Chinquichi is an addictive place to paddle. Between Sudbury and North Bay, the landscape is similar to Killarney Provincial Park with its white quartzite hills and turquoise waters. One of the big differences is that there isn’t a busy reservation system needed for Killarney’s interior. As an unmanaged provisional park, there are no permits required, which is a special bonus when you’re trying to plan a last-minute trip, or to travel with a large group.
There’s a public launch on Matagami Lake but a much better place to begin is on Kushagami Lake, making good use of Sportsman’s Lodge.
It’s a real bonus to stay the night before and after your trip, and having a safe place to park your vehicle. The lodge also offers shuttles to other access point. It rents canoes as well.
From Kushagami there are several routes. There is the popular three-to-four day trip heading up to Wolf and Chinquichi Lake. The first stop over is Paradise Lagoon, found along the Chinquichi River and rated as one of the top places to skinny dip in Northeastern Ontario. Wolf Lake is a popular first night camp. It’s circled in by white-quartz mountains and is on of the largest reaming old-growth red pine stands (averaging 140 years old) in Ontario. Dewdney Lake houses an old ranger cabin. The building was once used by the caretaker for the nearby firetower, but now only accommodates a large population of mice—and a ghost named Bob. The apparition is apparently the old caretaker Bob, who died a mysterious death here long ago, and his ghost remains to spook each and every trespasser.
Chinquichi Lake is the final destination before you head back to the start. It’s got a prime campsite to the southeast in McConnell Bay and a bush trial along the western shore, leading up to what’s called Elephant Rock.
You can continue on from Chinquichi Lake and link up to Temagami’s Sturgeon River. The route provides a six-to-eight day loop, combining Killarney-like views and Temagami’s old-growth pine. The rapids along the Sturgeon are rated as moderate so you don’t need to be an advanced paddler to complete the river portion.
To the northeast of Kushagami is a shorter and easier route, and not as well-traveled. Carafel Creek links up with Maskinonge. The trip then goes north into Matagamasi Lake and loops back by way of Donald Lake. Donald is an absolute gem and provides excellent fishing for bass and lake trout. If you’re looking for a three-to-four day family trip, it would be hard to find a more perfect route.