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fishonfishoff
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08/14/2018 06:51PM
We spent the whole last week paddling the Nym, Dore, Sturgeon, Jessie, Batch loop. We decided to do Quetico because of the 1-10 people ratio when compared to BWCA. I think the ratio is more like 10-1! We realize it is the busy season and it is a popular route, but we have never seen this amount of people anywhere on the USA side.

We set up camp one day on a small island on Jesse. Before the day was over, we had four other campsites within 100 yards of ours plus at least one other within 500 yards! There were quite a few others that wanted to crowd in, but paddled on. Every day we paddled by numerous occupied sites, plus other canoes. Talking to a nice elderly couple on Batch, the gentleman called Jesse "The KOA of Quetico".

Enough of my rant... The weather was great, the fishing was fantastic, food was superb, no one got hurt and everyone had a great time.

FISHONFISHOFF
 
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OldGreyGoose
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08/14/2018 07:23PM
No it's not! Luck of the draw, really. I've camped there about three times and it was NEVER busy! By the same token I've had my choice of sites at times on popular lakes like Quetico, Jean, Russell, and many others during peak , but had to take a crappy site on some "out of the way" lakes. Go figure. You never can tell...
--Goose
marsonite
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08/14/2018 09:04PM
Hey FOFO, my wife and I were in the Quetico in the same time frame, and had a similar experience near the entry point especially. We headed for Sturgeon out of Batch and really didn't lose the crowds until Lonely. Our second campsite was on Maria....we had stopped about 3, exhausted, and about six loud guys pulled up to a site not 300 feet from us. No way was I going to pay Quetico prices to hear those guys blabber, so we went to an island site and felt like we were alone.

We were on a 2 week trip. Once we got past Lonely, it was great. We saw one party on Sturgeon, one party on Tanner, both in the distance. Then we went two days without seeing a soul. One party on Kahsh. Came back through Russell (via Kahsh) and started running into people again. Saw 11 groups between Russell and Twin Lakes where we camped, and the next day saw over 15 groups between there and Batch.

It's my second trip out of the north and I've had similar experiences both times. I went that way because I didn't have time to get an RABC, but I don't think I'll go in from the north again. Might as well save a buck and go to the BW unless you have the time to get into the interior.
Jackfish
Moderator
 
08/14/2018 09:22PM
"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." ~ Yogi Berra
08/14/2018 10:45PM
I was on Nym, Batch, and Pickerel the second week of July and had 2 days where we saw no one...that would be like camping on Basswood in the BWCAW and not seeing anyone.

It is really luck of the draw. One year we barely saw anyone then camped on Burt and almost every camp was taken...I feel your pain.

T
QueticoMike
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08/15/2018 09:01AM
How were the water levels?
marsonite
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08/15/2018 11:19AM
QueticoMike: "How were the water levels?"

There was enough water to get up Deaux rivere but I think they’re falling fast. Seemed to get dryer as we went north
Thwarted
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08/15/2018 01:33PM
Wow, that's a new one to me. The busiest I have seen the Q was Quetico lake on the 4th of July and that wasn't near what you describe. Hope that isn't a trend. I plan to take my family there early next August.
Thwarted
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08/15/2018 01:36PM
BTW...was Sturgeon busy past the narrows and how the trip overall?
Eyedocron
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08/15/2018 02:36PM
We did a similar trip 3 years ago and the only crowded places we encountered were on Batch Bay and Russell Lake just below Grand Rapids. One a short day travel in and the other one of the nicest places in the park. This was late July.
fishonfishoff
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08/15/2018 03:58PM
marsonite: "QueticoMike: "How were the water levels?"


There was enough water to get up Deaux rivere but I think they’re falling fast. Seemed to get dryer as we went north"


Marsonite was right. Water levels made the river passable but if it drops much, it could cause a few headaches.
FISHONFISHOFF
fishonfishoff
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08/15/2018 04:00PM
Thwarted: "BTW...was Sturgeon busy past the narrows and how the trip overall?"


The entire trip went great except for the amount of people. We only cruised through the upper part of Sturgeon and never stayed there. We did see 2 young couples at one of the portages on Sturgeon. Would love to do another trip in Quetico if I knew we would have more solitude. It took us an extra 5 hours each way to get there instead of an Ely trip, and don't feel it was worth the extra cost and time.

FISHONFISHOFF
TomT
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08/15/2018 07:28PM
I think you'd experience what you're looking for in Sept. or Oct. July and August are the peak. Look at it this way - if there weren't a lot of people showing up in the peak season we could possibly lose Quetico to developers.
AmarilloJim
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08/16/2018 08:00AM
TomT: "I think you'd experience what you're looking for in Sept. or Oct. July and August are the peak. Look at it this way - if there weren't a ;ot of people showing up in the peak season we could possibly lose Quetico to developers. "
+1
Banksiana
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08/16/2018 09:48AM
Solitude in peak season requires that you get off the main routes. On the north end of the park the big, easy to access lakes lead to high concentrations of folks (likewise the easy travel of the Maligne flowage and Agnes Lake). I usually enter from the south and manage to spend most of my nights on lakes I have to myself. The price of solitude involves some long travel and difficult portaging to lower the chance of company. That being said on my last 8 night trip (in early July) I shared lake privileges (but only with one other group) on three nights on three different lakes.
WilderWes
Guest Paddler
 
08/16/2018 09:55AM
One possible explanation for all the canoeists - from a Canadian's perspective - is that another very popular wilderness canoeing destination in Northern Ontario, Temagami, is experiencing a summer of forest fires and parts of the parks within the area have been closed to visitors. If people had time booked off for a canoe trip in Temagami, I could see them viewing Quetico as an alternative paddling destination in spite of the 12 hour driving distance between the two.

While Algonquin Provincial Park is a much closer alternative paddling destination to Temagami, it is a very busy and popular park which requires you to camp only on the lake you specified for each night when you booked your reservation and has signs on campsites and portages, and so I think the types of paddlers that enjoy Temagami would find more in common with Quetico.

Of course, if most of the people the OP was encountering were from the USA, then this explanation has no merit at all.
mapsguy1955
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08/16/2018 11:49AM
TomT: "I think you'd experience what you're looking for in Sept. or Oct. July and August are the peak. Look at it this way - if there weren't a lot of people showing up in the peak season we could possibly lose Quetico to developers. "
+1 AMEN to TOM
Oneofmanyblessings
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
 
08/17/2018 09:01AM
I agree, Quetico is very overcrowded.

Stay in the BW. I hear the fishing is better there, as well. :)
OldGreyGoose
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08/17/2018 03:15PM
I love hearing these "crowded" stories. You ought to camp on the Canada side of Birch Lake down by Prairie Portage and watch the endless stream of canoes heading up the US side. Groups of 10-14, 4-7 canoes all together. It's an hoot! I'll stick to Queticio, even though it's fished out. ;-)
--Goose
TomT
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08/17/2018 05:20PM
Personally I like to get to the interior as quickly as I can. Start early and keep paddlin'. No fishing on the first day for me. Usually I'll see many canoes and camps the first and last days of a trip. Other than that it's pretty quiet. But this is in early Sept.


carmike
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08/19/2018 12:10AM
Interesting to hear your experience. I got out from a quick trip about two weeks ago, and our first night -- a Saturday -- was the busiest I'd ever seen in the Quetico.

My wife and I just had our first daughter, so I can't get away for 7-14 days like I used to. This one was only 3 nights, so we couldn't get far into the Q. We stayed at Shade Lake our first night, just north of North Bay. It was packed...and loud. First time in many Q trips that I thought a BWCA trip would've been just as good.

After that, on Sunday and Monday night, it was much better. I do know Shade is a busy lake, as I've been through there more than once and have always seen people, but I wasn't prepared for multiple people paddling by our site, hearing multiple people talking around the lake, having multiple canoes fishing the lake, etc.

It was still good. :)
fishonfishoff
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08/19/2018 08:49AM
Normally we have been going into Boundary Waters in Sept and have seen few people except for an exit date on Seagull Lake on a beautiful weekend. We have gong on the Mudro/ Crooked/ Moosecamp loop in early July and have seen more people than the Sept trips, but not too bad. I was thinking this Quetico trip would be similar or less crowded than the July trip in BWCA, but it was 3 times as crowded.
Long story short...... We all had a great time, fishing was fantastic, and weather couldn't have been any better! Love the entire area, just wish it was many hours closer. "Maybe the long drive and time between trips lets me appreciate it that much more."

FISHONFISHOFF
user0317
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08/20/2018 08:12AM
Early last June I took a trip to Lonely Lake in the Quetico. When we put in at Nym, I was astonished to see a group of roughly 27 putting in at the same time. So far as I could tell, they were a group of kids from a local school. I don't know if they had some sort of approved exception to the maximum group size or not, and I figured it wasn't my business. I could only see 3 adults with them, and the rest were teenage boys (so you can just imagine the noise). They were paddling these massive canoes that were wide enough in the middle for 2 people to sit side by side. It took at least 3 kids to carry one across the portage.

For obvious reasons I wanted to put some distance between us, but the guy I was paddling with prefers to travel a little slower than I do. As luck would have it, we were leap-frogging this group at the portages. I have never canoed around so many people, and I was astonished by the noise and chaos of having so many people on the portage trail at once. I was afraid of our gear getting mixed in with theirs, and simply getting down the trail was really difficult.

What impressed me however, was how efficient these kids were, and how quickly they were able to get across the portage trails. At the risk of sounding un-patriotic I can't imagine a group of high-schoolers that large from America having it together that well, with only 3 adults supervising. For all the worrying I did about being stuck behind this group, I can't fairly say that they slowed me down too much. Even though every-other-word we heard from them was a curse-word, they were all really polite when we talked to them.

At Jesse Lake, they must have headed to Oriana, as we continued south to Lonely, and we spent the rest of our trip not seeing another group, until we hit Batch on the way back. For the rest of the trip their language was a running joke between my partner and I 'Tom, can you get me the f$ck!ng pan, so I can make some f$ck!ng pancakes!'. Obviously it would have been disappointing if we ended up camping anywhere near a group that large, but once we put some distance between us, it was just an amusing memory.
jdddl8
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09/07/2018 08:17AM
I always canoe in late August and early Sept. I see many groups on the first and last days. For the other 20 days I am lucky to see double digit groups let alone communicate with them. For example this year I saw three and communicated with one in 14 days. And that was not abnormal. And I believe the number of groups that go into the heart of the Park is decreasing.
arctic
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09/08/2018 11:44AM
It's always the luck of the draw. I've had a couple of times paddling down the popular Poet's Chain in midsummer without seeing a soul. On another occasion I saw two or three groups on Camel Lake. Go figure.

The northern part of the park can be very busy because pretty much every Canadian group starts there, and there are a small number of "main arteries" heading deeper into the park that concentrate people.

The routes through the big lakes of NW Quetico are also very easy and attract a lot of people.
Banksiana
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09/08/2018 06:48PM
I spent the last week in August in the park with a friend. For seven nights we never shared a lake with another group. We talked with a tandem passing our first site in the morning and didn't see another group until the afternoon five days later.
 
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