thanks, seems like this might not be a good idea for a fall trip if water levels are low in those little creeks!
I've traveled Mack Creek to the Wawiag River quite a few times, but this year was the first time I had any problems with it. Two beaver dams survived the winter into 2018. We had no problems getting over both dams the second week of June of 2018.
But when we tried to go from Mack Lake to the Wawiag in the first week of September we easily paddled to the first dam, but below the dam we could only paddle a hundred yards or so before the water became too shallow to continue. We attempted to bushwhack to the Wawiag, but it was just too time consuming and difficult to follow a moose path near the creek. We ended up having to turn around and go back.
I have done all of the loop except the portage between Belaire and the Wawiag and the creek to Kenny. I did bushwhack from Belair to the Wawiag where the Wiwiag enters the park. As bushwhack go it was a easy bushwhack but probably not what you would want to take while trying to do loop. In June of 2017 Darrel Brauer and I put in the Waiwiag at the park boundary and took it to Kawa Bay. It is a long river. The current helped us along but it took all day to get to our camp on Kawa Bay. The story of Darrel and my trip is in the BWJ Fall 2017 Page 68. There were no log jams on the Wiwiag at that time. It has been 15 years since I did the creek out of Mack. It had a couple of beaver dams and that is all I remember about it. About 20 years ago I tried to do the creek to Kenny and there had been a blowdown which block the creek where I came out of the last little no name lake.
Is this loop doable? A lot of the portages and such are not shown on the Fisher map but other resources seem to say it is a legitimate route. This thread is helpful but incomplete as far as this route.
This is a standby route I want to do if my paddling partner bails on me...
Long portage to Belaire, not bad
169 rod portage Belaire to the Wawiag. Has a bog in the middle of it.
Wawiag to Mack Creek, Mack creek is passable?
Mack Creek to Mack Lake
Mack Lake to Munro
unnamed creek from Munro to Kenny
Then to McEwen and out...
jbarth: "I was reading your trip to Belair Lake. Which way did you travel to get there ?Jbarth
If you are referring to my trip in 2011 I came from McKenzie Bay to McKenzie to Belaire.
I was reading your trip to Belair Lake. Which way did you travel to get there ?
That’s an old thread reappearing. Long after that thread had slid off the bottom of the page I did a trip in that area.
Here is a report.
Bushwhack to the Wawiag
Just joined the chat page. I few years ago I went from Clay to the Wawaig River found the Totem marker and portaged to Belair lake on to Makenzie and back out. A great trip. Sorry I am so late with this info.
quote Bushwacker: "The creek from Belaire to the Wawiag is not passable. Here's a trip report describing the full portage from the Wawiag to McKenzie. Belaire to McKenzie is a nice single track albeit long, around 3/4 mile or so.
Thanks, very helpful.
By the way, the "spirit" on the MacKenzie picto is Migizi - the Bald Eagle. There is a book one can purchase that has images and descriptions of Quetico pictos, and that is in there.
quote MagicPaddler: "Stumpy that looks like a fun trip. That looks like your aluminum tank in the picture.
Yes that's my grumman & that's me in the distance, getting the food pack through the swamp.
I read the last few parts of your trip report, the other night & loved it.
See you at wing night!
Stumpy that looks like a fun trip. That looks like your aluminum tank in the picture.
I bushwhacked from Belaire to the Wawiag in 2011 and did not get my feet wet. I sent my GPS tracks to Robin Reilly but that was shortly before he moved on. There is a bushwhack that is easier than the portage. Don’t get lost!!
This is part of the portage from Wawiag to Belaire.
The creek from Belaire to the Wawiag is not passable. Here's a trip report describing the full portage from the Wawiag to McKenzie. Belaire to McKenzie is a nice single track albeit long, around 3/4 mile or so.
I did a bushwhack out the most eastern point of Belaire angling to the park boundary then down to the Wawiag. There is a logging road/path that comes very near the park boundary and the Wawiag. I followed that logging path to where I could see bent over grass where a vehicle had driven earlier that year. The vehicle tracks were about 1 mile east of the park boundary. The last time (about 7 years ago) I was in that area in a car about 1.5 miles north of where I saw the car tracks the road was washed out. If you look at google earth you can just barely see the road where I saw the tracks. I can not make out the hunting camp.
quote MagicPaddler: "DWT
But honestly, I cannot tell if you actually did the creek that connects Bellaire to the Wawiag - it seems like you are saying you trucked around it, and then went south to the Wawiag. Is that true?
And how was the MacKenzie-Bellaire Portage?
You should read my solo trip report where I bushwhacked from Belair to the Wawiag to the logging road and back one day.
I didn't want to start a new thread, so I found the most recent one on this topic...
I've always been intrigued with hitting the Wawiag River, Bellaire Lake, and Mackenzie. If you put in at Clay Lake, you could almost make a loop via the Wawiag, Kawa Bay, around to MacKenzie, up MacKenzie, portage to Bellaire, creek to Wawiag, then back to the Greenwood Creek and Mack.
Or, even more ambitious (or perhaps insane), Wawiag to Bellaire to MacKenzie to Ferguson to Cache River, then out of the park north from where Cache River empties out. I'm not even sure the Bellaire-MacKenzie portage really exists, it is only present on some maps.
Any word on the road to the Wawiag, since late in 2011?
Can the Wawiag be done upstream, reasonably?
Anyone ever hit the Bellaire portage?
And finally... instead of using a road (you can see the logging roads on a map) to get to the Wawiag, what about following Tilly Creek from up near Hwy 11? It seems to flow down into the Wawiag, unless I am missing something. I wonder if it is navigable.
Wow...quite amazing. Thx for the info folks. Thinking I'll likely be their next summer.
I've paddled the Wawiag from Mack Creek down to Kawa Bay a few times over the past few years and the evolution of the logjams has been quite interesting.
The fall of 2007 was the first time I made that paddle. I encountered a set of rapids that had to be portaged around about 3 miles from Mack Creek. The portage also is a campsite that can easily fit two, maybe three, tents.
Between the rapids and Kawa Bay I came upon three logjams, one of which I had to portage around and the other two I was able to barely squeeze through an opening in the logs.
In the spring of 2009 I had to portage around all three of the logjams.
The Cache Bay ranger Janice told me that in the summer of 2010 there was an odd day in which the water level of the Wawiag changed a couple of feet within 24 hours and all three logjams were broken up.
I paddled the river in both the spring and fall of 2011 and found that Janice had not been telling me stories as all three logjams had cleared out. One of my paddling partners made the observation that those areas now look like a graveyard of logs as most of the logs are hugging the banks of the river.
I thought these logjams were quite large and I find it amazing that the water level changing dramatically in a short time would have enough power to break them up. The following is a Google Earth picture of one of logjams in 2009. In order to give you some perspective, the river is 75 feet wide in this photo.
Anybody ever put in some serious time fishing the Wawiag? Seems most are pushing through as quickly as possible but I think I recall someone said the fishing can be oustanding with no details provided however.
Excellent fishery. The eastern part is (as i remember) a max 15' deep and full of weed beds. Big northerns, SMBs, and a lot of eater-sized walleyes. It's actually too easy to catch fish because it's pretty much the same structure all over. The weeds were on top of the water.
We went up Agnes-Kawnipi-Mack and back through the Falls chain-Saganagons-Man chain.
Has anyone fished Mack? I vaguely remember reading that it is good. I'm seriously considering a loop from PP to Mack then the Wawiag. Seems like a good adventure.
We did the trip from Kawa to Mack in '07 or '08. It was about a 4 hour ride, a couple portages on the right. There were log jams, but they didn't impede anything. We did see a couple moose. It's really a very peaceful ride. Lots of skeeters!
With a southern breeze, you could be on Mack on day 2 from PP.
The roads are not gated. There are some posting I don’t remember what the wording was. They are not always in the best of conditions. Some times the logging company decides they want the culvert out from under the road and they take it leaving a gaping slot in the road. That would be bad if your car was on the other side when they removed the bridge. I know some of the locals know which ones they can use. I have been down the road to within 3 miles of the Wawiag 3 times and never seen another vehicle. Usually I could not see any tracks of a vehicle. Don’t run out of gas down there. Carry a shovel to fill ruts that wash out each rain storm.
I have never been in the lakes you mentioned except for Bemar but I have been on both sides of them. I have been on Mowe. When I portaged into that lake I found a local car camping at the edge of the logging road on the south side. One time I took the creek out of the north end of Trafaigar Bay North and then East to a little unnamed lake. As we paddled out on to the lake a motor boat went speeding by. So much for solitude. We did see a moose on the return trip down the creek. My point is if there is a logging road near the lake the locals will take advantage of it so check out google earth and do one portage past the lake near the logging road.
Looking at the logging road north of Elevation I would guess that road is not passable with a car or truck. Let us know if you get there.
quote MagicPaddler: "I do not think Robin will reply to you so I will give you what I believe is the situation. These are not public roads. They belong to the company that built them or the Forestry Services. Robin must get permission to use them. He and my outfitter together were able to get permission for a one time use a few years ago for Kingfisher and me to do a exploratory trip. King fisher wrote an article in the BWJ about our adventure. At that time there was a washout a little over 3 miles from where you would get to the Wawiag. We carried about 1 mile down the road then took a bushwhack through to McKenzie. A rout I do not think you want to follow. If you could get past the washout you could drive within 1 mile of the Wawiag and it is a easy walk the rest of the way.
Couple more questions.
Are these roads gated or posted or what?
Have you ever fished or have any info on the cluster of lakes just north of Bemar; Elevation, Need, Little Falls and Twinhouse lakes? I know Elevation has good lake trout fishing and can be accessed via portage from Bemar and thay all have portage links. I can see some type of logging road running by the north end of Elevation on google maps. I was right there one time but couldn't get anyone in my group to go up to Elevation and I've been kicking myself ever since for not doing it.
I had lots of cramps that night. KF gave me the rest of his water that evening and I must have drank a cup full before going to bed but that did not do the trick. I drank near 3 quarts after noon that day. One quart on the last lake we were on and I started off carrying ½ gallon. I have been told the problem may have been that I may have been low on salt.
About 7 years ago I did the trip up the East side of the park to the Wawiak . The first night was on Saganagons and the next on Mack. The only portage that was a challenge was the one into Mack. The problem is the last 100 Yd’s is on a floating mud bog in the woods. There is a way to get around the mud. If you look at a map of Mack and find the most south place on the lake is a little tale extending South West from a round body of water. When you get to the bottom of the last hill you will be about 50 yards East of the tip of that tail. If you turn left at the bottom of the hill you will be headed for the tail. There was a path that meets the tail about ½ way between the ends of the tail. It was a poor landing with brush in the way to load the canoe but better than the mud slog. There were 4 log jams on the Wawiag.
May be by next year we can use the North entrance to the Wawiag.
I remember that article. Didn't you have problems with dehydration and have to set up camp on the bushwack?
I'm seriously thinking of going north through Mack into the Wawiag for my next Q adventure. Just can't afford to do the fly in these days.
I do not think there is any on line version of the trip report. It was published in the spring of 2009 issue of BWJ. The name of the article was “The Hard Way To McKenzie”.
I thought most of that area was Crown owned land but did a little research and it appears very little of it actually is.
Do you have a link to your trip report or is it only available through BWJ by prchase of some sort? I'd like to read that!
Thanks, MagicPaddler. I remember the article. Anthony
I do not think Robin will reply to you so I will give you what I believe is the situation. These are not public roads. They belong to the company that built them or the Forestry Services. Robin must get permission to use them. He and my outfitter together were able to get permission for a one time use a few years ago for Kingfisher and me to do a exploratory trip. King fisher wrote an article in the BWJ about our adventure. At that time there was a washout a little over 3 miles from where you would get to the Wawiag. We carried about 1 mile down the road then took a bushwhack through to McKenzie. A rout I do not think you want to follow. If you could get past the washout you could drive within 1 mile of the Wawiag and it is a easy walk the rest of the way.
Robin; Will road access be available by late June 2012? Anthony
Pineknot- I have done a fly-in trip about 8 times from Ely into Clay Lake to Kawnipi Lake. This takes you through the very shallow and very zig zaggy Greenwood Creek and then on to the Waiwag River to Kawa Bay.
You start out flying into Clay Lake with 1 or 2 canoes strapped on 1 pontoon of the float plane. The Canadian flight service ( usually out of Lac La Croix) requires nesting a shorter 17 1/2 or 18 foot canoe into a slightly larger 18 - 18 1/2 footer on 1 pontoon. When you land on Clay... you go to the shoreline and unnest the canoes and attach the thwarts to both canoes.
Additionally, I have found that outfitters require that you rent the one or 2 canoes for a fly-in. When I have inquired as to why ? ... they have always told me for liablity reasons. Apparently, there have been times when flight personnel over tighten the straps when cinching down the canoes to the pontoon and canoes have sustained damage. I would certainly like to bring my own Minnesota II. This canoe rental requirement and increasingly higher fly-in rates has made a fly-in trip very cost prohbitive. I think the fly-in cost 1 way is up to around $450 - $500 or more 1 way per person.
That is unfortunate as a fly-in trip affords you a way to get from Clay to Kawa Bay in 1 day. In fact, I have made it to McKenzie Bay in 1 day but you really have to be pushing yourself to do that. You can take a bit more food on on the fly-in as you only have about 5 portages depending on log jams and beaver dams.
The water on the Greenwood River can get low after the 4th of July and I have heard that when that happens, that sometimes flights are allowed to land on Mack Lake. Back in the early 1980's I once had to drag a canoe almost 4 miles with my brother in law on the very shallow Greenwood Creek to get to the deeper Waiwag River when abnormally low water levels didn't allow us to paddle.
The Waiwag River to Kawa is a very nice paddle. There is usually a lot of wildlife and there is a descent chance to see a moose as you peek into large hidden bays that are dotted along the Waiwag.
I have not seen any campsites along the Greenwood or Waiwag Rivers so you will have to start early to get to Kawa Bay before dark for a campsite.
I think everyone ought to experience at least 1 fly-in trip into Quetico.
Here are a couple of pictures taken in July of this summer. They are taken where the river enters the park.
I went from Belaire to the logging road Robin Reilly is speaking of. I sent him my GPS tracks. I am waiting to see if they found my tracks the best way in.
I'm very interested in this area too.
I lifted this from somebody who was in there in 5-2010, "The Wawiag was very pretty at the junction of the Mack Creek and then got narrower but was a nice paddle. Two log jams and one rapids. We portaged the rapids and one log jam and picked our way through the other log jam. A very enjoyable day. Somewhat tought but just part of the adventure. Isn't that why you go to the Q?"
From the Quetico 100 Stewardship website:
June 21, 2011, Re: Mack Lake Access
Quetico Park staff were recently working in the Wawiag River, Greenwood Creek, Mack Lake area doing maintenance, planning and enforcement. The staff explored options for access to the Wawiag River from the adjacent forestry road. They have identified a suitable route for a portage-based access point from the road. We will shortly begin planning and preparation for this portage and hope to begin to develop it this fall for use next season. The staff also travelled up the Greenwood Creek to Mack Lake, clearing downed trees along the way. This route is now easily passable. For this reason there is presently no reason to land aircraft on Mack Lake. In order to access Mack Lake please use the option of landing on either Clay or Ross Lake and use the associated portages. Should water levels drop significantly over the next month the Greenwood Creek access may become inadequate and I will notify you of aircraft landing options.
Robin ReillySuperintendent, Quetico Provincial Park.
Was wondering if anyone has been on the Wawiag River between Mack and Kawa Bay in the last couple years. What was it like?