Magnetawan Lake Access - Canoe on Casey Lake

Ontario Canada has some of the best camping locations in North America because Ontario is home to the magnificent Algonquin Provincial Park.

Once you have decided to camp in Algonquin Park, you must select the starting access point. There are 29 access points to choose from, so it can be hard to know how to choose.

Since you are reading this article on Magnetawan Lake Access Point, you will either be deciding on an access point, or you will have already decided to start from this one.

Therefore, this article will provide information to help plan your backcountry camping adventure on Magnetawan Lake, including information on different campsites to choose and routes to take.

I embarked on an August backcountry camping trip from Magnetawan Lake access point and I will share all my knowledge to help you plan your own. Our canoe route was quite intense and involved long portages. Therefore, I have provided options for similarly difficult routes, or less strenuous routes.

To book your campsite, you should visit the Ontario Parks website. 

You can find more information here about packing your canoe gear and planning your canoe trip menu.

If you need to rent a car to get to Magnetawan Lake, check the rates on several car agencies here.

Facilities at Magnetawan Lake Access Point

Magnetawan Lake permits box and canoes

Compared to other access points in Algonquin Park, such as Rock Lake, there are minimal facilities at Magnetawan Access Point.

There are two composting toilets; however, there is no sink to wash your hands after use – so make sure you have some hand sanitiser. There is toilet paper available.

There is no garbage disposal unit at Magnetawan. Nor is there an office with park rangers or other staff to ask questions. Therefore, you will need to take all your trash with you from camping.

If you wish to speak to someone about Magetawan Lake, it is best to talk to the staff at the Access Point Office in Kearny. Here you will also pick up your park permits.

The office in Kearny has flushing toilets, sinks and rubbish bins to use if required.

Where to Rent a Canoe for Magnetawan Lake

Canoe Algonquin shop in Kearny

There are two locations to rent a canoe and other equipment for the Magnetawan Lake Access Point. Both rental shops are in Kearny, one of the last towns before entering Algonquin Park at Magnetawan Lake Access.

  • Canoe Algonquin
  • Algonquin Basecamp

We rented from Canoe Algonquin and had a positive experience renting from this shop.

The two canoes we rented were waiting for us at the Magnetawan access point, which saved any worries about attempting to transport the boats on top of the car. We used a key provided by the store to unlock the canoes.

We also picked up our life jackets and paddles at the shop before arriving at the lake. It is possible to rent other equipment and gear from the shop.

How Long to Stay on Lake Magnetawan?

Canoes at Magnetawan Lake access point

It is important to note that you may only stay one night at Magnetawan Lake since it is a jump-off lake.

The recommended amount of time you choose to stay on one of the other lakes depends on your time available and experience level.

For some people, a total trip length of one or two nights is enough to experience backcountry camping for the first time.

For others, visiting Algonquin Park for three nights will help you get a better outdoor experience.

Four nights at one campsite may be too long; therefore, you could consider visiting two campsites on different lakes if you want to camp for this long.

Breaking the camping trip into nights on a few lakes would also give you more things to do during the day. There are plenty of other options for day portages if you stay at one campsite for the entirety of your trip.

For example, if you are staying on Little Trout Lake or one of the nearby lakes, you could visit the falls on Tim River.

Algonquin Park Canoe Routes from Magnetawan Lake Access

Here are some options for Magnetawan canoe routes based on if you want to stay in one campsite your whole time or move campsite each night.

Single Campsite Portage Trips from Magnetawan Access

Ralph Bice lake - trees, lake and canoes

If you are looking to go backcountry camping from Magnetawan Lake but would rather spend a few days at one campsite, the following campsites would be good options:

  • Ralph Bice Lake – a large lake with many campsites. Only two short portages to arrive at Ralph Bice from Magnetawan. Suitable for families with children.
  • Little Trout Lake – a popular lake to stay on, even though it has an additional portage from Ralph Bice
  • Queer Lake – it is a smaller lake, which means closer proximity to other campers, but beautiful scenery. I would not suggest going further than Queer Lake in one day.
  • Hambone Lake – it is one of the closest lakes to the access point, but only suggested for new campers or younger children since it is such a short distance from Magnetawan Lake access.
  • Daisy Lake – it is a narrow lake (so you will be closer to paddlers in the water), but a reasonable distance from Magnetawan access point for those who wish to travel only a short distance away.
  • Little Eagle Lake – it has 1 campsite on the lake, so it would be private, but not a particularly special campsite.

Multi-Campsite Canoe Trips from Magnetawan Access

Magnetawan Lake connects you to an interesting network of lakes.

However, if you are looking to do a loop, it will be difficult to avoid any long portages (over 1km). So, keep this in mind.

Option 1: Ralph Bice Lake, Little Trout Lake, Queer Lake

Little Trout Lake - view from campsite across lake

Easy – suitable for beginners

  • One night at each of these would be a great introductory portage trip
  • Out and back route (not a loop)
  • The order of lakes can be changed

You could also add a night at Daisy Lake instead of Ralph Bice Lake for the first or last night.

Option 2: Little Trout Lake, Moccasin Lake, Casey Lake

Difficult – not suitable for beginners or with a low fitness level

  • Long days of portaging
  • Camping experience required as the route will take you far from civilisation
  • This route creates a loop

Possible to swap Little Trout Lake for Queer Lake. You can also swap Casey Lake for Daisy Lake.

Option 3: Daisy Lake, Little Misty, Little Trout or Ralph Bice

Route from Little Misty to Moccasin Lake along Petawawa River
Little Misty to Petawawa River

Medium difficulty – suitable for those with reasonable fitness levels and camping experience

  • One extremely long portage (2.4km)
  • This route creates a loop

There is only one campsite on Little Misty, so if dates do not align, select Queer Lake instead.

Which Lake to Stay on at Magnetawan Access Point?

Here is a description of some of the lakes that you may choose to stay on or pass through when using Magnetawan access.

Little Trout Lake

This lake can be busy because it is a well-loved camping option for various groups of people.

There are some interesting campsites; however, you may not be lucky enough to get your pick of the bunch because of the lake’s popularity.

Campsite 3

Furthest east campsite

Tents at campsite in Little Trout - Magnetawan Access

We stayed at this campsite on Little Trout Lake. It is the furthest point if you are coming from Ralph Bice, but it is close to the portage spot for Queer Lake.

There is a shallow beach, which is good for swimming. However, the water was murky on the shore and there were lots of frogs. The mosquitos here were the worst out of our 3 campsites on our Algonquin portaging trip.

The campsite feels private because it is far away from other campsites on the lake. There are several logs for sitting around the fire pit. There are racks attached to two trees which make a makeshift kitchen setup. However, we needed to use a flatter log for the stove.

The toilet box looked relatively new and had a deep hole.

Campsite 2

Second last campsite from the east side of the lake

We checked this site out when we arrived on Little Trout Lake, but it was less desirable than campsite 3.

There was no good space for lounging on the waterfront, nor were there any rocks to jump off for swimming.

There is heavy tree coverage, so it would be a good campsite if there was heavy rainfall in the forecast.

Queer Lake

Queer Lake campsite with fire pit and logs

It is a beautiful lake, but the sites are quite close to each other. Therefore, you may be able to see and hear other sites from your campsite – making it less private.

Campsite 8

Closest site to portage to Little Misty (left-hand side)

While passing through Queer Lake, we visited campsite 8 because it looked like an interesting site.

Someone had been busy creating some wooden masterpieces that would come in handy for cooking. Plus, there was a structure that could be used for hanging tarpaulin.

Casey Lake

This lake is difficult to get to, given that the only option to get there is with over 1000 m portages. As a result, the lake is quiet because it receives less noise from day-trippers.

There are only 3 campsites on this lake.

In my opinion, the 1275 m portage from Rain Lake to Casey Lake is harder than the 1135 m portage from Casey Lake to Daisy Lake.

Campsite 3

Casey Lake campsite set up near to Magnetawan Lake

North-west campsite

We stayed at campsite 3 during our one-night stay on Casey Lake. There were no extra props, such as a flat surface for cooking or storage. Plus, there were only 2 logs to sit on.

However, the campsite had a large rocky front that is nice to sit on for sunbathing, eating, or enjoying the view.

The toilet is difficult to find at first, but it is up a hill from the tent area.

Campsite 2

North-east campsite

We also looked at campsite 2 but we didn’t pick it due to the limited tent spots (and we needed enough space to put up 2 tents).

It also felt slightly too close to the third campsite that was already occupied.

Jubilee Lake

We passed Jubilee during one of our many portages and it was a popular lake.

Most campsites were full, and several other groups were paddling on the lake. It is a narrow lake, so the canoe traffic passing through is quite noticeable.

Rain Lake

This was another lake that we passed through on our camping adventure. This is such a large lake, so it can be brutal to paddle through with strong winds.

It is also extremely popular because Rain Lake is another access point. Do not expect to be able to stop for lunch on this lake because the sites may all be taken – as we experienced.

It is possible to enter this lake using a motorboat.

Additionally, there are cabins, rather than tent sites, that can be booked on the lake.

Moccasin Lake

The portage to Moccasin Lake coming from the direction of Little Misty Lake is an interesting route. The small portion of the Petawawa River travelled upon is a remarkable journey across thousands of lily pads and hundreds of frogs.

Moccasin Lake is an extremely quiet place to camp because there are only 2 campsites. It is a far distance to travel to arrive at Moccasin Lake, which makes it a peaceful lake to be on.

Campsite 1

West campsite

Moccasin Lake - canoes just before sunset

After checking out both campsites, this was the campsite that we chose.

It had a large rocky front that was good for swimming off. Additionally, there was a makeshift counter to use for cooking, which was useful.

The tent spots were large and flat, making for a comfortable sleep. This campsite is cooler in the evening and has the sun in the morning.

Something to note – we saw what we thought was a snapping turtle in the water on Moccasin Lake, which was quite alarming.

Campsite 2

East campsite

This campsite has a great view of a tree-filled island. It also has a similar rocky front for sunbathing and swimming off, which is useful given that the sun shines on this campsite in the afternoon.

However, the campsite was extremely hilly, with a small area for tents. It did not have good logs for sitting on, nor were there any structures to use for storage or cooking.

Magnetawan Camping Packing List

The following items are the most important to bring camping in Lake Magnetawan. Find out even more details about what to pack for canoe trips here.


MSR Hubba Bubba tent in Algonquin Park t night
MSR Hubba Bubba tent

Try not to go cheap on your tent because it needs to be durable and waterproof.

This MSR Hubba Hubba 3-Person Tent is the tent used when we visited Magnetawan Lake, and we have used it for many other Algonquin Park camping trips. The tent weathered the storm we experienced while camping and kept us dry all weekend. 

Check price: MEC | Amazon

You can also try out this highly-rated Nemo tent from MEC for a 2-person option.

Camping Stove

You cannot always rely on cooking your food in the fire pit; therefore, bring a camping stove with you.

We use this MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove every time we go camping – it is a failsafe product. 

Check price: MEC | Amazon

Read about preparing food for canoe trips here.

Sleeping Bag

You should be fine with a sleeping bag up to 0 degrees Celsius for summer nights in Algonquin Park.

There are sleeping bags suited for men, women, or unisex.

The difference is that women’s sleeping bags are usually wider in the hips and are available in shorter lengths.

MEC sell good quality sleeping bags, such as this Unisex 0c sleeping bag or this men’s 0c sleeping bag

Sleeping Mats

We bought sleeping mats for this Magnetawan camping trip and it was a game-changer.

It made a big difference at night compared to sleeping on the tent floor or using a thin mat.

Check price: MEC | Amazon

Water Purification Tools

A water purification tool is another important item to bring with you on your backcountry camping trip.

You need to purify your lake water to drink it while you camp. You can use simple water purification tablets.

Alternatively, you can purchase a gravity bag, which will make the water taste nicer (than the tablets).

Check price: MEC | Amazon

Further Reading

Looking for somewhere else to go camping in Algonquin Park?

How about a backcountry camping trip in Rock Lake. It is a beautiful access point located centrally in Algonquin Park and involves less portaging than many routes in Magnetawan Lake.

If you prefer something a little less “backcountry”, try out Yurt Camping in Tobermory.

FAQ – Magnetawan Lake Access Point

Where is Magnetawan Lake?

Magnetawan Lake is on the western edge of Algonquin Provincial Park’s boundaries in Ontario, Canada. Kearney is one of the nearest towns to Magnetawan Lake – it claims to be the “Biggest Little Town in Ontario”.

Magnetawan is a popular access point for campers within Algonquin Park. For those who have booked a camping permit, there is free parking at Magnetawan Lake for the duration of the trip.

Are there bears in Magnetawan?

Bears are located all over Algonquin Park; therefore, there is a chance of finding a bear while camping in the Magnetawan Lake area.

On the day we arrived at Magnetawan Lake access point in August, some other campers told us there was a bear on Daisy Lake. However, we were heading in the opposite direction and did not see a bear for our entire trip.

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