According to the rumor, there are more than half a million lakes in Quebec! No wonder why Canadians, and particularly Quebecois, have developed so many water activities. Today I suggest we go over a very typical pastime that you may already know: canoe-camping, which will allow you to completely enjoy the great outdoors. A very immersive experience, the true Canadian way.
So what is canoe-camping anyway?
You’ve probably already heard the terms, only separated. So it is no surprise that this is basically about reaching your campground by canoe. Those dedicated sites are usually only reachable by boat and guarantee a complete harmony with nature. You’ll find canoe campgrounds all across our parks, and you can usually rent the boat there. Once the canoe is loaded and you got your map, you’ll just have to paddle all the way to your camping spot, which serves as base of exploration. What I really enjoy with canoe-camping is the fact that most sites only offer a few locations to set up your tent, so you could actually end up having the entire place for yourself or share it with very few comrades. These campgrounds are rustic : a few spots, a table, a fireplace and exterior toilets.
What to bring?
Apart from the camping equipment itself which you can entirely rent from Windigo, you will need several items to be able to spend your trip in total autonomy : food, water, first aid kit and so on. As far as clothes are concerned, you will need something to keep you both warm and dry. Even during the summer, nights can be quite fresh. Stay tuned, in our next articles you will find ideas of camping recipes here as well as our advice on how to pick the best knife to carry with you. Should you bring a music device, we are working on a Campfire playlist. But don’t disturb your potential neighbors of course! Finally, don’t you ever go camping without a fine local beer!
If you’re correctly equipped, you should probably carry sealed bags specially made for water sports. However if this is your first time canoe-camping and if you don’t want to invest into gear that would only be used twice or thrice a year just like me, may I suggest an alternate solution? Plain ol’garbage bag!
Trust me when I say it works: I have tested it myself! Some garbage bags can indeed be big enough to carry all of your gear. However I cannot guarantee this will suffice should the canoe turn over. In fact, turning a canoe back is very difficult, so how about two sites with no rapids, or any dangerous passages?
2 perfect canoe-camping sites to start
These are perfect for anyone with little to no experience, as you will be mostly paddling on lakes, and they include many sites where portage is not necessary. You will also be able to choose a circuit depending on how long you would like to row. For a first time, a 30 minutes to 1 hour long circuit would do the trick and it will still feel amazing! Or spending more than one day on each site would allow you to take your time as you explore the area. Personally I usually go with the first option, much more relaxing.
Mauricie National Park
My first canoe-camping experience took place at the Mauricie National Park, the perfect spot to get you started. You can rent your canoe on site (careful, though, better make a reservation, especially if you’re coming on a weekend). Moreover there are many sites available along the long shores of Wapizagonke Lake.
The first time, we were on site number 4, on the eastern side of the lake. Next year we chose site number 5, on the western side. Both are pretty much alike but I do recommend you keep to the uneven numbers for they stay sunny all afternoon. The Lake is motor-free so you will surely enjoy the calmness, away from the roaring of engines. A two night’s stay is perfect to have a very pleasant time in the area. Arriving in the end of the afternoon, you would enjoy a nice evening around the fire. Next morning, you will have all the time you need to explore the lake. The most adventurous among you could try reaching Waber Falls. It is actually a trail only accessible by boat. Along the way you will come across several lookouts before reaching this impressive waterfall. But there is nothing wrong with just paddling from one beach to the next, or even just spend some time on your own little private beach ! There is something for everyone! And before you leave this little paradise after your second night: there is nearly nothing as satisfying as admiring the rising sun while it ascends through the mists, a coffee in your hand, while a heron takes a bath, a beaver builds his dam and the entire forest slowly awakes…
To plan your own trip to Mauricie National Park.
Click here to reserve a spot for your tent. Select option “camping”, then “Backcountry Camping” as well as the date, the size of your group, the number of tents and so on… Takes only a few minutes to get it done!
Make a reservation for your canoe ! should you pick a spot relatively close to the entrance of the park, make sure to select “Picnic Shewenegan” for both departure and return.
The Poisson Blanc Regional Park
This park is getting pretty popular right now, and it is easy to understand why: this place is not just about canoe-camping; it is about staying on your own little private island! A true taste of paradise, wouldn’t you say? Apart from the campground’s boats, there are no engines as far as the eye can see. Grandeur and quiet await us… I was lucky enough to go there in autumn during the Indian summer and that was really great. Exploring the lake on your canoe is very enjoyable as you move from one island to the other. Apart from those privatized islands, many of them can be used as picnic stops for example. So you can easily plan a long loop around the lake: the farthest sites are only 10 miles away. A little piece of advice: should you arrive late at night, just camp on the beach next to the entrance and reach your spot in the morning. This is perfect for all those coming from the city at the end of the week after their day at work. You can also go on a hike in the surroundings and enjoy the view.
To make a reservation for your island. Luggage transport is available as an option. If you really want to play the adventurer, you can even reach your little paradise on a Stand up paddle!
Are you looking for a few days of a complete and guided canoe-camping experience?
We have two departures available from Rivière des Français.
If you’re already skilled, why not try the amazing Dumoine river ?
If you’re looking for a Far-North Adventure, we have 2 unique expeditions available : canoeing in the Yukon and the Arctic.