Canoe Camping at Point Grondine Park
Last camping season we decided to try something new and booked a site in Point Grondine Park - located near Killarney. Point Grondine is a backcountry wilderness park offering 18,000 scenic acres of landscape of old growth pine forest, river vistas, and interior lakes owned and operated by Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. Although site reservations are slightly pricier than booking at a Provincial Park, you are directly supporting the Wiikwemkoong community.
Point Grondine offers hiking trails for day-hikes, backcountry hike-in and canoe-in campsites. Our priority was canoe camping so the only hiking we did was the A-Mik-Zii-Bi Interpetive Trail which offers insights into the rich history and traditional practices of the Anishinaabek people.
As always, when planning a trip my first step was RESEARCH! I found a handful of YouTube videos and one blog that highlighted the park and trips but could not find extensive information on the tri-lake loop which is what we were hoping to explore (cue why I'm writing this). You can find the canoe routes directly on the Point Grondine Park site or Unlostify's Killarney Map (navigate to the bottom right corner).
Knowing we had a long drive from the city, we opted to book the launch-off campsite (PG1) for the first night. It's a group campsite with wooden tentpads and an epic firepit located on the access trail portage about halfway between the parking lot and the Mahzenazing Lake launch point - be prepared for a ~600m portage on gravel path with your gear to get there!
As the park does not operate on park permits, we decided on site C8 on Bejeau Lake - hoping for a remote experience and some privacy. Full disclosure, when we booked we had zero idea what the sites looked like and probably would have opted to pay more for group site CG3 had we known!
As for the canoe, Killarney Outfitters offers delivery and pickup from Point Grondine which we opted for to have a lightweight canoe for the long portages BUT you can also rent directly from Point Grondine (the canoes are stored at the access point).
Onto the Journey
If you stayed at PG1 you only have about 600m to portage to the Mahzenazing Lake Access Point otherwise you've got 1.2km from the parking lot! We were lucky enough to pick up straight from PG1 bright and early on the well maintained portage trail to launch on the beautiful still waters of Mahzenazing.
Mahzenazing Access Point, AKA Heaven
Mahzenazing Lake is a quick paddle and before you know it you have a short 110m portage over a dam, nothing remarkable of note here - it's an easy portage! The rest of the paddle transforms into river vistas alongside the Wemtagoosh Falls trail with plenty of reeds, lily pads, and wild rice to paddle through. We had to navigate two beaver dams along the route which seem to be there pretty consistently based on other trip report videos. The paddle is otherwise leisurely and you're rewarded with the rushing sound of Wemtagoosh Falls before your next portage...
Getting there, some beaver dams, some muddy portages AND Wemtagoosh Falls
If you are staying on Cedar or Lyle Lake, Wemtagoosh Falls is your final portage! The portage itself is only 50m but rocky and awkward with climbing required for shorties like me. It's a great place to stop for a hydration and snack break to soak it all in.
We carried on from Wemtagoosh Falls straight through Cedar/Lyle Lake passing by one of the more popular group sites, CG2. This is as close as we got to other humans for the entire trip as there was a large group camping out there - the site had lovely rock faces and would make for an easy backcountry canoe trip! We on the other hand paddled on by to a long and muddy portage of 1km into Bejeau Lake. It seems that the park staff are working on boardwalk along this portage but be prepared for seriously muddy conditions that add a lot of challenge to an otherwise flat portage.
I can't for the life of me remember what the launch access into Bejeau was like but that being said if I can't remember it probably wasn't noteworthy. Just like that we were off to our site C8 on Bejeau Lake.
The total trip (paddling and portages combined) from Mahzenazing to campsite C8 on Bejeau Lake took us 3 hours.
C8 Campsite, Bejeau Lake
Scroll through for sunrise and sunset views on Bejeau Lake. Not pictured here, thunderbox was a climb to get to but offered nice elevated views haha!
Our site didn't allow for good swimming but in fairness we dealt with a lot of unfavourable swimming conditions like heavy downpours and gusty winds throughout most of our trip. The sites are well maintained but noticeably less "trafficked" than provincial park sites so there were less obvious tent spots and options. In general, the flat ground is lacking with the striking Killarney landscape but we were able to make the most of it. The thunderbox or privy on this site is literally a hike/climb up depending on your height which wasn't ideal in the rainy conditions we had BUT offered lovely views, if you're into that kind of thing haha. We were treated to beautiful sunrises and sunsets from this site and were rewarded with total seclusion - not one canoe passed by on our long weekend there!
Of note, CG3 had amazing rock faces and swimming access which we made note of for future trips, attaching pics below.
We also completed the tri-lake loop as a day trip exploring the rest of the sites on Bejeau Lake, McDougall Lake, and Misery Lake. If you are staying on McDougall or Misery allow for an extra hour or hour and a half of travel and portageing from C8 (Bejeau). We completed the trip at a very leisurely rate, soaking in the sun and the sun rain, getting close to all the sites along the way. On the map you will notice a 300m Bejeau-McDougall portage - I'm not quite sure how but we managed to eliminate it (maybe high water levels) and paddle straight into Misery and actually couldn't even locate this portage. The remainder of the portages in this part of the park were quite boggy and I suffered with a case of wet socks from the surprise sinkhole once or twice but otherwise were short and unremarkable. I will note that with the remoteness of this side of the park please be sure to bring your bear spray and make noise on the trail - there was plenty of evidence of wildlife and scat! The sites were all reasonably nice, some more overgrown than others but our favourite hands down was C13 on McDougall. The tent pad/firepit of this site is located on a rock face cliff delivering epic views of the lake - attaching a photo that doesn't do it justice below.
Overall, Point Grondine offered a pristine, remote wilderness experience which we LOVED and will definitely go back to! If you get spooked by being a l o n e or find comfort in knowing there are humans nearby on the lake or paddling on by - this is not the right adventure for you. For us on the other hand, this was ... paradise.