Quetico Provincial Park is a protected, pristine wilderness retreat of international acclaim just north the Canada-U.S. border above Minnesota's Boundary Waters and south of Atikokan, Ontario. The park's tangled network of lakes once formed water routes traveled by Ojibway and fur traders. Now it is primarily the destination of experienced canoeists seeking solitude and rare glimpses of wildlife by cascading waterfalls, glassy lakes and endless forests. The park is accessible at four points by canoe and two by car (Dawson Trail Campground and Lac la Croix Ranger Station). Motorized boats are not allowed into Quetico, ensuring that you will have a peaceful, serene wilderness canoe trip. The interior of the park is home to 2200 backcountry campsites.
Stretching 60 miles from east to west and 40 miles from north to south, Quetico Provincial Park is renowned for its rugged beauty - its towering rock cliffs, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine and spruce forests, picturesque lakes and rivers - and for the best wilderness canoeing in the world. There are hundreds of lakes and rivers linked by portages providing endless canoe routes within the park.
The many interconnecting lakes and waterways of Quetico Park feature a large variety of fish. During spring, lake trout are plentiful. In summer, small mouth bass and walleye are common catches.
Fishing licences are available at all ranger stations in Quetico Park. They are required for fishing and must be in your possession when fishing. The catch and release method of fishing is most successful when barbs are removed or crushed and fish handling is kept to a careful minimum.
Live bait fish will upset the natural ecosystem of a lake and are, therefore, not allowed. This includes live cray-fish. Possession of smelt while angling is prohibited. Leeches may be used but must be purchased in Canada and cannot be imported from the USA.
The park abounds in wildlife with one area boasting four moose per square mile, one of the highest densities in the province. The canoeist stands an excellent chance of seeing moose, beaver, otter, marten and the bald eagle. There are red squirrels, chipmunks, beaver and mink as well as 90 species of birds nesting here.
Motorboats are not permitted on the lakes and waterways of Quetico Park, except in the Lac La Croix and Beaverhouse area. Only the Lac La Croix Guides are permitted to use motorboats, limited to 10 horsepower motors or smaller, a maximum of four per day, and only on 10 lakes.
While most of Quetico Park is accessible by water only, there are some hiking trails accessible from the Dawson Trail Campground near Atikokan. Hiking the trails takes approximately 30 minutes to 3.5 hours and range from moderate to strenuous.
At Dawson Trail Campground, visitors can swim at beaches along the shore of French Lake. Visitors to the interior will find many opportunities to take a dip.
Cycling is permitted in Dawson Trail Campground but not on hiking trails.
Quetico is being used more and more for winter camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. There are no groomed trails and snowmobiles are prohibited.
The last of the glaciers receded from Quetico about 12,000 years ago, leaving a landscape dominated by exposed bedrock, rounded, smoothed or scratched, crushed into boulders or shattered to form imposing cliffs.
The visitor to Quetico will find a primeval wilderness of limitless forests, mirror-smooth lakes, and innumerable bogs, all supporting a rich variety of plants and animals. The northern forest is mainly black spruce, jack pine, trembling aspen and white birch, with sheltered pockets of more southern trees such as oak, elm, silver maple, yellow birch and basswood. The park also has magnificent stands of red and white pine. Red squirrels, chipmunks, beaver and mink are among the smaller mammals. Larger species such as wolf, bear and moose also live here, and in summer more than 90 species of birds nest in the park.
Quetico's many interconnecting waterways were the highway system upon which explorers sought the passage to the West. The waterways were also a vital transportation route that supplied fur pelts to the markets of Montreal and Europe in the mid-17th century. Today these waterways are a wilderness paradise for canoeists.
Below are the Canoe Outfitters in the Atikokan/Quetico area that will help outfit your canoe trip into the park.