31 Mile Lake, QC

by Global  |  7 years, 6 month(s) ago

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31 mile lake (Lac a Trente-un mille) just north of Gracefield Quebec, and launching from Pt Comfort gets you onto a wonderful body of water with dozens and maybe hundreds of small islands to visit and paddle around. It has the feel of an Inland sea, you get to paddle knowing you have potentially days of shoreline exploring ahead of you. It's a lake, but not a lake feel. The whole area could keep you going for weeks, all the water systems interconnect in this region, with small portages extending the water-routes. But that's another story, here we just focus on 31 mile lake. A trip in itself, for those with 2 to 4 days to paddle and camp. I'd even compare the Islands experience to that of Desolation Sound in B.C., with rocky small islands dotting the route, ideal for camping. A few larger crossings from side to side if you choose, or hug the shoreline.

The lake itself shoots almost straight north, and although it's fairly simple paddling (in the fall - without any motot boats), you can get lost heading into a false channel or bay if you are not careful. There are lots of contuors, bays, and, islands, with surrounding hills of the Gatineau region.

Only no seals, salt water, or tides. For those who enjoy 2-3 day trips, this is ideal paddling, with several small camping Islands that offer easy landings and small steps up to flat pine-bed ground. The water is very clear, and swimmable. We even swam in early October (briefly) sans wetsuit. Mind you we had a heatwave in Oct 2005 with 3 days of +28 sun, so this called us up and away for a mid-week break to visit the area. That's what's nice about it, it's a 2 hour drive from Ottawa, shhh, few seem to notice this.

There are cottages scattered here and there, but still plenty of unspoiled shoreline, and, lots of water. This is a big body of water, worthy of a sea kayak or canoe trip and all the planning that goes with it.

With the winds that hurled against us on the way back, we had to really work at paddling. Always check the weather forecast to plan your paddling efforts. It was fun, but strong winds make for some intermediate paddling, otherwise it's simple, easy, and, a fun. A nice alternative for those who think their big water adventure is only Algonquin Park.

Just 2 hours north of Ottawa, Ontario, the amount of water up here is staggering. We didn't even try Lac Poisson Blanc, which is a nearby large body of water in itself, or the portage route that comes up just under Mte. Ste Marie (the route of the sea2summit adventure race). For those that haven't taken at least a weekend to come up and paddle, you are missing out.

Costs are quite reasonable: We couldn't find any sign of camp fees, although many Islands are private so please respect that. We did mark as many interesting camp Islands (including one with an outhouse and some nice facilities, e.g. picnic table and kitchen area on a small Island, ah darn the Island name escapes me, but it's marked by GPS, on our day two, not that far south - yes it was south of Ile du Croix or possibly Ile des Pins Rouge?). Hmm, yes, you will enjoy exploring the Islands. A hint, ideal camping Islands tend to be the smaller ones, with identifiable flat areas or perhaps a makeshift firepit. Although we did see a few skookum camp spots on the "mainland". Take 2 or 3 days and find your own, if you can do this trip in the fall you are blessed, few bugs, and virtually no boat traffic.


Drive north on hwy 105 leading out of Hull/Gatineau (5 first once over the bridge from Ottawa, then 105), driving through Wakefield which has some quaint restaurants and a great bakery).

Drive past Low, Martindale, Mte-Ste Marie, and past even Gracefield. A few km out of gracefield, on your right, you will see road "Pte Comfort". take it, and drive until the road turns to dirt. Just before that, you will see a general store and beside that a small road down to the lake and the large parking area and launch. If you are lucky, you'll recognize this area before you hit the dirt road, but, honestly, instead of wondering if you are near the launch, we found it easy to know that until we hit the dirt road, we weren't there yet. It was a good drive down Pte. Comfort road, no 5 or 10 minutes but not too long either. Ask in the corner store, they'll direct you to a residence next door, and they'll arrange to allow you to leave a car below for just $5 a day.

Lots of good fishing in the lake systems, and, the general shaded relief map that they sell in the stores up there are awesome for getting around on the lake, make sure you ask for that in the stores from about Mte. Ste. Marie on. A small cropped image is attached to this description from one of the maps, to give you an idea of the topogrpahy.

 Tags: 31, lake, mile, QC



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