Total Portage Distance: 8090m
Longest Portage: 1685m
Portage Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult (Distance combined with lots of hills to hike)
Number of Days: 3-4
This was the second access point I had launched from on the west side of Algonquin Provincial Park. Last year having been to Rain Lake and being very impressed with the fishing on McCraney Lake, I was eager to explore a new route. Taking a good friend with me, our trip would visit Tim Lake, Ralph Bice Lake, Rosebary Lake, and back to the launch again.
Day 1: Tim Lake
We arrived at 6pm at the Kearney Office to pick up our park permit. It was pouring rain out when we got to the office so after getting our permit we decided to grab some dinner before our short paddle into Tim Lake. We ate at Kearney O'Neil's a small pub on the opposite side of the street. After a beer and a great pulled pork sandwich we were on our way. A 45 minute drive down the road leads you to the Tim Lake Access point. We quickly loaded the canoe and began our paddle up the Tim River. Not even 20 minutes into the paddle we saw a moose on the left shore. My friend had never seen one before so it was nice to check that off this list that early into the trip. As we got into Tim Lake we found a campsite on the right side of the island near where we had to portage the next day.
Day 2: Ralph Bice Lake
We started the day early knowing that we had 10 portages covering almost 6km of trails that we were going to have to complete. The longest portage of the day was 1685m and the shortest was only 80m. We found many of these portages to be similar in difficulty. There were a lot of steep hills to hike up and down with our gear making even a 250m portage seem difficult. This day had significantly more hiking than paddling. We would get to the end of a portage, look across the small lake we had just arrived at only to see another yellow sign just across the lake. The portages were fairly well maintained with some fallen trees that were easy to get around. We were only able to do 4 of the portages in 1 shot but the longer distances required us doing 2 trips which results in walking 3x the distance. Finishing the final 620m portage we could not have been any happier to be at our lake. There was a small island right at the mouth of the last portage and this is where we set up camp for the night. The temperature had dropped a little but that didn't stop us from going for a well deserved swim. We needed the wash after soaking in bug spray, sunscreen and sweat all day. After a productive day walking almost 20km we had some dinner with a campfire and went to bed.
Day 3: Rosebary Lake
Knowing that we had completed the most difficult part of the journey we were looking forward to an easier day with only 5 portages, of which only one of them was a long distance. We didn't have much time to fish so we were trolling a line behind the canoe while we were paddling to our next destination. We happened to hook into a Lake Trout and a Brook Trout on our way that were both really nice fish. The portage between Queer Lake and Tim River was 1330m and was the last portage we had to do that was over 1km. It was not an easy portage again with many hills to climb up and down. When we finally got to the Tim River the view did not disappoint. A very narrow river was on the other side and the portage led us to a spot after a set of rapids. It was my favourite spot of the trip and made a perfect place for us to have a quick lunch before a paddle up the Tim River.
After a quick lunch we began our paddle up the Tim River. Shortly into the paddle we hit a beaver dam that required us to lift over. We quickly learned that these beaver dams were not going to be listed on the map and there were more than we thought. I believe we had to lift over about 15 beaver dams on our way to Rosebary Lake. Paddling up the Tim River was one of my favourite paddling experiences. I much prefer to paddle a narrow river barely wide enough for our canoe than to be on wide open lakes. We only happened to get lost once but quickly learned where our mistake was and were able to paddle back to make the correction. The GPS definitely helped us figure this out. The water levels were getting lower at the beginning of July and park staff said that this would likely be the last weekend that paddling the Tim River would be possible. It took us the full day to get from Ralph Bice to Rosebary but it was an amazing experience. Once we got into Rosebary Lake we happened to come across another Moose hanging out at the side of the lake. Unfortunately we had startled it and it ran off into the trees again. Just up ahead we pulled off to the right and camped at the site on the point.
Day 4: Back to the Launch
Our final day was planned to be an easy paddle after 2 days with a number of portages. The final stretch was a nice paddle up the Tim River back to the launch. Again with some beautiful paddling up a winding river we slowly made our way. Beaver dams were present in numbers as we likely had to lift over 15 more. At this point we had become very efficient at getting this task done. As we came around a corner in the river, Brandon whispers, "Alex, a moose." Not more than 20ft away from us was the head of a giant bull moose almost fully submerged in the water. He quickly made his way across the river and got out of our way. Unfortunately we did not get very good photos of the moose that we saw along the route. It took us about 4 hours to get from our campsite on Rosebary to the launch.
This was definitely not the easiest trip I have done but it was one of the most rewarding. Catching some nice fish, getting to see 5 moose, and paddling through kilometres of beautiful winding rivers made this trip one of my favourites. Would definitely recommend this route to other experienced paddlers looking for a challenge!