Frontenac Park Paddling Routes
Frontenac Provincial Park (F.P.P.) paddling routes can be done in conjunction with fishing, picnics or hikes, or interior camping. Day paddling usually takes place on one of the larger lakes or a combination of lakes if you wish to do a few portages. No matter what time of the year you venture out, always beware of water safety and the law. Be sure to know what is required to have with you while in a canoe or kayak. Wind and weather is sometimes very unforgiving – plan your route or your day according to your strength, abilities, the weather, and the available sunlight.
Big Salmon Lake is by far the most pleasurable Frontenac Park paddling route. It is approximately 6 km’s long with high cliffs, some steep shorelines, and some nice islands for swimming and picnics. It also has good lake trout and bass fishing when the season is open. For those who prefer shallow sandy water for swimming, there is a sandy bay half a kilometer east of campsite #4 and another beach at campsite #5.
South and North Otter Lakes near the park Office entrance is probably the second most popular Frontenac Park paddling routes. It is safer than the long, windswept Big Salmon Lake but lacks some features that some day users favour for convenience. For instance, the Frontenac Park Trail Centre has indoor washroom facilities; the carry to the water edge is easy with plenty of parking nearby; there are picnic tables in the day use area in front of the Park Office; the lake can be joined to Doe Lake by a short 341 meter portage. North Otter Lake, although outside of the park boundary, can be accessed without doing a portage; and lastly, the three lakes offer some fine bass, northern pike and black crappie fishing when the seasons are open.
Note: There is a series of lakes that the hearty souls enjoy doing if they are in shape for such a challenge.
The first canoeing loop involves 3 lakes and takes all day to accomplish. Starting from Big Salmon Lake, to Little Clear Lake which is a 923 meters portage, and then to Little Salmon Lake – Portage 856 meters. Paddle west across lake to the 974 meter portage which takes you back to the west end of Big Salmon Lake where you started from.
Another canoeing loop that is enjoyed by the fearless takes in 5 lakes, all joined with portages. It starts on Big Salmon Lake, but head easterly to the end and take the easy 491-meter portage to Labelle Lake, then east across Labelle to the short portage of 190 meters to Big Clear Lake. Labelle has good fishing for small-mouth and large-mouth bass. Big Clear is appropriately named, as you can see 40 to 50 feet down into the crystal clear water and has 30 meter granite cliffs on the south arm and west arm. It supports a good population of Lake trout and bass as well. From here, one paddles northward, then west into the west arm where you get onto the 666-meter portage to Black Lake (another good bass lake). Travel west on Black to the next portage, which is as flat as a football field, that leads you to Little Clear Lake (a good bass lake) then west to the 923 meter portage that leads back to Big Salmon Lake. This route can be accomplished in one day if the traveler starts early in the day and spends the whole day at it. There are several spots where one can pull over and stop for a swim off the rocks or a picnic.
More ore realistically, this aforementioned route is done at a more leisurely pace in 2 or 3 days, with camping at one of the sites on Big Salmon on the first day, camp on #13 on the second and then on # 9 on the 3rd day.
Note: Campsite reservations are definitely recommended from May through to October to avoid disappointment.
The previous three-lake route can also be done in 2 days and a leisurely trip over the three portages, staying at interior sites like #6 and #9. As all campsites are accessible by both water (canoe) and by trail (backpacker), one can canoe to the campsite, and then once camp is set up, you can go for several day hikes from camp, by walking one or a combination of loops.
Many park Day Users canoe or kayak to a location and then start a day hike from a location where the trail comes to the waters edge. A good example is to paddle to the Camel Lake portage, on Big Salmon Lake, where you would leave the canoe and then hike to Mink Lake Lookout, to view the spectacular landscape to the south and west.
There are a few areas, which haven’t been covered in this transcript, being the west side, north side and the east side of the park. There is one note that should be mentioned here, that in all interior lakes at Frontenac, there are no motors permitted (2 hp electric excluded), however, most of the boundary lakes you may find smaller motor boats and seasonal cottages and homes on the far shores.
On the west side of Frontenac Park, one could access Birch Lake and Kingsford Lake from Mitchell Creek or from the extreme northern end of the park at Kingsford Dam. Doing both of these lakes would entail paddling on water where there are cottages on the far shores and you would be sharing the waterway with some motorboats. The clear waters are beautiful with a few areas of bare white marble showing along the pine and maple shores. These lakes are good for Northern Pike and Bass as well as Lake Trout. The shores are rocky but still have nice places to stop for a swim and a picnic. The west side of the park is often a destination for canoe campers, who camp at #7, #8, and #11, as well it is popular with the day paddlers.
To access the northern edge of the park one could start their trip from Kingsford Dam with a portage right away to get around the creek and dam. Devil Lake sits along the northern edge of Frontenac Park. Do not misjudge this lake; it is well named when there is an east wind. This can be by far the busiest lake of the area as there are a lot of cottages and some permanent homes on Devil Lake. The lake is dotted with numerous islands, however, almost the entire southerly shore is park property. This lake has one campsite cluster on it, #10, that backs onto the small Bear Lake that has pike and bass in it. Devil Lake is known to have pike, bass, and lake trout in it, similar to most of the lakes around this vicinity. The other way to access Devil Lake is via the public launch site on County Road 10, but this would entail a 1 ½ – 2-hour paddle across the lake to get to the park side.
On the east side of the Frontenac Park lays North Buck Lake. This lake can only be accessed via the public launch on County Road 10. This gives the canoeist access to not only Buck Lake north and south but also with a short portage one can enter Slide Lake. At any time when one brings a vehicle or in this case a vessel into a provincial park one needs to be in possession of a daily permit or a seasonal permit. Slide Lake is a very secluded lake where one can see a granite rock cliff as well as wetlands. It is a nice lake to fish in seclusion for bass.
Frontenac Provincial Park sits on the most southerly tip of the Canadian Shield, called the Frontenac Axis. Typically, there are the granite based rock formations of rock outcrops, high rock ridges and your typical Canadian shield lakes, which are clear, cold-water lakes. The park is a watershed (a dome) meaning that all water in the park originates in the park and it all flows out. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna that normally can be found in both southern Ontario and north/central Ontario. There is a beautiful mix of northern and southern species. There are animal species such as coyotes, wolves, black bear, raccoon, fisher, river otter, white-tailed deer, the odd moose, osprey, bald eagles, blue heron, turkey vultures, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, blue birds, and the black rat snake.
Note: Frontenac Park caters only to the interior user, thus offers ‘NO’ drive to campsites.
Frontenac Provincial Park is open all year for day use and interior camping. It is a mere 2-½ hours drive from Toronto or Ottawa. So we are conveniently located about half way between the two larger urban centres, and is a short ½ hour or 40 km’s north of Kingston, Ontario ~ only a 1 minute drive from our Frontenac Outfitters Paddlesports Centre.
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