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Everything You Need to Know About Fly-in Canoe Trips in Ontario

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Everything You Need to Know About Fly-in Canoe Trips in Ontario

It’s the quintessential Canadian adventure. • Credit: Source: Ontario Tourism

Getting into the wild is fast and easy

It's time for your ultimate wilderness paddling adventure vacation. Here's everything you need to know to start planning your fly-in trip.



If you are in search of absolute solitude, pristine space, incredible wildlife viewing, world-class fishing, and a vacation that truly gets you away from it all, then a fly-in canoe trip is the perfect choice for you.

It’s a trip of a lifetime. | Source: Ontario Tourism
It’s a trip of a lifetime. | Source: Ontario Tourism

After being dropped off at a remote lake or river, you’ll paddle for days on pristine waters – without seeing another person.

Real wilderness. Real easy. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Real wilderness. Real easy. | Source: Ontario Tourism

You’ll portage on ancient trails and through old growth forests, seeing signs of wildlife that will make you quickly realize you are not alone. The only sounds will be those of nature – birds singing, wolves howling and the wind blowing through the trees.

Reflect on the highlights of the day around the campfire. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Reflect on the highlights of the day around the campfire. | Source: Ontario Tourism

Evenings are spent at the campsite, enjoying freshly-caught fish, star gazing and if you’re lucky, seeing the spectacular, dancing aurora borealis or northern lights.

Whether you are an avid adventurer or new to backcountry adventures, a fly-in canoe trip is the easiest way to quickly escape deep into the wilds.

pick your park and plan your trip

The best fly-in canoe trip for you will depend on many things including your desired destination, distance, difficulty level and the sights you want to see. 

Ontario Parks offer some of the best backcountry canoe routes in the world. The top Ontario Parks for fly-in wilderness canoe trips are Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater (Temagami), Wabakimi, Woodland Caribou, Missinaibi, and Quetico (fly-in to remote access entry points only).

First pick an area that you’d like to explore, and then start planning.

You can research your route and manage all the logistics yourself or contact a local outfitter who will be happy to assist you with a guided or self-guided trip making it easy and safe to explore Ontario’s remote wilderness. Basically, an outfitter knows everything you need and does all the preparation for you. Outfitters offer:

  • Pre-planned or customized routes
  • Park permits
  • Top quality equipment and maps
  • Delicious meals
  • Fly-in options
  • Packaged guided or self-guided fly-in canoe trips

If you don’t enjoy wilderness camping, you can choose a fly-in lodge-based adventure vacation where you can spend your days exploring the endless waterways and your nights sleeping in comfort.

Temagami

Paddle in rugged, ancient canoe country. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Paddle in rugged, ancient canoe country. | Source: Ontario Tourism

Get the wrinkles out of your soul with a Temagami fly-in canoe trip. Explore this world-renowned, spectacular wilderness where the old growth white and red pine trees are so big it takes two people to hug them. There are over 4,700 km of canoes routes (approximately the same distance as from Toronto to Vancouver Island) in the Temagami region.

Temagami is an easy travel distance from urban centres, located about 4.5 hours drive from either Toronto or Ottawa. It is the gateway to Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park and the four connected waterway parks:  Obabika River, Makobe-Grays River, Sturgeon River and Solace, that make it the canoe tripping capital of Ontario.

Outfitters and/or Guided canoe trips 

  • Temagami Outfitting Company offers full and partial outfitting services, detailed route planning, permits and packages for self-guided trips as well as specialized programs for fly-fishing, whitewater, youth, women and school groups. 
  • Smoothwater Outfitters and Lodge provides full and partial outfitting packages plus excellent trip planning, permits, warm hospitality, delicious meals and comfortable accommodation pre and post your fly-in adventure.
  • Cabin Falls Ecolodge offers fully guided and outfitted canoe trips with Canada’s legendary wilderness guide and author, Hap Wilson.  

Fly-In Lodge-Based Canoe Adventures

Find solitude, adventure and connection at Cabin Falls. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Find solitude, adventure and connection at Cabin Falls. | Source: Ontario Tourism
  • Cabin Falls Ecolodge – Only accessible by floatplane and canoe, Cabin Falls Ecolodge is one of Canada’s most unique backcountry lodges in Canada. Located deep within Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park, the lodge is nestled in the ancient forest and atop a 9-metre waterfall. Your hosts, Hap and Andrea Wilson, provide exceptional hospitality plus authentic guided canoeing and hiking adventures. All equipment, permits and meals are provided.

Flight services

Loading up before the adventure. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Loading up before the adventure. | Source: Ontario Tourism
  • Lakeland Airways Ltd. is located in Temagami. You will need to provide them with the lake you would like to fly into. They can carry up to 4 passengers and 1 canoe per plane. As an example, the approximate cost for a flight to Florence Lake is $700 + HST.

Routes and Stories 

Get inspired here:

Reservations / Permits

Backcountry registration is required. This allows you to obtain a First Come First Serve interior camping permit up to two weeks in advance of your arrival date. You can also obtain your permit through a local outfitter.

Wabakimi

Find serenity paddling in the Boreal Forest. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Find serenity paddling in the Boreal Forest. | Source: Ontario Tourism

For world-class wilderness canoeing in the Boreal Forest, look no further than Wabakimi Provincial Park in Northwest Ontario. Located on the Canadian Shield, the park has over 10,000 lakes and connecting rivers that provide over 1,500 km of paddling routes. Wildlife viewing including woodland caribou, moose, wolves and eagles as well as walleye fishing is legendary. There are no roads within the park so visitors must arrive by canoe, train or plane.

The Park is located about 4.5 hours north of Thunder Bay. You can start your fly-in adventure in Thunder Bay or drive to Armstrong Station, located just outside the Park.

Outfitters and/or Guided canoe trips 

  • Wilderness North provides complete route planning and logistics services, flight in and out or paddle in and flight out, full and partial outfitting packages plus the option of comfortable accommodation instead of traditional camping.
  • Wabakimi Canoe Outfitters and Eco Lodge offers guided or do-it-yourself fly-in canoe trips, with full or partial outfitting and assistance with planes, trains and car shuttles. Each trip is custom-planned to suit your needs. Some of the best routes begin or end at their remote outposts, where you can stay a night or two. 
  • Mattice Lake Outfitters and Wabakimi Air offer fly-in canoe trips with optional cabin accommodation in Wabakimi and the surrounding area. They offer a truly spectacular wilderness setting with unforgettable fishing, abundant wildlife and great scenery.
  • Thunderhook Fly-Ins specialize in fly-in fishing trips but also provide canoeing adventures for wildlife viewing in the Park. 

Fly-In Lodge-Based Canoe Adventures

Stay in comfort deep in the wilderness. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Stay in comfort deep in the wilderness. | Source: Ontario Tourism

Flight services

Routes and Stories 

Get inspired here:

Reservations / Permits

Backcountry registration is required. This allows you to obtain a First Come First Serve interior camping permit up to two weeks in advance of your arrival date. You can also obtain your permit through a local outfitter.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

It’s a paddler’s paradise. | Source: Ontario Tourism
It’s a paddler’s paradise. | Source: Ontario Tourism

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is a backcountry paddler’s paradise offering almost 2,000 km of maintained canoe routes in the wilderness and fewer than 1,000 paddlers per season. This undisturbed Boreal Forest is home to one of the largest groups of woodland caribou south of Hudson Bay as well as is home to an abundance of moose, black bear, wolves and countless other mammals. There is excellent fishing for walleye, Northern Pike and Lake Trout. As there are no roads, a fly-in adventure is the best way to access this incredible Park.

The gateway to the Park is Red Lake, located approximately six hours (drive) or one hour (flight) from Thunder Bay.

Outfitters and/or Guided trips

Solitude. Adventure. Connection. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Solitude. Adventure. Connection. | Source: Ontario Tourism
  • Sunset Canoe Outfitting is based out of Pakuni Lodge in Ear Falls. It offers full and partial outfitting services, trip planning, fly-in options with Superior Airways, guiding services plus comfortable accommodations pre and post your adventure.

Fly-In Lodge-Based Canoe Adventures

  • Viking Island Lodge is a great base for your canoeing adventures. Stay in a cozy cabin and relax in the unique log lodge. Rates include float plane ride from and to Red Lake, a cabin of your choice and use of a canoe.

Flight services 

Routes and Stories

Get inspired here:

Reservations / Permits 

Backcountry registration is required. This allows you to obtain a First Come First Served interior camping permit up to two weeks in advance of your arrival date. You can also obtain your permit through a local outfitter.

Missinaibi River

Paddle through incredible geological features.| Source: Ontario Tourism
Paddle through incredible geological features.| Source: Ontario Tourism

The Missinaibi River, part of Missinaibi Provincial Park, is one of the longest and most famous of the canoe routes in the Hudson Bay watershed with 500 km of whitewater river from the Arctic watershed divide down to James Bay.

It is a Canadian Heritage River, designated for its significant Indigenous, fur trade and logging cultural heritage, outstanding ecological and geological natural heritage, and opportunities for wilderness recreation. If you prefer a trip without portages, then this fly-in canoe trip is for you.

Outfitters and/or Guided canoe trips

Enjoy delicious gourmet meals cooked over a campfire. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Enjoy delicious gourmet meals cooked over a campfire. | Source: Ontario Tourism

MHO Outfitters offers an incredible guided journey exploring the Lower Missinaibi River. Starting with a flight over Thunderhouse Falls, landing on the Missinaibi River, 64 km north of the last road and last portage. From here, it is a downstream paddle to Moosonee and Moose Factory with a return trip on the Polar Bear Express Train. Package includes quality equipment, delicious meals, float plane ride and experienced, knowledgeable guide. 

Routes and Stories 

Get inspired here:

Reservations / Permits

  • Backcountry registration is required. This allows you to obtain a First Come First Serve interior camping permit up to two weeks in advance of your arrival date. You can also obtain your permit through a local outfitter.

Quetico

Enjoy incredible sunsets. | Source: Ontario Tourism
Enjoy incredible sunsets. | Source: Ontario Tourism

Quetico Provincial Park is an iconic wilderness class park known for its rugged beauty, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine forests, and pristine lakes and rivers. It is a world famous destination for backcountry canoe tripping with over 2,000 lakes and 460,000 ha of wilderness. A complete mechanical ban has helped preserve the park’s natural quiet and remote splendour. Although you cannot fly into the Park itself, the best way to access its four most remote entry points is with a fly-in adventure. 

The gateway to the Park is Atikokan, located about 2.5 hours west of Thunder Bay.

Outfitters and/or Guided canoe trips 

Canoe Canada Outfitters offers a Quetico Discovery Package that includes a float plane flight to one of four most remote entry station lakes that border the park. They will assist you with all aspects of your planning, permits and outfitting to make your fly-in adventure easy and enjoyable.  

Flight services

  • Atikokan Aero Service provides flights to and from lakes in the Quetico, White Otter and Atikokan areas. Phone: 807-597-6086

Top Routes and Stories

Get inspired here:

Reservations / Permits

You will need to complete a backcountry registration and reserve the access point where you will start your trip. This allows you to obtain a First Come First Served interior camping permit up to two weeks in advance of your arrival date. You can also obtain your permit through a local outfitter.

A Trip of a Lifetime 

No matter which Ontario provincial park you choose to explore, a fly-in canoe trip will give you the solitude and serenity you are looking for.

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