SK Historic Canoe Route 20
Lynx Lake - Sulphide Lake - Contact Lake - Kuskawao Lake
Length of Trip: 21 kilometres (13 miles)
Time Required to Complete Trip: 1 to 2 days
Number of Portages: 7 portages
Water levels and canoeing conditions on many Saskatchewan rivers and lakes vary from time to time, causing changes in the appearance of the various landmarks described in this booklet, as well as causing hazards not described herein. It is the canoeist's responsibility to proceed with caution and alertness, using discretion and good judgement at all times. The information in this booklet is intended to be of general assistance only, and the Government of Saskatchewan assumes no responsibility for its use. Canoeists are reminded that they travel at their own risk at all times.
Access to Starting Point:
Canoes can be launched at the Lynx Lake picnic ground which is located 43 kilometres (27 miles) north of La Ronge on highway 102, one kilometre (2/3 mile) north of the junction of highway 915 to Stanley Mission.
Vehicles can be parked at the Saskatchewan Government campground at Wadin Bay located 27 kilometres (17 miles) north of La Ronge on Highway 102. WARNING: Do not leave vehicles at Lynx Lake during your trip as this location is not supervised.
If the trip is run in reverse order, canoes may be launched at either Kuskawao Lake (Grid location 071447 - Map 73-P/7) or Cote Lake (Grid location 073448 - Map 73-P/7). Both of these locations are east of MacKay Lake campground.
If one of these last starting points are used, vehicles could be parked at Missinipe which is located 21 kilometres (13 miles) farther north on highway 102.
About the Trip:
This is a short relatively easy trip through scenic pre-Cambrian country. The lakes are all fairly small and sheltered. There are no rapids and the portages are not difficult although two of them are over 400 metres (437 yards) in length.
This trip is especially recommended for those with less canoe experience. This is a good trip for building confidence in one's canoeing and camping skills before undertaking a longer and more demanding trip.
Suitable locations for overnight camping can be found on some of the islands, or on the shores, of Lynx, Sulphide and Contact Lakes.
Fishing is generally good at rocky points, narrows and weed beds along this route. Pike and walleye occur in most waters and lake trout can be found in Contact Lake. Rainbow trout are found in Mekewap Lake.
This trip can be started at either end, or it can be made into a longer round trip by simply retracing one's route but following different shorelines wherever possible.
The Canoe Trip:
Travel northeast to the portage out of Lynx Lake which is located in a small bay on the east shore of the lake.
Portage Number 1:
Connecting Lynx Lake to Duck Lake. 161 metres (176 yards) long and in good condition.
From Lynx Lake, this portage starts on the east shore of a small bay (Grid location 031346 - Map 73-P/7).
From Duck Lake, this portage starts as a small break in the shoreline vegetation on the northwest shore of the lake (Grid location 032346 - Map 73-P/7).
Portage Number 2:
Connecting Duck Lake to Sulphide Lake. 401 metres (438 yards) long and in good condition. The trail is split into upper and lower alternates, with the lower portion being better.
There are some good campsites along the lower portions of the trail.
From the Duck Lake side, this portage starts as a small break in the shoreline vegetation of a small cove on the northeast side of the lake (Grid location 042345).
From the Sulphide Lake side, this portage starts as a small break in the shoreline vegetation at the extreme southwest end of the lake (Grid location 045346 - Map 73-P/7).
Portage Number 3:
Connecting Sulphide Lake to Mekewap Lake. 174 metres (190 yards) long and in good condition.
From Sulphide Lake, this portage starts at a grassy opening on the north shore of the northernmost bay of Sulphide Lake (Grid location 088379 - Map 73-P/7).
From Mekewap Lake, this portage starts on the south shore and shows as a light green break in the dark green shoreline (Grid location 088382 - Map 73-P/7). Watch for a sharp left turn as one travels the trail from Mekewap Lake to Sulphide Lake.
Portage Number 4:
Connecting Mekewap Lake to Contact Lake. 445 metres (486 yards) long and in good condition.
From Mekewap Lake, this portage starts on the north shore at an easily noticeable grassy break in the shoreline trees (Grid location 089391 - Map 73-P/7).
From Contact Lake, this portage starts at the southern tip of the southeastern portion of the lake (Grid location 092394 - Map 73-P/7). There is a break in the trees along the shoreline and the remains of an old dock.
Portage Number 5:
Connecting the northern bay of Contact Lake to Baldhead Lake. 235 metres (257 yards) long and in good condition.
From Contact Lake, this portage starts in the northwestern part of the lake in a small bay about 100 metres (110 yards) to the left or south side of the shallow rocky inflowing stream (Grid location 088432 - Map 73-P/7).
From Baldhead Lake, the start of this portage is found by following the outlet stream at the southeast end of the lake until a beaver dam is reached (Grid location 085433 - Map 73-P/7). The portage starts at a steep bank at the southeast end of the dam. Watch for rocks in the narrows approaching the beaver dam.
Portage Number 6:
Connecting Baldhead Lake to Cote Lake. 145 metres (159 yards) long and in good condition.
From Baldhead Lake, this portage starts 25 metres (27 yards) to the right or northeast of the inflowing stream (Grid location 078442 - Map 73-P/7).
From Cote Lake, this portage starts 25 metres (27 yards) to the left or northeast of a beaver dam at the outlet of the lake (Grid location 077443 - Map 73-P/7).
Canoeists may elect to finish the trip by portaging from Cote Lake direct to highway 102 (Portage number 7A), or they may choose to proceed to Kuskawao Lake and finish the trip by portaging out of that lake directly up an embankment onto highway 102.
Portage Number 7:
Connecting Cote Lake to Kuskawao Lake. 77 metres (84 yards) long and in good condition.
From Cote Lake, this portage shows as a clear cut through the trees on the left or west shore 100 metres (110 yards) south of the inflowing stream (Grid location 073446 - Map 73-P/7).
From Kuskawao Lake, this portage starts as a break in the muskeg at the extreme eastern end of this small lake (Grid location 072446 - Map 73-P/7).
On entering Kuskawao Lake canoeists can proceed to the embankment for highway 102 which is clearly visible. Canoes and gear can then be carried up the embankment to the highway.
The use of alternative portage number 7A eliminates loading, crossing and unloading canoes on Kuskawao Lake.
Alternative Portage Number 7A:
Connecting Cote Lake directly to highway 102. 42 metres (46 yards) long and in fair condition.
From Cote Lake, this portage starts at the northwest end of the lake. It shows as a small break in the shoreline vegetation to the right or northeast of the inflowing stream (Grid location 073447 - Map 73-P/7).
From highway 102, this portage starts on the southeast side of the highway at the base of the road embankment a short distance east of the northeast end of Kuskawao Lake (Grid location 073448 - Map 73-P/7).
WRITTEN BY: Original script by Historic Trails Canoe Club from 1962 field notes, reviewed in 1992 by Historic Trails Canoe Club.