-in trips, giving you easy access to many of the canoe routes described above and a unique perspective on the region.

Contact Lakeland Airways (Temagami, ON, 705-569-3455) to start your wilderness canoe adventure with a flight in an iconic deHavilland Beaver floatplane. Canoe rentals are also available.

A 20-minute floatplane ride from Temagami takes you into Katherine Lake, where you will be greeted by Hap and Andrea Wilson. From there you are personally guided by canoe downriver to the unique Cabin Falls Ecolodge, a small lodge nestled in the ancient forest atop a 30-foot waterfall. Spend your days canoeing and hiking in wild Temagami.

Kayaking Routes in Temagami

Lake Temagami is one of Canada’s most intriguing bodies of water, speckled with countless islands and hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped shoreline. Those attributes lend perfectly to kayak touring. You could easily spend a week exploring Lake Temagami’s deep bays, experiencing a sea kayak destination that rivals the Great Lakes.

More options abound if you’re willing to make a few short portages to Diamond and Lady Evelyn lakes. Sea kayak rentals are available from the Temagami Outfitting Company.

Sightseeing Opportunities in Temagami 

  • You don’t need to paddle deep into the wilderness to experience some of Northern Ontario’s finest old-growth forests. You’ll encounter towering white pine while hiking the White Bear Forest trails, located in the town of Temagami.
  • For sightseeing you can’t beat the panoptic view from the historic Temagami fire tower.
  • Perhaps the ultimate experience is to book a sightseeing flight with Lakeland Airways for a bird’s eye view of the Temagami wilderness.

Accommodations in Temagami

Temagami’s Old Growth Pine by Canoe: 7 Places to Behold Giants

Part of the lure of canoeing in Temagami’s backcountry is the opportunity to get a glimpse of the ancient forest that once cloaked all of Northern Ontario. White pine is Ontario’s provincial tree and some of the best old-growth can still be found in Temagami.

Here are some of my favourite places to stand amongst the giants.

1. Temagami Island Old Growth

A series of short loop trails on the north end of Temagami Island provides easy access to tall pines, located a short one-kilometre paddle west of the Central Lake Temagami Road access point. You’ll recognize white pine for its thick, rough bark and wispy needles in clusters of five.

2. Temagami’s Wakimika Triangle

One of Ontario’s most contentious stands of old-growth white and red pine was the site of the province’s largest act of civil disobedience during a 1989 blockade. Today, the Wakimika Triangle is protected in Obabika River Provincial Park. From the trailhead at the north end of Obabika Lake you can easily spend a day hiking through giant trees and experiencing Indigenous spiritual sites on Chee-skon (Spirit) Lake.

3. Lahay Lake Old Growth Forest in Temagami

This hard to reach pocket of old white pine is worth the journey by canoe, located on the portage route between Obabika River and Nasmith Creek.

4. Blueberry Lake near Temagami

East of the town of Temagami, the Blueberry Lake Trails are the wilder sibling of the popular White Bear Forest trails. It’s a half-day paddle to reach the trails via Cassels Lake. Backcountry camping is available.

5. Island Bay on Lake Temagami

Most paddlers overlook the labyrinthine inlets at the south end of Lake Temagami. Island Bay in particular features granite cliffs and huge white pine, quiet backcountry camping and a secluded portage route to Peninsula Lake.

6. Eagle Lake

Rugged portages bar the way to Eagle Lake, located west of Anima Nipissing Lake. Your reward for a tough, multiday canoe journey is access to a stunning forest of pure red pine, identified by its smooth, warm-coloured bark and two-needle clusters.

7. Anima Nipissing Lake

Island campsites on this vast, clearwater lake offer quiet places to pitch a tent beneath towering pine trees.

Plan Your Temagami Canoe Trip Now

Temagami offers incredible canoe routes for beginners to experienced trippers plus fabulous fly-in canoe trips options. Start planning your trip now.

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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