BWCA First WCPP Trip.... Questions. Boundary Waters Group Forum: Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
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      First WCPP Trip.... Questions.     



member (13)member
01/03/2022 07:14PM  
Planning on heading to WCPP in late August of this year. As I've never been there I had a few questions for those of you who have.

First, the plan is to fly into Donald lake and exit at Leano. We've allotted 6 (possibly 7) days for the trip so there should be plenty of time to fish/explore/etc. I'm wondering about what to expect as far as burn areas (I know it's much more common than BWCA/Quetico) and also the Fly In camps in the area.

Specifically to the camps, are there areas that for the sake of solitude should be avoided? I unclear on if the number of people listed as using the park include those coming into said camps or if that's just paddlers. Same basic questions about certain lakes, from what I've read, Mexican Hat for instance is a "busy" walleye lake, but I'm assuming that busy in the WCPP isn't like what you'd find in the BWCA.

Any info on any of that, including the route being good/bad, and any other tips you'd like to add are always appreciated.

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01/04/2022 10:04AM  
If you email the park office, they can send you a map that shows the burn years. I last got one about 2 years ago so a bit out of date now. You can roughly assume in the boreal forest to have about 1 foot of new growth per year after a burn - mostly Jack pines. It was a bit of an effort, but I transferred most of the burn boundaries onto my Chrismar map so I would know what to expect as I paddled. Sadly thanks to Covid and more fires, I was not about to go. Sorry I can’t help with the rest.
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
01/04/2022 12:34PM  
During my last 5 trips to WCPP, there have been only 2 when I saw other people. Mexican Hat was by far the most crowded - I saw 2 other parties on the same trip. One group of 2 was at a campsite and the other group of 2 was paddling through. There is really no comparison between BWCA and WCPP as far as crowds.

It appears you will be traveling through burn areas and may run into some challenges as the park crews have their work cut out clearing portages and campsites. They apparently had not had the opportunity to work when I was in the park last September. I would think by August they would have the major problem areas at least passable.

As Jaywalker said, the park office can help you with your route and let you know what areas have been cleared and where you might expect issues.
distinguished member(1960)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/04/2022 03:04PM  
With all the fires last year I don't expect WCPP to be too "busy". Don't expect to find places to hang hammocks. Don't expect to see a lot of boat traffic around fly-in camps in August. Do expect a lot of blueberries in August, especially in burn areas. If the map says "seasonably shallow" August is that season. Don't expect 5 star campsites. Expect small camp sites that may not have been used for several years. Expect lots of easy firewood.

Fly-in, paddle out is the way to go. Starting at Donald, I would consider Rostoul Haven, Jigsaw, Paul to Leano. If you want solitude consider starting on Irregular Lake (muskies) and working your way back via Beamish, Welkin, South Aegean. Paul. I don't think you will see anyone on that route.

I am going in June and not really sure what to expect this year, especially early season before trail crew have a chance to clear burn areas. I plan to be flexible.
distinguished member (450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/06/2022 03:55PM  
Nix the plan of flying into Donald as it has the most cabins. I suggest a leisurely trip starting with the plane putting you on Glenn and then head through Mexican Hat and any route from there down to Leano take out. Plenty of side trips if you stayover at any lake for a day or two. Be sure you know how hard the area burned last year before you strike out.
01/06/2022 05:30PM  
All the routes mentioned are good options...if you do drop into Donald try going out the southwest corner of the lake...then a choice to go up Adventure Creek/if the water is low might be tough getting to the portages or head west to Black Otter Lake and to 3 portages which would take you into the Haggart River...a tad up hill on the 2 portages out of Black Otter......from the Haggart River into Bulging then into Haggart Lake then up Beamish Creek/Lake...choices exist into Irregular or go into Welkin...then several routes to Leano...before the last fire season, the Haggart/Beamish/Welkin landscape was burnt in the last decade..enjoy the area...the WCCP is a great place...

Blueberry trip
01/06/2022 05:45PM  
You've received a lot of good advice so far...I can't fault any of it.

I also agree that there will be many fewer paddlers this year, though those that go are likely to favor the less-burned areas so I'm not sure that will alter how busy it feels. Still, we've averaged seeing one other group per trip - for the whole trip, not per day.

A satellite tool that I think may be helpful to you (hopefully this works):


I've been using it to look at the level of recent fire damage in WCPP.

You can pick a date in the past - and you should do this because it's all white now. Like September 22nd 2021, for example, before snowfall, and a day with no cloud cover over the park.

Resolution is not great compared Bing, Google or the Ontario aerials, but you can see what got burned. In some places you can get a sense of what got hit lightly, and what got scorched to bare rock.

Comparing to, say, September 17th from a year earlier, is both informative...and a bit depressing.
01/06/2022 06:06PM  
...sorry for the header Blueberry Trip/the last time through here/2019/September we spent a good amount of time picking blueberries between Black Otter and Haggart Lake...the story of the trip got lost in cyber space...
senior member (75)senior membersenior member
01/16/2022 10:13AM  
I traveled through a lot of the suggested areas in 2019. Mexican Hat was by far the most crowded. It is the only lake we saw several other parties. Here is the link to our trip report if you are interested. It was a great trip and I suppose last year's fires have damaged the route-maybe significantly.

The Wind Rules the Day, but the Bears Rule the Night.

Have a great trip. It's an awesome area.

member (12)member
01/20/2022 12:22PM  
Park office is a great resource for planning your trip. They can help you organize a trip in and out of the burn from last year and previous years. I suggest a good mix of both,. albeit you might have few options in that regard! ;)
Consider a free download of the map for all the fire history from the past 15 years. This may help you also.
Good planning, and please let us know where you might be headed this August!
member (8)member
03/17/2022 03:44PM  
Great advice so far on this thread, I can only add my personal opinion which is what you asked for so here goes. :)

As you can see on my WCPP fire impact page, the least impacted area of your trip will be right away in Donald Lake. I love that lake - deep and cold and loaded with fish and some great campsites. It might be "busy" with lodge guests and boats but that's just the way it is on some of the bigger lakes with lodges in WCPP. When we were there last in 2019 we saw a few motorboats but it didn't bother us at all.

From Donald, Hammerhead, Rostoul, Hansen and Glenn are all pretty burnt from the 2021 fires. Mexican Hat Lake was looking pretty tired already in 2019 from pine beetles and 2018 fires and now it's looking a little browner. This isn't to discourage you but just a reality from the latest satellite imagery. The real question is how will the portage trails be? Most of them are likely OK for this year - they will become worse as time goes on after the recent burns. If you're choosing to travel from Rostoul to Haven and Wrist you will find a mix of recent and older burn and once again the question becomes the condition of portage trails. Haven Lake is a Walleye factory but all the recent burns and overuse from guided trips flying into Adventure Lake have taken some of the charm off it IMHO.

After Mexican Hat you'll travel through some more burn towards either Bunny or Kilburn depending on your route. Kilburn, Leano and Bunny all look pretty much unaffected by recent fires and all have great fishing and plenty of campsites to choose from. You are very likely to see nobody else for the majority of your trip simply because most people will be avoiding all the recent burns.
member (12)member
03/17/2022 05:28PM  
Surprised to see this post from Explor8ion. Surprised that my map is utilized on his website. Surprised indeed. ?
While the graphic he has put together is quite nice, the red is overwhelming as everyone can agree. My map draws them ( the forest fires ) less dramatically as I wanted to continue to entice paddlers to this still amazing wilderness park in the future. Unfortunately for me, the map was only ready for release in June of 2021 - just as everything was hitting the wildfire fan! The ultimate goal is to spread the word and get more to visit/ paddle/ fish this wonderful stretch of boreal forest in NWOntario.
Please do visit the websites (both of them) and check out the burn for yourself. Check out Sentinel Hub for those up to date satellite images.
My map is a free download for those who wish to just visit the park virtually as it were. Ya, all that fire really happened! A more dramatic view through the Explor8ion website - a more promising view through my map.

Please continue to consider a trip up into NWOntario and WCPP!
Give Albert a call at Goldseekers Outfitters - he'll set you up!

member (8)member
03/18/2022 08:49AM  
Hey Glen, hopefully you don't mind the graphic? I can certainly remove it if not. :)

My intent was not to discourage travel to WCPP but I do want folks to have a realistic view of things before making plans. Your map is awesome but when I showed my wife all the fire impacts on it she simply said, "oh, so lots of parts aren't burned". With the red overlay she no longer thinks that - which was my only intent. I purposefully made the image low resolution so nobody can actually use it for navigation.

And while WCPP is still beautiful I do think folks doing a once-in-a-lifetime trip might be better served going to Wabakimi or Atikaki or somewhere a little less scorched. And nobody is talking about this just yet but there are also safety issues that will be a factor into planning future WCPP trips including falling trees, messed up or nonexistent portage trails and choked waterways (fallen trees). Not every party is able or willing to add these challenges to a canoe trip.
distinguished member (450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/19/2022 11:16AM  
I hesitate to kick something that is already hurting but as has been mentioned new travelers should be warned of what conditions await them. I am a long time fan of WCPP and have a lot of journals and videos on-line. I would hate for paddlers to view them and think that is what they are going to find. Talk to Albert at Goldseekers and get the facts and he can put you in the proper place.

The bottom line is that WCPP is a different park now and since Claire Q retired things will never be the same for paddlers researching a trip to it.
member (13)member
07/18/2022 05:52PM  
In lieu of opening an new thread.... As my first WCPP trip quickly approaches, I'm finding a lack (or really none) of good maps. I have the "Adventure" map that's suggested on the official website, but perhaps due to my comfort with BWCA/Quetico maps, this one is rather lacking.

I did find the NTS website with the 1:50,000 scale maps that you can purchase but was less than impressed.

Is there another option out there that I simply haven't stumbled across yet? If yes, please share. If not, oh well... going regardless. :)

Thanks again for the help and keep up the amazing videos, I'm stoked to see it for myself.
senior member (70)senior membersenior member
07/18/2022 08:30PM  
I would recommend you check out My Woodland Journeys. While Glen is not currently selling paper copies of his map, he does have it available for download. It includes portages and campsite and I have found it quite useful. It also shows recent burn areas.

Hope this helps,
senior member (75)senior membersenior member
07/19/2022 08:05AM  
Barca: "In lieu of opening an new thread.... As my first WCPP trip quickly approaches, I'm finding a lack (or really none) of good maps. I have the "Adventure" map that's suggested on the official website, but perhaps due to my comfort with BWCA/Quetico maps, this one is rather lacking.

I did find the NTS website with the 1:50,000 scale maps that you can purchase but was less than impressed.

Is there another option out there that I simply haven't stumbled across yet? If yes, please share. If not, oh well... going regardless. :)

Thanks again for the help and keep up the amazing videos, I'm stoked to see it for myself. "

If you are still talking about roughly Donald to Leano, I have the Canadian topo quads from that area with the portages and campsites denoted but they do not include information from the most recent fires so there is that. . .If you are interested in borrowing them private message me and I'll mail them over to you. You can return them in the fall.
member (12)member
07/19/2022 08:21AM  
My website has the topographic maps available for free download as well as the big map. Just print off what sections you need for your trip!
If you want a printed copy of the big map I can do that but note the map is large (30”x42”) and is not really meant to come with you on your trips. The future may hold this map coming in a foldable double sided version for takealongs but not right now.
Cheers to your planning!
distinguished member(1960)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
07/19/2022 05:15PM  
You will do just fine with the Adventure map. Never really had an issue with them. You might have to search a bit for a portage but that is half the fun. Even with a perfect map the portage can be a little hard to find sometimes if the tree with the blaze tipped over in a recent fire. Sometimes a piece of orange tape, a small cairn, a sawn log will be your clue but the map should get you within 20-30 meters of a portage. Do you have a GPS? Topo Canada maps?
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