Spanish River & Biscotaski Lake Provincial Parks offer numerous trip options for paddlers, from a tranquil journey through picturesque lakes dotted with hundreds of islands to exhilarating white water. Start your adventure from any one of the many access points, such as Duke Lake on the East Branch, the town of Biscotasing on the West Branch or even a train ride & drop off at The Forks. The Spanish River has something for every type of paddler.
Biscotaski Lake Provincial Park
If lake paddling is more your style; Biscotasing Lake Provincial Park is the place to go. Take the VIA Rail Budd Car from Sudbury or Cartier to the remote town of Biscotasing. After a relaxing & enjoyable experience, the train will drop you & your gear just a short walk from the put-in by the Biscotasing General Store. Stop in there for ice-cream, a cold pop or a chat before starting your journey.
Biscotasi Lake offers countless bays & inlets to explore and, given that there are no portages, it is ideally suited to exploration by kayak. Don’t forget your fishing rod; this area has some of the best fishing in Ontario.
For lake paddlers wishing to travel a little farther, head west under the train bridge into Mississagi River Provincial Park. The short portage around the dam takes you into Boyuck Bay on Ramsey Lake, a large body of water well worth exploring.
Spanish River Provincial Park
For a great introductory whitewater paddling trip, drive up Hwy 144 north of Sudbury & put in at Duke Luke. The trip down the East Branch starts with a series of chain lakes interconnected by swifts in terrain surrounded by forested hills punctuated by rocky outcrops. A rapid at the end of First Lake can change due to fluctuating water levels. It should be scouted prior to running to determine the best approach.
One of the most popular routes for paddlers is from The Forks to the The Elbow. This section of river has an abundance of run-able rapids with calmer stretches of flat water & numerous swifts. Some rapids have no portages & require skill to navigate safely. The only way to reach this access point is by train.
From The Elbow to Cedar Rapids, the river is made up of a series of rapids & swifts. Canoeists are advised to exercise caution in this section because it is easy to be drawn into waters that are beyond a paddlers capabilities. Well-marked portages are located along the section known as The Graveyards down to Agnes Rapids.
Below Cedar Rapids the river moves at a more leisurely pace with calm sections & gentle swifts. At the north end of Cedar Rapids & Reynolds Creek there is an opportunity to explore some good examples of old growth forest.
When crossing Agnew Lake at the sound end of the river, stiff winds can be encountered; early mornings or evenings are ideal times to cross.
The West Branch of the Spanish River flows to the The Forks where it meets the East Branch. It is quite different from the East Branch, quiet sections of river followed by quick plunging rapids. These require good technical paddling skills.
For those wishing to do sections of both branches, the Snake River & a final portage into First Lake connects the two.
There are three major lakes associated with the West Branch System, beginning with Biscotasi Lake. It is the largest & most susceptible to high winds & waves. Particular caution should be exercised when rounding Windy Point on Biscotasi Lake. The other two are Cavana & Lebell Lakes.
Due to fluctuating water levels, May through June is usually the best time to run the West Branch. For those who wish lower water levels, July & August are recommended.
As of 2008 the Spanish River & Biscotasi Lake have been designated as “operating” provincial parks and as such fees for camping overnight in the parks apply. All fees collected go directly back into the parks to cover operating expenses & route maintenance as well as protection of the park’s resources.