Destination: The Quetico Canoe Country

Southern Ontario's boundless boundary waters

Photo by Mike Monaghan

Photo by Mike Monaghan

When Americans think of prime canoe country, they think Boundary Waters. And they're right. But why stop at the border? Crossing into Ontario, starting with Quetico, opens an unlimited wealth of canoe country. This is what the Boundary Waters are justly famous for, only less crowded, less regulated, and with more options. This is not hype. Stop in at any Ministry of Natural Resources office in Ontario and start browsing the racks of canoe route descriptions: dozens upon dozens of canoe routes laid out for the taking. Quiet lakes, forested portage trails, river systems, all of it full of loon talk, great fishing, moose, idyllic campsites, and boreal wilderness. Don't want to take on the challenge of conjuring a trip from scratch? Start with a Quetico outing under the auspices and direction of the Provincial Park Service. There are 3,000 miles of canoe trails in the Quetico park alone. But do yourself a favor and don't stop with that. Try the White Otter Wilderness, the English River country, or strike farther north to 1,600 miles of canoe trails in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. Get lost for a week, or a month, and then follow the chain of trip inspirations from there.

Beta: Create your itinerary, from a few days to a month. Varied water--lakes, rivers, whitewater, portages, the whole package. Prime time to visit Quetico canoe country is June to Sept.

Info:,, Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario, Kevin Callan; Canoe Routes of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

This story first appeared in Canoe & Kayak Magazine.