McCrae Lake Conservation Area, June 2011

 

Up until now, we have only been canoeing in Ontario Provincial Parks.  A friend of ours suggested that we try Crown Land, the most obvious advantage being that is it free.  Of course, we are still renting a canoe each time, so it is not really a free weekend (and don’t even get me started on gas prices).  Our friend and her family often go to McCrae Lake for the weekend, so we followed their lead (and detailed directions).  After an hour and a half drive from Toronto, we arrived at the small parking area for the McCrae Lake access.  There were many cars there already, since most people obviously came up Friday night.  We parked the car on the side of the road and carried our gear and canoe to the launch point on McDonald Lake (~200 m).  It had been raining since we left Toronto, and it continued to rain heavily until we reached the portage.  The portage goes up and around a bridge and then down the other side into McCrae Lake, all in all an easy portage (~250 m).  Once we were on McCrae Lake, we paddled down to the southern end of the lake to a small bay.  We set up camp on a great little campsite with a large rock out front. 

Later, we realized that a hiking trail went along the ridge above our site, and a few lost folks and area rock climbers walked through our campsite.But mostly, we were left alone to enjoy the cool, cloudy day, entertained by a loon, a beaver and some fishermen.  After a night’s sleep interrupted only by something digging through our mostly empty backpacks (a coyote is my best guess without my contacts in), we arose to more clouds.  We had breakfast, packed up the camp, and started out to explore the rest of McCrae Lake just as the sun came out.  We paddled to the western most point of the lake where it meets the Georgian Bay and parked the canoe on a nice big rock.  We hiked up and around to get a better look at the 10 m portage into the Bay and sunbathed on the rock (our first real sun of summer!), before heading across the lake back to the portage to McDonald Lake.  We saw a lot of people out enjoying the sun and it looked like most of the campsites were occupied.  There is a very large island that runs most of the length of the lake, and we found out from our friends, who were also there that weekend, that a black bear was walking into the camps on that island.  Glad it wasn’t us!!