SK Historic Canoe Route 49
Southeast Arm, Deschambault Lake - Pelican Narrows - Wunehikun Bay Attitti Lake - Belcher Lake - Mukoman Lake - Ohoo Lake - Mukoman River - Sokatisewin Lake - Sandy Bay
Length of Trip: 170 kilometres
Time Required to Complete Trip: Five to six days
Number of Portages: 15
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 the presence of hazards not described herein. It is the canoeist's responsibility to proceed with caution and alertness, using discretion and good judgment 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:
The starting point for this trip is the Government of Saskatchewan campground located at the south end of Southeast Arm, Deschambault Lake. This campground is accessible by a short northward access road from Mile 156 of the Hanson Lake Road, Highway 106. A nearby hunting and fishing lodge could, in all probability, provide a safe place for the parking of vehicles during a canoe trip.
Pelican Narrows is an alternate starting point for a shortened version of this trip (shortened by 65 kilometres). The community of Pelican Narrows is located on Highway 135, 51 kilometres north of its junction with Highway 106.
63L Amisk Lake and 63M Pelican Narrows.
About the Trip:
The first 65 kilometres of this pleasant canoe trip from the Southeast Arm of Deschambault Lake to the community of Pelican Narrows is an easy, relatively safe trip in itself, suitable for the less experienced canoeist. Much of the travel is along the narrow protected Southeast Arm of Deschambault Lake and the similarly protected South Arm of Pelican Lake. There are only two short or one long portage involved.
The remainder of the trip between Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay calls for much more portaging and navigational expertise. This part of the trip can only be recommended for canoeists of intermediate or advanced skills.
This trip offers excellent fishing opportunities below rapids and falls and at points where streams enter lakes. Attractive natural campsites are common along the entire route of travel.
Highway 135 crosses the Mukoman River at Mile 27 and again comes close to the river at Mile 29 just before emptying into Sokatisewin Lake. Either of these highway access points could be used as ending points for a shortened version of this trip.
Because the force of river currents is not great during the river travel portions of this trip, parts or even all of this trip could be made in a reverse direction. For this reason portage locations will be described as they would occur in the normal direction of travel and secondly, described from their opposite end, as they would be encountered if the trip were made in reverse.
The end point of this trip is the community of Sandy Bay which lies 70 kilometres northeast of Pelican Narrows at the end of Highway 135. There are two general stores in Sandy Bay, a Saskatchewan government office, radio and telephone services, but no motels, or hotels.
The Canoe Trip:
From the campground near the south end of Southeast Arm, Deschambault Lake, travel north along the protected shores for about 16 kilometres. The canoe route then enters the more open part of Deschambault Lake. Travel in a northeast direction through beautiful island-studded waters towards McIntyre Island.
There is a choice of two short or one long portage to reach South Arm of Pelican Lake. Generally speaking, the two short portages are easier to make than the one long one.
These portages start from a small baylet about six kilometres north of the falls shown at the southeast corner of Deschambault Lake.
The actual portage trails are shown on the older editions of map 63L, but not on the newer editions. Another description of the location of the baylet from which the portages start is that it is about three kilometres north-northeast of the north end of McIntyre Island and has a sharp angular bend in it extending to the southeast.
Portage No. 1: (double portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small baylet on the east shore of Deschambault Lake with a small pond to the east. Approximately 220 metres long and in good condition but steep in spots.
From the southeast shores of the small baylet this portage starts about 18 metres north of the outlet stream. There is a pole ramp at this spot, built in 1984.
From the small pond approach, this portage starts at its southwest end at the north side of the inflowing stream.
Portage No. 2: (double portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small pond with the South Arm of Pelican Lake. Approximately 120 metres long and in good condition. At low water levels this portage trail is only about one-half the length listed and starts from a pole ramp used for the hauling of big boats.
From the north shore of the small pond this portage starts near the outlet on the east side at an inconspicuous break in the willows.
From the most westerly part of South Arm this portage starts at the south end 23 metres east of the inflowing stream.
Portage No. 1A: (Alternate single portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small baylet on the east shore of Deschambault Lake with the South Arm of Pelican Lake. Approximately 825 metres long and in good condition. It is mostly used as a winter trail.
From the northeast shore of the baylet at the east side of Deschambault Lake this portage starts at an inconspicuous break in the willows.
From the most westerly part of South Arm, Pelican Lake, this portage starts on the west side 75 metres north of the base of the inflowing stream at a break in the poplar shoreline.
After completing the portaging, paddle north on South Arm, past Sandy Narrows and along the shores of the more exposed part of Pelican Lake to the community of Pelican Narrows.
Pelican Narrows has several general stores, Saskatchewan government office, R.C.M.P. detachment, and radio and telephone services.
From Pelican Narrows paddle east through Opawikusehikan Narrows under the highway bridge to the north end of Mirond Lake. Travel north and then east on Mirond Lake to the east side of Wunehikun Bay.
Enter the very narrow and hard-to-find outlet stream on the east central shore of Wunehikun Bay leading the Meggisi Rapids. Travel south down the east side of this small bay and enter the meandering, reed-filled channel leading to the small lake west of Meggisi Rapids.
Portage No. 3:
Around Meggisi Rapids. Approximately 550 metres long and in good condition.
From the northeast shore of the small lake this portage starts at a break in the poplar and willow shore about 90 metres north of the inflowing rapids. Canoe travel is now upstream against a very slight current.
From above Meggisi Rapids this portage shows as a small break in the willows and alders about 80 metres above the start of the rapids on the north side of the river.
After about 1,200 metres of quiet paddling, more rapids occur.
Portage No. 4: (North shown on map)
Connecting quiet water above Meggisi Rapids with the northwest end of Waskwei Lake. Approximately 185 metres long and in good condition.
From the downstream side this portage starts 30 metres from the base of the rapids on the north side at a break in the willows and alders. If water levels are low, make the full portage. If water levels are high, portage only 65 to 75 metres to shores of a small pool, paddle on and then haul or lift over the ledge on the north side.
From the upstream side (outlet of Waskwei Lake) this portage starts 20 metres above the ledge on the north shore at a break in the willows and alders.
At the narrows separating the northwest part of Waskwei Lake from the main body of the lake there is a small island. Haul up or line up the more easterly channel past the island. There are some outpost fishing cabins on Waskwei Lake shortly after hauling up through the narrows.
Paddle to the east end of Waskwei Lake and into a meandering, reed-bordered stream against a slight current. Travel on to the base of a beautiful little fall. Outfitters have built a dock below the fall at the start of the portage.
Portage No. 5:
Connecting the stream flowing into the east end of Waskwei Lake with the outlet of Attitti Lake. Approximately 230 metres long and in good condition but steep at first.
From below the falls the start of this portage is obvious at the dock on the north side.
From above the falls this portage starts at a dock on the north side.
Canoeists must paddle up through one fast riffle a few hundred metres above the falls and then out onto the quiet waters of Attitti Lake.
There is a large outfitters camp on the east side of Attitti Lake at the central narrows.
Paddle in a north-northwest direction on Attitti Lake to the extreme north end. Wade or line canoes up through the rock-free channel against the current or make an optional portage.
Portage No. 6: (optional) (Not shown on map)
Connecting the north end of Attitti Lake with the south end of Belcher Lake. Approximately 115 metres long and in good condition.
From the north end of Attitti Lake this portage starts on the east shore at an obvious grassy patch below the inflowing waters.
From the south end of Belcher Lake this portage starts at an old log dock on the east side 20 metres above the rocky outlet channel.
There are attractive sand beaches on the south shore of Belcher Lake. Paddle up through the central narrows of Belcher Lake to the northeast shore in the area of the portage to the southwest end of Mukoman Lake (see map 63M).
Portage No. 7:
Connecting Belcher Lake with Mukoman Lake. Approximately 1100 metres long and in fair condition, but somewhat overgrown and wet in spots.
From the end of a bay along the northeast shore of Belcher Lake this portage starts at a grassy patch in alders and willows at the approximate location indicated on map 63M.
From the southwest end of Mukoman Lake the start of this portage is obvious and at the location indicated on the map.
Paddle up Mukoman Lake and enter the long narrow arm on the east central shore leading to rapids at the outlet of the lake.
Portage No. 8:
Connecting the outlet stream from Mukoman Lake with a small lake between Mukoman and Ohoo Lakes. Approximately 70 metres long and in poor but passable condition.
Approaching from above the rocky rapids on the Mukoman Lake side this portage starts on the northwest shore of the outlet opposite the start of the rapids.
From below these rapids the portage starts on the west side at the base of the rapids on a sloping rock landing.
Paddle on downstream and haul over a beaver dam and small rock obstruction. Travel on downstream to within approximately 180 metres of the next obstructing dam and rapids.
Portage No. 9: (Not shown on map)
Around obstruction and rapids in the small stream between Mukoman and Ohoo Lakes. Approximately 270 metres long and in poor but passable condition.
From the upstream approach this portage starts on the east side of the stream at a few blazed trees back from a wet, grassy, brushy shoreline. The start is hard to find and appears little used. This portage does not start at the side of the rapids, but starts 160 to 180 metres above the start of the rapids. The reason for the unexpected location of the starts of this portage is that the stream turns sharply to the southeast at the rapids. There is also an obstructing rock ridge near the rapids.
From the downstream approach this portage starts at the base of the rapids on the southwest side.
Continue to paddle downstream to the next dam and rock obstruction.
Portage No. 10: (Not shown on map)
Connecting outlet stream from Mukoman Lake to the southwest side of Ohoo Lake. Approximately 130 metres long and in poor condition.
From the upstream approach the start of this portage is indefinite. Canoeists should land on the grassy shore on the northeast side of the dam. Look for old blazes and scout out a passable route through to the shores of Ohoo Lake.
From the Ohoo Lake this portage is hard to find. The outlet stream from Mukoman Lake enters the southwest shore of Ohoo Lake at the location shown on the map. This stream at this point is in fact only a trickle down a densely overgrown rocky slope and therefore is easily overlooked. The actual portage begins north of the stream entrance, but has no definite start. The trail is vague.
Paddle to the outlet of Ohoo Lake at its northwest end and enter the outlet stream.
Portage No. 11: (Not shown on map)
Around the first set of rocky rapids in the Mukoman River at the outlet of Ohoo Lake. Approximately 55 metres long and in fair condition.
From the upstream approach, this portage starts vaguely in the shore grass on the west side above the small rapids.
From the downstream side this portage starts on the west side at the base of a small falls and rapids.
Travel on the downstream hauling over one or two beaver dams and down a short rocky channel until the start of a long set of rapids is reached.
Portage No. 12:
Around the long rapids in the Mukoman River below Ohoo Lake. Approximately 400 metres long and in good condition as it is used by fishermen coming in from Highway 135.
From the upstream approach the start of this portage is obvious at a landing on the northwest side at the start of the rapids.
From the downstream side this portage starts on the northwest side opposite the base of the rapids.
Paddle on down river towards the highway and haul over the obstructing beaver dam.
Portage No. 13:
Across Highway 135 at Mile 27 where the Mukoman River passes through three (3) culverts under the highway. Approximately 25 metres long. Simply carry canoes across highway.
Below the highway crossing the Mukoman River opens out into a small lake. Below this lake there may be several beaver dams to haul over. The river comes very close to the highway again at Mile 29 and rapids obstruct canoe travel.
Portage No. 14:
Connecting the lower Mukoman River at Mile 29 with the southwest end of Sokatisewin Lake. Approximately 140 metres long and in good condition.
From the upstream approach this portage starts on the south side at the start of the rapids and is partially over a bull-dozed trail.
From the southwest bay of Sokatisewin Lake where the Mukoman River flows into the lake, this portage starts on the south side of the mouth of the river at the base of the rapids. There is an outfitter's cabin nearby.
Travel on Sokatisewin Lake to its outlet at the northeast end in the general area of the dam and powerhouse.
Portage No. 15:
Connecting Sokatisewin Lake to the waters below the dam. Approximately 300 metres long and in good condition.
From the Sokatisewin Lake side this portage starts from a small bay about 400 metres north of the dam and powerhouse. The start of the portage is marked by the decaying hulls of two old barges.
From below the dam this portage starts on the west shore about 400 metres below the powerhouse at a break in the shore vegetation between rock outcroppings.
There is minor fast water below this portage enroute to the community of Sandy Bay.
Sandy Bay is the end point of this trip.
WRITTEN BY: Peter Gregg