The Ultimate Guide To Canoe Tripping In Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park

Learn about fly-in canoe trips, access points, canoe rentals, outfitters and more.

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is set upon the province’s highest point of land and bedazzled with a myriad of interconnected waterways. It’s the centrepiece of Ontario’s Temagami canoe country, part of a vast network of ancient canoe routes on wild rivers, vast lakes and intimate ponds—all surrounded by some of the oldest white- and red pine forests on the planet. This wilderness canoe country is remarkably accessible, less than a day’s drive from Ottawa or the Greater Toronto Area.

View from high point of 2 canoes travelling on lake surrounded by forest
Explore the ancient beauty of the Temagami region. 

I love the challenge of exploring Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park canoe routes. The portages are rough, the landscape rugged—an experience encapsulated by my favourite route, chasing waterfalls on the Lady Evelyn River.

There are no guardrails here, no crowds or warning signs; only the stunning cascades of a wild river and sweat, hardship and careful paddle strokes and footsteps of humble visitors. Scroll to the bottom to see my list of the top seven waterfalls in Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park.

Person portaging a canoe up large boulder path up a hill
The portage around Fat Man Falls is one of the toughest portages in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. Photo: Kaydi Pyette.

Explore Lady Evelyn with a guided canoe trip 

View of top of waterfalls from deck
View from Cabin Falls deck. Source: Cabin Falls Ecolodge
  • Cabin Falls Ecolodge provides wilderness accommodations and custom-guided canoe trips in the heart of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. (705) 732-8254   Email:
  • Temagami Outfitting Company offers scheduled and custom guided trips to a variety of destinations, for all ages and levels of outdoor enthusiasts. (416) 835-0963
  • Wanapitei Canoe is one of Canada’s original ecotourism outfitters, with roots in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. All-inclusive paddling trips include tours to some of the area’s best waterfalls. (705) 652-3199  Email:

Lady Evelyn fly-in canoe trips 

Man with pack and paddles standing near floatplane with canoe.
A fly-in canoe trip is an unforgettable adventure. 

If you’re tight on time and looking for a unique experience, accessing Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park by floatplane can save you time and weather-related uncertainties. Florence Lake, Katherine Lake, Hobart Lake and Smoothwater Lake are popular spots to start fly-in trips, giving you easy access to many of the canoe routes described above and to Cabin Falls Ecolodge plus 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 De Havilland Beaver floatplane. Canoe rentals are also available.

Canoe rentals for Lady Evelyn 

Canoe resting on a dock in front of a lodge.
Start and end your canoe trip with excellent food and a comfortable sleep at Smoothwater
  • Smoothwater Outfitters and Lodge is one of Northern Ontario’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. (705) 868-6464
  • 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. (416) 835-0963
  • Lakeland Airways is your best bet for Lady Evelyn Provincial Park fly-in canoe trips. The air base is located on the waterfront in the town of Temagami and services the area’s best wilderness lakes. Canoe rentals are also available. (705) 569-3455

Access points for canoeists in Lady Evelyn 

  • Mowat Landing offers a free launch and parking, within a half-day’s paddle from the east end of Lady Evelyn Lake. The launch site is located at the end of Highway 558, accessible from Highway 11 (watch for the turnoff 16 kilometres north of Latchford)
  • Gamble Lake provides immediate access to the headwaters of the North Lady Evelyn River. Take Beauty Lake Road south from Highway 560, west of the town of Elk Lake. Stay left at Beauty Lake and drive 26 kilometres to Gamble Lake on a gravel road, which can be rough for low-clearance vehicles. Launching here is free but overnight parking is not recommended. If you wish to use this forest access road it's a good idea to secure a vehicle shuttle from a local outfitter like Smoothwater Outfitters or the Temagami Outfitting Company
  • Montreal River, located about 22 kilometres south on Beauty Lake Road (stay on the main road), off of Highway 560, offers good access to Smoothwater Lake and the north end of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. The gravel road is generally in good shape for most vehicles. It’s free to launch and park

Reservations for canoe trips in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park 

Campsite in forest near a lake.
Make sure you obtain a camping permit from Ontario Parks. Photo: Conor Mihell.

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park requires overnight camping permits for all backcountry visitors. Permits are available from local outfitters, at the Finlayson Point Provincial Park Gatehouse in the town of Temagami, or through Ontario Parks’ online reservation system.

Many canoe routes in the area venture into other protected areas where camping permits are required, including:

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.

Non-residents must purchase camping permits from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for overnight trips on Crown land and Conservation Reserves.

Lady Evelyn Smoothwater canoe maps

Best Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater canoe routes

Woman sitting on smooth rock shore with red canoe, looking down a lake
Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park forms the headwaters for a number of rivers in the Temagami area and is connected to four waterway parks. Photo: Conor Mihell

There are countless canoe route options in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park 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 trip planning, or consult a local outfitter like Smoothwater Outfitters or the Temagami Outfitting Company.

Looking up at old growth pine trees
The Park protects some of Temagami’s famous old growth white and red pine ecosystems.

Lady Evelyn Lake Tour 

With hundreds of kilometres of shoreline, a myriad of islands and countless campsites, Lady Evelyn Lake is a great destination for a canoe trip of a week or more. From the launch at Mowat Landing, an easy portage gets you to big water. Explore the varied shoreline of sand beaches and polished bedrock.

Options for side trips include a loop through Sugar Lake (adds at least three portages) or a visit to scenic Muskego Falls. Beware of strong winds on this route. Big water and minimal portaging make it a good destination for sea kayaking.

Maple Mountain 

Starting from Mowat Landing, head west across Lady Evelyn Lake (beware of strong winds), eventually reaching the more sheltered waters of Sucker Gut Lake. Maple Mountain is one of Ontario’s highest points of land–its slopes loom in the distance as you navigate several narrows to Hobart and Tupper lakes. The trail to the summit from Tupper Lake is a fantastic day hike. Pack a lunch and plenty of water and prepare for Temagami’s best view.

Depending on your appetite for portaging, you have several options to return to Mowat Landing; a classic route combines Maple Mountain with a loop on the North and South Branches of the Lady Evelyn River (see Trout Streams, below). Set aside at least five days for an out and back trip to Maple Mountain and a week to 10 days to add a Trout Streams side trip.

It’s possible to start your Maple Mountain canoe trip with a floatplane flight to Hobart Lake with Lakeland Airways.

The Trout Streams 

Green canoe resting on lakeside campsite with tent
The Lady Evelyn River is the centerpiece of the park, surrounded by some of the highest points in Ontario, with stands of towering pine and numerous waterfalls. Photo: Conor Mihell.

Choose this route if you love waterfalls and are not afraid of steep, slippery and rocky portages. Launch from Mowat Landing and head west across Lady Evelyn Lake to Sucker Gut Lake. A rocky arm of this scenic lake marks the outlet of the North Branch of the Lady Evelyn River. The steep portage around Frank’s Falls sets the tone for the rest of the river. Heading upstream, you’ll carry around two more scenic waterfalls and several rocky rapids. Head south at Katherine Lake, downstream on the Lady Evelyn’s South Branch—where more mountain goat portages await.

The payoff for all the effort is stunning views of cascading water, set deep in one of Ontario’s finest wilderness parks. Complete your one-week to 10-day excursion by looping back to Mowat’s Landing through the south basin of Lady Evelyn Lake.

Alternatively, hire a vehicle shuttle from Smoothwater Outfitters or Temagami Outfitting Company and continue south to road access points on Lake Temagami. For an easier, more luxurious encounter with the fabled Trout Streams, book a guided canoe trip and stay at Cabin Falls Ecolodge.

Smoothwater, Florence and Solace Loop 

Person napping under a red canoe with a dog as a pillow
Experience expansive solitude in a place where the forces of nature function freely. Photo: Conor Mihell.

Check out the northwestern corner of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park if you’re looking for solitude—and challenging canoe tripping terrain. Gamble Lake or the launch on the Montreal River are your gateways to this area; both are accessible from the Beauty Lake Road, off of Highway 560.

An excellent 12-day loop trip includes Smoothwater Lake, Sunnywater Lake, Gamble Lake, the North Lady Evelyn River, and stunning Florence Lake. From there, head south and west, making numerous portages through Bluesucker, Pilgrim and Solace lakes, back to Scarecrow Lake. If you have time, make the three-hour hike (one-way) to the abandoned fire tower on Ishpatina Ridge, Ontario’s highest point of land.

If you have less time (or less ambition to make dozens of portages) an out-and-back trip from Montreal River to Scarecrow Lake offers easier access to Ishpatina Ridge. Scarecrow Lake is also a popular destination for fly-in canoe trips.

While you’re there…

Aerial view of large lake with islands and river
Take an exciting flight with Lakeland Airways.

Don’t have time for a wilderness canoe trip? Get a bird’s eye view of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park on a sightseeing flight with Lakeland Airways (705-569-3455).

Lodging / Accommodations in or near Lady Evelyn 

  • Cabin Falls Ecolodge (705-732-8254) provides waterfront accommodations on the Lady Evelyn River, with decks overlooking a spectacular waterfall. Canoeing, nature and photography packages are available. This unique wilderness lodge is accessed by floatplane or canoe trip.
  • Elk Lake Eco Centre (877-678-2248) offers bed-and-breakfast accommodations and plenty of outdoor opportunities in the boreal forest, just north of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park in the town of Elk Lake.

7 of the Best Waterfalls in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park 

These backcountry waterfalls are worth the effort. Locate them on a map of the park and get planning your next getaway.

1. Centre Falls on the North Branch of the Lady Evelyn River features a natural waterslide through polished rock. Be sure to spend a night at the campsite overlooking the 10-metre falls, a worthwhile break in a steep and rocky portage.

2. Frank Falls tumbles directly into an arm of Sucker Gut Lake, making it a great destination for paddlers coming from Lady Evelyn Lake and the access at Mowat’s Landing. Try your luck casting for walleye in the pool below.

3. Cabin Falls is a curtain of tumbling water spanning the width of the South Branch of the Lady Evelyn River. Here you’ll find truly unique wilderness accommodations: Legendary canoe guide Hap Wilson hosts visitors at Cabin Falls Ecolodge, with stunning decks suspended above the falls.

Man in red canoe at base of large boulder portage up a hill
An example of a rugged portage trail in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park where the trail descends steeply over massive boulders to the river’s edge. Photo: Conor Mihell

4. Fat Man Falls is located just downstream from Cabin Falls—and so named for a narrow squeeze between massive boulders on the portage trail. The pinch point is just the beginning of perhaps the toughest portage in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park: the trail descends steeply over massive boulders to the river’s edge.

5. Muskego Falls is a hidden gem, located in a secluded inlet on the central portion of Lady Evelyn Lake. It’s a great side trip for lake paddlers seeking solitude.

6. Shangri-La is a magical collection of water-polished boulders, just upstream from Katherine Lake on the Lady Evelyn River. Two options exist for canoe trippers: A direct, shortcut portage, and a second route that sticks to the river, complete with a scenic campsite. Choose the latter to discover one of Lady Evelyn’s finest cascades.

7. Helen Falls is bypassed by a steep portage that’s guaranteed to make your heart pump. Take a moment to venture off the trail for a close look at the tallest waterfall on the Lady Evelyn River, tumbling through a chasm of rock.

Plan your Trip Now

Easily accessible Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is the centrepiece of Ontario’s Temagami canoe country, part of a vast network of ancient canoe routes on wild rivers, vast lakes and intimate ponds—all surrounded by some of the oldest white- and red pine forests on the planet. 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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