Agnes Lake in Ontario, Canada is a gorgeous twenty-one mile lake running directly north-south in the wilderness of Quetico Provincial Park. For adventure travelers who love to canoe, Agnes Lake is a major thruway between the south-central entry point at Prairie Portage and the remote wilderness found in the center of the park.
My Dad and I canoed all twenty-one miles, back and forth, on our way into and out of the Quetico wilderness. On the way up we passed five canoes, and on the way back we encountered four canoes. This means nine other canoes in 42 miles. We saw more combined loons and eagles than people.
When one conjures up thoughts of a twenty-one mile lake they most likely think of jet skis and motorboats, but none of these noisy and pollution making contraptions are allowed up here. In fact, the water is so pure on Agnes that it is safe to just dip your canteen in the middle of the lake and drink away. Cathy, the ranger at Prairie Portage, advised us to rinse soap on the land as Quetico is one of the last pure water sources around. “Let’s keep it that way,” she implored to us as we entered the park.
The most interesting sections of Agnes are the narrows and Louisa Falls. The narrows are about a third of the way up the lake. They are dominated by beautiful boulder strewn bluffs.
Louisa Falls lies on the far southern stretch of the lake. The falls make for an ideal outdoor bath and shower. Halfway up the falls there is a deep pool where one can immerse themselves into the crystal cool waters. The water from the top of the waterfall crashes down into the pool, but the cascade is light and one can head under the falls just like a shower.
The pool is protected by a row of rocks, so it is completely safe to swim in without being ushered over the bottom half of the falls. Caution of course needs to be exercised, especially in times of high water, but playing in the pool of Louisa Falls is pretty safe.
At the north end of Agnes the lake opens up into a huge pathway of water until suddenly ending in a bay with a portage. The portage takes canoeists into the deeper interior of the park including Lake Kawnipi, and the poet chain lakes of Keats and Shelley.
Natural history buffs will also enjoy the lake as they have a treat in store for them. Agnes Lake has six areas listed on the map with Indian pictographs on them. One of these pictures features a canoe. These ancient forms of art suggest Agnes has been a preferred travel route not only for canoeists in aluminum and fiberglass canoes, but also for the Native Americans in hand carved craft many centuries before.
If this type of trip appeals to you, there are two places one can access the park from the United States that I recommend. If you go through Ely, Minnesota then go through Canadian Border Outfitters. Read about them here:
If you want to go through Grand Marais then try Voyageur Canoe Rentals. Read about them here:
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