DayTrip: Limberlost Forest Reserve Canoe Trail

Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
483
Location
Ontario
Thought I'd post a little report about a daytrip from last season. Nowhere near the remoteness of WCPP or some of the other Canadian posts but real backcountry trips just didn't pan out for me last summer. At least I got to discover more of the local region. The Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is a neat little pocket of wilderness tucked just outside the West Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park. It originally operated as a resort in the early 1900s complete with lodges and a ski area in the winter until financial troubles closed it down in the 60s. The current owners re-envisioned the land as a premier eco-tourism centre and have attempted to keep the property as natural as possible while allowing for minimal impact enjoyment. It features 70 km of sustainably created wilderness trails that zig zag around multiple quartz outcrops, interesting rock cliffs and dozens of lakes. No hunting, overnight camping, or logging have kept the property as a real jewel of wildlife and remarkably day use of any of their trails or lakes is free to the public.
Anyway, one of their online trail guides (PDF format) mentioned a canoe day trip through a chain of lakes, the highlight of which is the largest waterfall tucked away on their property. This water-access only route means virtually no visitors to this little hideaway. It seemed like the perfect chance to escape for the day.

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After signing in at the self check-in booth and grabbing a display pass for the car, I drove into the Buck Lake Landing put-in. Right by the shore line were the remains of one of the property's old wood canvas canoes. Apparently over 10 wood canvas canoes dating all the way back to the 1930s were discovered in the bushes while owner were clearing portage trails. In the background of the pic below you can just make out the slat style seats which were very commonly found on hardworking Chestnut Prospector canoes.

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I know one day my organic wood canvas canoe will also collapse back to nature but I'm hoping to get generations of use out of it yet.
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The 70 km of trails on the property encircle most of the lakes. They are well maintained an feature boardwalks over streams or other unstable terrain. Sure makes portaging the canoe a lot easier.
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Each of the lakes are connected with very shallow gravel or beaver dams....
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Camping along the shoreline isn't permitted on the property and isn't really practical either. Most lakes along the route feature extreme cliffs and thickly forested walls. Difficult to perceive the scale of the pic below but the boulders at the bottom of this rockslide were huge and a giant white pine is thriving in the rocky soil.
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A long abandoned logging road goes through the property and is now part of a hiking trail. To maintain this crossing point, a steel culvert was installed. It is just wide enough with suffiencient water levels to float through.
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Wetlands separating Little Twin Lake from Long Lake are covered in beaver dams to maintain water levels...there were about 5 beaver dams to lift over in this area which is apparently a major fish spawning area for the chain of lakes.
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At the end of the Long Lake, the water flows down through another small gorge over Crystal falls. Since this area gets next to no visitors, and is pretty much the end of the property there is is no maintained trail network. One has to scramble over mossy rock along the creek shore to reach the falls. But tucked away is pretty little cascade, Because of the topography, my camera could only capture the entire waterfall in thirds.
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Upper third of Crystal Falls

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Middle cascade of Crystal Falls

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Final Drop of falls over rockface


I'm sure in full spring runoff the falls would look even more spectacular. Couldn't really get a pic of it, but there is just enough of an opening in the tree canopy for the noon sun to shine in. Anyway, this is an out-and-back style trip so I headed back up the chain of lakes. Here's a shot of my lashing set up with the tumpline and paddles that has become my preferred method...
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Also did a small detour and visited one of the areas known Osprey nest sites, located on a small island appropriately named after this wonderful bird. A lightning strike knocked off the canopy of a huge white pine which has since served as nesting site for the mating pair. They return every year which is a great ecological indicator of abundance of fish and overall health of the watershed in this region.
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Took a few minutes of video footage of the area too and made a quick (1min) video for anyone who's interested...
http://youtu.be/hxSoQK-7g9I

My wife says I never smile while paddling but trust me, I'm happy!
 
G

Guest

Guest
Your boat is as lovely as the lakes and waterfall. Thanks for the report. I enjoyed it!
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
Beautiful... wish i had something like that closer to me.. one disadvantage of the southern waters is that they contain so much trash and runoff. at least i get to escape to the adirondacks once a year! thanks for posting.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,457
Very Nice! What's that pattern in your yoke? Is it the wood, or a stain? It's very nice!
 
G

Guest

Guest
Thanks a bunch for that trip report Dave. I've lived in this area for years now and had no idea this little day-tripping gem was so close by. My wife and I will absolutely be checking this out this spring.

- Martin
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
A nice report about a canoe trip, they don't all have to be overnighters and I'm glad you took the time to share this one.
Your canoe is a beauty, and the picture of it next to the old worn out wood canvas Chestnut is pretty much what life is all about.
Seeing that slat seat next to the worn out shell of a canoe was sad, but I bet that canoe had seen some great days out on the lakes of Algonquin so maybe it's something to rejoice.
Sorry, wood canoes and Canadian lakes does this to me.
I also enjoyed checking out your gear. Thanks
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
483
Location
Ontario
Thanks everyone. Really is a neat little daytripping place for those in the area.

Martin - They should be open in the winter as well. I went snowshoeing on part of their trails adjacent to the small (non-operating) J. Albert Bauer Provincial Park 2 years ago, so you don't have to wait until spring to check it out. Really great terrain with elevated cliff views of Lake Solitaire. They have a small guidebook for sale at their check-in booth ($5 I think) with all their trail maps and history. Well worth it. No overnight camping but I've found their trails to be more enjoyable than nearby Algonquin Park's and you can't beat the price. I've never come across another person while exploring their property.


Memaquay- Woodburning decoration is another side hobby. Decorated the cherry centre yoke and the decks with an abstract tribal pattern inspired by Maori canoe art. Used a basic woodburning pen ($10) from a crafts store to get the dark contrast. Took a while, but I did this while the filler was curing on the canvas over the winter.


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Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,457
Very nice, I like it! I've painted some of my decks, but never thought about stylizing the yoke.
 
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