navigation icon

Bob & Diana McElroy / News / archive / A Return to McDonald Lake

A Return to McDonald Lake

2018 May 30

While Bob had previously visited McDonald Lake, A Day Trip out of Achray to McDonald Lake, Diana never had, but wanted to. So ...

It was a hot day, not too windy, the water levels were high (much more water than ten years ago), the bugs were not a problem and there was no one out there -- four cars (including ours) in the parking lot at Achray.

On the drive home we saw four bear, a beaver and two otters.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Petroglyph at the entrance to Carcajou Bay on Grand Lake.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Lots of flow through the rocky gut near the top of Carcajou Bay.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Carcajou Falls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Carcajou Fallls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Sticking our nose into the flow.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Landing at the portage around Carcajou Falls. While it's lost in the shadows in this photo, the start of this portage is pretty rough due to erosion.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

The top of the lower drop of Carcajou Falls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Looking down the western channel of Carcajou Falls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Pretty turbulent at these flow rates.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

The upper drop of Carcajou Falls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Looking up Carcajou Creek from the end of the portages around Carcajou Falls.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Geese are still heading north; these may be snow geese -- not sure.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Oh! my aching back. The start of the portage to McDonald Creek.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

The view from the end of the portage, looking up McDonald Creek.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

This white pine has fallen since the last time we were through here, complicating the launch and take-out.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Continuing our inventory of pyramidal rocks and alien landing sites.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Heading up the "real" McDonald Creek towards McDonald Lake.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

This turn in the creek was too tight for our canoe so we had to pull over the hummocks about where Diana is standing. A little farther along we had to jettison Diana to get through a shallow bit. (This photo was actually taken on the trip out so the view is away from the lake.)

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Looking towards McDonald Lake, which is just visible in the distance (left of centre.)

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Looking back the way we had come.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Bog Laurel (Pale Laurel): Kalmia polifolia

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Bog Laurel (Pale Laurel): Kalmia polifolia

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

McDonald Lake

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

It wouldn't take too much work to turn this into a serviceable campsite. But if it were a campsite, it would give rise to the issue: would you really want to drink the water in McDonald Lake? (It bears some similarity to Ooze Lake.)

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Bob with his apple on McDonald Lake.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

Back at Carcajou Falls. The portage around the lower drop is on the western shore of the river and is visible in the background of this photo. The start of this portage is pretty bad due to erosion.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

This portage is on the eastern shore and connects with the modern portage around the top drop of Carcajou Falls; that is, it is a single portage that takes you all the way to Carcajou Creek. While this portage was decommissioned about 40 years ago, it looks recently cleared (at least here at the start). However, this photo does not truly capture how steep the climb is. In our view, it is too steep to safely negotiate with a canoe on your shoulders. (But young bros might disagree.)

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - map - explore

An elm tree at the rocky gut. There are still a few around.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - explore

On the drive home we encountered four bears (two groups of two, both close to the little pond that we explored last week). Here's the first two slowly sauntering away.

Day Canoe trip to McDonald Lake in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2018-05-30 - explore

Here's the rear guard of the next two.

day trip (canoe)

Achray Road Algonquin Park Carcajou Bay Carcajou Creek Carcajou Falls Grand Lake McDonald Creek McDonald Lake portage to McDonald Creek (Carcajou Creek)