Length of Trip: 105 kilometres (65 miles)
Time Required to Complete Trip: 5 to 6 days
Number of Portages: 13 to 14
Arrangements for safe parking of vehicles during the canoe trip can be made with either the supervisor of the Government campground, or the operator of a private fishing camp located near the campground at the south end of Bell Bay on Nemeiben Lake.
Because parts of this trip involve possible exposure to strong winds and waves on large lakes, ample extra time should be allowed to wait out bad weather which may make big lakes unsafe to travel.
Numerous attractive natural campsites occur all along the route. Fishing for northern pike and walleye is good in all waters. Lake trout occur in Nemeiben and Trout Lakes.
Normally this trip would be made in the direction described here. It is possible, however, to reverse the direction if so desired. A certain amount of upstream paddling would be encountered in some locations, but not enough to bother the determined canoeist. For those who wish to reverse the direction of the entire trip, and for those who may choose to simply travel part way and then return via the same route, portage descriptions are given from both directions.
From the Nemeiben Lake end, this portage starts from the west side of the northern part of Bague Bay immediately south of the inflowing stream (Grid location 788456 - Map 73-P/6).
From the small nameless lake, this portage starts about 30 metres (33 yards) to the right, or south, of the outlet stream at a distinct opening in the shoreline vegetation (Grid location 785454 - Map 73-P/6).
From the small nameless lake, this portage starts on the west, or left, shore about 100 metres (109 yards) from the marshy inflowing stream (Grid location 779473 - Map 73-P/6). From the beaver pond, this portage starts from the west, or right, side of a beaver dam at the south end of the pond. Two forks to the left, near the bottom end of this portage, should be avoided as they lead to impassable marshy areas.
From the small nameless lake, this portage starts from a distinct opening in the shoreline vegetation at the extreme south end of the lake just east, or left, of a beaver dam.
From the small nameless lake, this portage starts at the end of a narrow man made channel at the extreme north end of the lake.
From Little Crooked Lake, this portage starts at a rocky cove on the southeast shore (Grid location 778499 - Map 73-P/6). The start of the trail shows as a green patch south of a sheer rock face.
From Rachkewich Lake, this portage starts from the extreme south end of the lake at a small sandy beach.
From Rachkewich Lake, this portage starts at a distinct opening in the shoreline vegetation about 150 metres (164 yards) to the west of the shallow outflowing stream. After descending the steep slope at the lower end of the trail, a narrow man-made channel is reached which leads to a small stream. If water levels do not permit launching the canoes at this point, an alternate newer trail which starts at a large pine tree on the left a few metres (yards) before reaching the man-made channel should be used. Turn left at the pine tree and follow this new trail for 45 metres (49 yards) along the valley edge, then turn right through willow thickets for 55 metres (60 yards) until the shallow stream channel is reached.
From Trout Lake, paddle and pole into the marshy, reed filled area at the south end of the bay until the hard to find inflowing channel becomes more clearly defined. Follow this meandering, narrowing channel as it eventually becomes only canoe width. Continue upstream along the narrow channel, hauling over old beaver dams and shallow rocky spots for a further distance of about one kilometre (2/3 mile) until finally a short, straight, man-made channel is found leading to the west. The actual portage (Number 6) starts at the western end of this small, 23 metre (25 yard) channel. During periods of extremely low water levels, alternate Portage Number 6A is recommended even though it is considerably longer.
From Rachkewich Lake, this portage is the same as Portage 15 for the first 355 metres (388 yards). On reaching a distinct fork in the trail, follow the left trail until it reaches the marshy meadow of the valley floor. Proceed directly across this meadow until the shallow stream channel is reached.
From the Trout Lake end, at a point along the narrow channel (Approximate Grid location 763574 - Map 73-P/11), the canoeist must portage across the marshy meadow of the valley floor to a winter trail that angles up through the trees along the west side of the low valley and connects with Portage Number 15 near its midpoint.
The canoeist should now proceed northeast to the outlet of Trout Lake. There are three sets of rapids between Trout Lake and Stack Lake.
From Trout Lake, this portage starts on the east, or right, side of the outlet about 60 metres (66 yards) above dangerous rapids.
From the quiet waters below the rapid, this portage starts on the left bank about 30 metres (33 yards) from the base of the rapids. Within about 300 metres (328 yards) the next set of rapids is encountered. Most canoeists will run these rapids which should however first be surveyed from shore. If in doubt, the canoeist should take optional portage number 8.
From the upstream end, this portage starts at a poor landing on a big flattish rock on the right shore immediately above the rapid. The trail improves back of the landing.
From the downstream end, this portage starts on the left shore at the base of the rapid at a high rock exposure. This trail is mostly used by upstream canoeists, and there are some excellent campsites along it.
The next set of rapids occurs in about 600 metres (656 yards).
This set of rapids is divided into two channels by a small island. From the quiet waters below the second set of rapids, this portage starts about 60 metres (66 yards) above the rapids on the right shore of the right, and larger, rapids.
From Stack Lake, this portage starts on sloping, bare rock about 30 metres (33 yards) below the base of the rapids on the left shore. The left channel has a Class 2 and a Class 1 rapid in it. For downstream travel only, these two rapids can usually be run after careful survey from shore.
The outlet of Stack Lake is divided by a number of small islands. The right-hand choice involves descending through moderate fast water which should present no problems to alert canoeists. If in doubt, canoeists can wade down the shallower channels on the left. The upstream canoeist should wade up the shallow channels on the right hand side.
500 metres (547 yards) below this rapid, the canoeist approaches Rock Trout Portage.
Going downstream, this portage starts on the right, or east, shore at a sandy landing 15 metres (16 yards) above the start of the rapid.
Going upstream, this portage starts on a sloping rock shelf 30 metres (33 yards) below the end of the rapid.
Numerous excellent campsites are located along this portage.
500 metres (547 yards) below this portage, the canoeist encounters another set of rapids split by an island 140 metres (153 yards) wide. The right, or southern, course is the deepest and most easily run. Most canoeists will elect to run this rapid. An alternate is to make a short carry of a few metres (yards) over bare rock on the left channel. Going upstream, the canoeist should make a short carry of a few metres (yards) over bare rock on the right channel. At the outlet of Mountney Lake there are several minor rapids which most likely would require wading or lining for upstream travel.
This portage starts on the northeast, or left, shore in a cove 125 metres (136 yards) above the main rapid. A shorter 100 metre (109 yard) alternate starts immediately at the head of the rapid and, after climbing a steep embankment, joins up with the longer alternate.
Going upstream, this portage starts on the right bank at a steep embankment at the foot of the rapid.
There are intermittent minor rapids below the end of this portage which are not dangerous, and which can be run by the alert canoeist. Some wading or lining may be necessary at times of very low water, and for upstream travel.
After entering the west end of Nipew Lake, travel in a generally northeasterly direction to the narrows leading to Hayman Lake. there is considerable current in these narrows, leading to a class 1+ rapid (Grid location 058720 - map 73 P/10). Wading or lining would most likely be required for upstream travel.
Be sure to select the most easterly outlet from Burgess Bay of Hayman Lake.
NOTE. The first obvious trail on the east side of Burgess Bay IS NOT the portage trail, rather it is a five kilometre (three mile) winter road which by-passes both Great and Little Devil Rapids.
From Burgess Bay of Hayman Lake, this portage starts in a cove on the north or left side 60 metres (66 yards) above the rapid.
From the quiet waters below Great Devil Rapids, this portage starts in a cove 135 metres (148 yards) below the rapids on the right, or northwest, shore.
From the quiet waters below Great Devil Rapids, this portage starts in a small cove on the north or left side 70 metres (77 yards) above the rapid.
From Devil Lake, this portage starts in a cove on the north, or right, shore immediately below the base of the rapids.
A shorter version of Little Devil Portage exists on the right, or south, shore. This involves two shorter portages as shown on map 73-P/10, but these have not been surveyed.
There is a Saskatchewan Government campground on the east shore of Devil Lake (Grid location 170680 - map 73 P/10), and road access to Otter Rapids and Missinipe.
From the south end of Devil Lake, this portage starts on the east, or left, shore just after passing a prominent rock and immediately to the west of the Water Surveys building located at the head of the rapid.
From Otter Lake, this portage starts on the east, or right, side in a quiet cove at the base of the rapids. Below the cove there is considerable fast water.
Canoeists planning to end their trip at the bridge across Otter Rapids need only portage 350 metres (382 yards). There is an excellent Government campground at the point where the portage crosses Highway 102. Others will complete the portage and paddle on to Missinipe Townsite on Walker Bay at the west end of Otter Lake.
At Missinipe, the end point of this trip, there is a Saskatchewan Government campground. There are also several fishing camps, an air charter service and a small general store. Radio, airplane, telephone and highway communications are possible with La Ronge which is situated 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the south.
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