Agnes Lake Quetico version in Ontario, Canada is a gorgeous twenty-one mile lake running directly north-south through pristine wilderness. 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 Lake Kawnipi in the center of the park.
More loons and eagles than people
My Dad and I canoed all twenty-one miles, back and forth, on our way into and out of Quetico. We passed five canoes paddling north, and we encountered four canoes on the flipside. This means nine canoes covering 42 miles of water. We witnessed more combined loons and eagles than people.
Agnes Lake Quetico a lake you can drink water from
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 here. In fact, the water is so pure on Agnes that it is safe to merely dip a canteen in the middle of the lake and quench one’s thirst.
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.
Louisa Falls – Nature’s bathtub
The most picturesque sections of Agnes are the narrows and Louisa Falls. The narrows are about a third of the way up the lake. Beautiful boulder strewn bluffs typical of Canadian Shield geology loom above awed paddlers as they pass through the constricted channel.
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. Water from the top of the waterfall crashes down into the pool, but the cascade is light and one can head under the falls as if it were a shower head.
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.
Northern end of Lake Agnes Quetico
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. Quetico offers so many possibilities for adventure.
Native American pictographs
Those with a keen interest in local history will enjoy the lake as they have a treasure in store for them. The Agnes Lake map indicates six locations featuring Indian pictographs. One of these ancient art creations displays a canoe.
These ancient art forms 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.
Agnes Lake fishing and camping
If your destination is Quetico, then fishing is most likely a motivation for coming on this trip. We actually did not fish while in Agnes, but I am sure it is outstanding. The narrows looks like an excellent spot to cast a line.
The fishing on Lake Kawnipi is world class, so we paddled through Agnes as fast as possible. Next trip, I would like to take my time through Agnes and do some camping and fishing. There are some incredible camping spots on the lake including one adjacent to Louisa Falls.
Plan a 2021 return to Agnes Lake Quetico
Speaking of returning, I am tentatively planning a triumphant homecoming to Agnes Lake Quetico in 2021. As of right now, Americans are not allowed entry into Canada, so I hope the virus difficulties are behind us come next year.
How to start your Quetico trip
If this type of trip appeals to you, there are two outfitters can assist in accessing the the park from the United States that I recommend. If you desire to come through Ely, Minnesota then consider working with Canadian Border Outfitters. Another entry option is through Grand Marais. Voyageur Canoe Rentals is located at the end of the Gunflint Trail and offers both BWCA and Quetico trips.
If you arrive through Ely, you will most likely enter through Prairie Portage, and if through Grand Marais, then Cache Bay and the Falls Chain will be the entry point. Agnes Lake is closer to Prairie Portage, but one can also access through Kawnipi.