Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater protects an area of rugged highland watersheds and contains forest that mixes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and Boreal species of trees, creating many different habitats for birds. During the nesting season of spring and early summer, many species of warbler, thrush, flycatcher and woodpecker can be heard calling to defend territory. Eagles, osprey and many other birds-of-prey can be spotted hunting above the forests of the park.
Motorboat restrictions apply on many of the lakes in the Temagami Backcountry Parks. For specific information on prohibited/permitted activities please see the park management plan.
There are numerous canoe route options within Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater and in connection with the adjoining waterway parks, conservation reserves and Crown land.
Lady Evelyn River: this waterway is the central feature in the park, with a north branch that is road-accessible, and a south branch that is only reached from other canoe routes or by floatplane. The north branch starts in a chain of lakes, with the road ending at Gamble Lake. The south branch begins at remote Florence Lake. The two branches meet and the river begins to drop in elevation more steeply, with rapids and falls, skirted by rugged portages beneath the pines. The river passes through a 1990s forest fire, along with several lakes including Katherine, once known as Divide Lake, where the river splits again.
The South Channel is longer and more rugged, with several high falls and challenging portages. The North Channel is shorter, with three large waterfalls. The route either ends in a floatplane trip back to the town of Temagami, or a paddle through several large lakes, Willow Island, Sucker Gut and Lady Evelyn Lake, to the access at Mowat Landing.
Makobe River: This route is a whitewater trip on a small northern river. It begins in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater, by portaging up the Grays River from the Lady Evelyn River, or by flying into Makobe Lake, the route’s headwaters. The river is best paddled in Spring for rocking whitewater, but can be done with more portaging later on in the season. The Makobe is quite remote, but also short, good for a long weekend, ending at the Montreal River at the town of Elk Lake.
A longer version of this trip, minus the fly-in option, includes a chain of lakes west of Makobe, including Trethewey, or another chain of lakes and streams south of Trethewey. Both of these options are accessed via the former Liskeard Lumber Road.
Smoothwater Lake to Scarecrow Lake: This route provides canoe access to Ishpatina Ridge, Ontario’s highest elevation. The route begins on Crown land on the Montreal River, heads south through Lady Dufferin Lake and into the park. Smoothwater Lake is large, with a curving sandy east shore. An alternate route to the Lady Evelyn River turns east through several lakes and has very long portages. Along this route lie the “Aurora Trout Lakes”, a nature reserve and fish sanctuary, where the extremely rare Aurora trout is found, native to only this place. Fishing is prohibited in this sanctuary.
The route to Scarecrow Lake follows another chain of lakes in a broad valley, hemmed in by high hills. Ishpatina Ridge is one of these sets of hills. It is the highest point in Ontario, and can be reached by a 3.2 km trail from the shore of Scarecrow Lake. The trail leads from the site of a cabin used by the fire ranger who spent summers watching for smoke from the fire tower on the ridge, before floatplanes became the common method for forest fire spotting.
The canoe route continues through lakes and portages to join the Sturgeon River, a waterway park to the south. Paddling from Scarecrow Lake back to the put-in on the Montreal River is a good linear trip of several days.
The main routes described above all connect with other parks, conservation reserves and canoe routes on Crown land. The Sturgeon River and the lakes of Solace Provincial Park connect to form an almost-circular route back into Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater. Pinetorch Lake Conservation Reserve, a very remote and challenging lake-to-lake route connects Florence Lake in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater with Wakimika Lake in the Obabika Lake waterway park. In fact, routes of a week, two weeks or even three can be created linking this park with the rest of the two thousand lakes and 2400km of routes in Temagami.
Angling is primarily for Brook trout and Lake trout in many of the lakes and streams in the park. Sucker Gut Lake contains warm-water species such as Walleye and Small-mouth bass. Ontario provincial fishing regulations apply.
First “discovered” by anglers in the high lakes of Temagami in the 1920s, the Aurora Trout was named for its brilliant red-purple colouration along its sides. The “Aurora Trout Lakes”, Whitepine and Whirligig, were the only known lakes to contain this unique genetic variation of the wide-spread Brook trout. These two small lakes became separated from other watersheds 10,000 years ago, as glacial meltwaters receded, leaving these perched lakes in the Temagami highlands remote from other trout populations, allowing the Aurora trout to develop in isolation.
The “Aurora Trout Lakes” allowed the trout there to evolve their unique colouration, but lay atop bedrock that would eventually threaten their existence. Industrial pollution and acid rain made a serious impact on the two lakes – the acidity was so high the trout could no longer successfully reproduce. The bedrock the lakes sit on could not reduce the acidity like other types of bedrock can, so the trout disappeared from the lakes.
Extinction was averted, however, due to the foresight of the biologists at the nearby Hills Lake Fish Hatchery. They had taken some fish from the lakes to develop a breeding program as the water quality declined, and decades later were able to re-establish the Aurora Trout in the original lakes, once the acidity had been reversed by adding huge quantities of lime to the water.
The original “Aurora Trout Lakes”, Whitepine and Whirligig have been designated as fish sanctuaries. Whitepine and Whirligig, as well as Little Whitepine Lake and Aurora Lake, are within a designated nature reserve zone.
Angling for Aurora trout is permitted in stocked lakes in Ontario – see provincial fishing regulations for the list of lakes.
Important Note: All hiking trails in the Temagami Backcountry Parks are remote and generally accessed during multi-day canoe trips.
Maple Mountain Trail: 3.2km
This challenging trail leads to one of the most visited backcountry destinations in Temagami. A 2.5-hour (return trip) linear hike leads to a fire tower on the summit with a breathtaking view of the Temagami area. At one time the trail was used by fire rangers to reach the fire tower and watch for forest fires. The trailhead can only be reached by canoe from Tupper Lake.
Ishpatina Ridge Trail: 3.2 km
Crowned as Ontario’s highest elevation, this challenging hike will not disappoint. The Ishpatina Ridge and its fire tower is a 2-hour (return trip) linear hike from Scarecrow Lake. Scarecrow Lake and the trailhead can only be reached by canoe. At one time the trail was used by fire rangers to reach the fire tower and watch for forest fires.
There are endless opportunities in the backcountry for swimming including both shallow and deeper water entries along rocky headlands.