Ontario’s White Otter Wilderness Canoe
Remote Lakeland Wilderness North of International Falls
Explore Dashwa Narrows, Volcano Bay and Camp Mine Narrow while paddling the remote White Otter Wilderness Area. You will view Native American pictographs and towering rock cliffs while you navigate WOW’s intricate web of lakes, rivers, streams and bogs. Beaver, moose, wolves, black bear, lynx, and even woodland caribou abound in this area northwest of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. Don’t forget your fishing rod and make sure to ask your trip leader to share the legend of Jimmy McQuat’s log castle and his mail-order bride. If you have enjoyed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, maybe it’s time to head further up the trail to the White Otter Wilderness with Wilderness Inquiry.
DAY 1: Arrive at Brown's Clearwater Resort in Atikokan, Ontario, in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner with your group. Get to know each other and discuss trip expectations.
DAY 2: Head out to the Eye Lake Portage, located on the south end of Dashwa Lake. Paddle across Dashwa Lake and head towards the first island campsite. Have dinner, enjoy the fire.
DAY 3: Break camp and paddle north through the Dashwa Narrows, Volcano Bay and Camp Mine Narrows. Cross the first portage leading to the south end of Wasp Lake. Paddle north on Wasp Lake, passing through a small spillway covered with a canopy of trees. Camp this evening at an island site with a spectacular view of the western sky.
DAY 4: Pack up camp and head towards the mouth of the Gamble River. Paddle down the Gamble River into Below Bow Lake. Stop for lunch along the way and relax in the sun or take a swim. Complete two small portages to a small inland lake and spend the night.
DAY 5: Rise early and enjoy coffee and breakfast. Portage a couple of times on the trip back to Eye Lake Portage. Paddle down the Camp Mine Narrows and camp on the beach at Volcano Bay.
DAY 6: Paddle to the eastern side of Dashwa Lake for the final night. Camp on a peninsula facing to the southwest. Reminisce about the trip around the campfire.
DAY 7: Rise early and have breakfast. Paddle back to Eye Lake Portage and load in the van where the trip officially ends in the late morning. Those who used WI's transportation can expect to return to Minneapolis late that evening.
What To Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: This area lies on the Canadian Shield and is characterized by exposed granite with a thin layer of top soil, the result of glaciers scraping and grinding as recently as 10,000 years ago. Wheelchair users can expect difficulty at times (rocks, mud, logs, etc.). Generally, though, the lakes and rivers make this area quite accessible. We usually start on Clearwater West Lake and travel through smaller lakes to another large lake called White Otter.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel in 17-foot Wenonah canoes, which hold two to three paddlers, plus all necessary gear. An average day's travel consists of 3-5 hours of paddling, depending on the weather. Travel distances vary from 9-20 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days. Expect an average of 1-2 portages (short trail crossings) per day. To protect the environment, WI uses Leave No Trace camping techniques. No previous experience is needed to complete this trip.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 35 F to 95 F. Rainfall can vary, but you can expect one or two days of wet weather.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a comfortable Eureka tent. Typically, there are 3 people per 4 person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of a foldable commode chair set up with a privacy tent if necessary. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 10 to 12 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
MEALS: The fun of wilderness camping includes cooking in the wilderness, a challenge with great rewards. With plenty of fresh air and exercise, hungers are at their peak and our meals are especially good. We pride ourselves on providing healthful ingredients for simple, plentiful dishes everyone will enjoy. Count on hearty breakfasts of pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit, trail lunches of cheeses and cured meats, plenty of snacks, and wonderful stir-fries, sautés, and pasta dishes, finished off with campfire s’mores. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: If you are new to outdoor activities, you need not spend a lot of money on gear. Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary canoeing and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. If you need to borrow personal gear, that can usually be arranged.
PASSPORT: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter Canada. One blank passport page is typically required for entry stamp. No tourist visa is required for U.S. citizens for stays under 180 days. We encourage you to check the State Department website for the most up-to-date entry requirements: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/canada.htmlA note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The White Otter Wilderness (WOW) is an immense wilderness area in Ontario just north of Quetico Provincial Park. It features the same wilderness and ecosystem qualities as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. It is noted for its beautiful sand beaches and the historical White Otter Castle (a 3 story Scottish style log castle built by hand by one man - Jimmy McQuat - at the turn of the century).
The WOW is covered with lakes formed by glaciation. This country is part of the Canadian Shield, a geological formation that comprises portions of the earth's most ancient exposed rock, some of which is 3 billion years old!
Two forests, the Boreal and Laurentian forests, converge to create a unique and diversified plant and animal life. Animals that would not normally be seen together, such as the white-tailed deer and the moose, have made the WOW their homes. Many birds, such as the bald eagle, loons and over 20 species of wood warblers, use the WOW as their nesting grounds.
Humans have left their mark on the area as well. Natives have inhabited the area for thousands of years, with some human relics dating back to 10,000 B.C. The Ojibwe and Dakotas have used the intricate waterways for hundreds of years. Many of the portages (paths between lakes) were first used by native peoples. Artifacts from that period still turn up on the portages. European fur traders and missionaries first came into the area in the early 1700s. A merger of sorts developed between the European Voyageurs and the Ojibwe based on trade of European goods for native knowledge and furs. This partnership ended in the mid 19th century due to the near total extinction of the beaver population and declining interest in furs as fashion.
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No Dates Scheduled
WI leads trips to White Otter but currently has no dates scheduled. The White Otter Wilderness is just north of the Boundary Waters. If you have a group of people interested, we can set up a customized adventure just for you! Click on the "Do a Custom Trip" button on the lower right hand side of this screen.
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