Quetico offers both the convenience of a campground and the challenge of the backcountry.
Dawson Trail Campground, located 40 km east of the town of Atikokan on Highway 11, provides camping opportunities with services and facilities, sites for all types of recreational equipment and rustic rental cabins.
Quetico’s backcountry provides a world renowned remote wilderness canoeing experience. Canoe and kayak tripping can take you into the pristine backcountry of the park.
Dawson Trail Campground is located on French Lake in the northeast corner of the park at the threshold of the Quetico wilderness. Over 100 campsites are located in two campground loops: Chippewa and Ojibwa.
Both campground loops have electrical campsites and can accommodate trailers and tents. Vault toilets, flush toilets, showers, laundry and water taps are all nearby. Many campsites are lakefront with direct access to water.
Swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking at one of our scenic day use areas, are just a few of the opportunities available at the campgrounds during the summer. The winter months offer groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and ice-fishing.
The extensive network of lakes and rivers at Quetico provide a variety of canoe and kayak wilderness travel experiences. Over 2,200 interior sites through out the park allow fora mix of short, easy trips or extended routes that require skillful paddling, navigation, outdoor living techniques and rigorous portaging.
Quetico is a wilderness park. The backcountry has no facilities, services or signs. Please play your part in the preservation of Quetico Park for future generations by following the principals of “no trace” camping.
Backcountry campsites at Quetico can be reserved online through the Ontario Parks Reservation Service.
Reservations: Backcountry and campground reservations can be made up to five months in advance of the arrival date by visiting our reservations page or by phoning the call centre at 1-888-668-7275, or 1-519-826-5290 (Outside of Canada & U.S.). Verification will be sent by email or mail confirming your reservation for entry into Quetico Provincial Park. Please read it carefully and check your approved entry date, ranger station and entry point. Your reservation is not your permit. The park permit must be picked up in person at a designated ranger station prior to entering Quetico Park. You must travel through the entry point in which your reservation is confirmed. If you need trip planning assistance, please contact the Quetico Park information line at 807-597-2735, weekdays from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:15 pm.
Permits: Interior camping permits are necessary for all overnight trips. Separate reservations and permits are required if your party plans to split up for the purposes of camping or if someone in your group is entering after or leaving before the group. Permits for entry points controlled by Beaverhouse, Atikokan and Dawson Trail Ranger Stations can be purchased at any one of these stations. For Lac La Croix, Prairie Portage and Cache Bay Ranger Stations, you must purchase your permit at the ranger station that controls your entry point. For day trips, you require a daily vehicle permit. A copy of your park permit must be carried with you at all times. During busy time periods please expect to wait at all stations. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and cash are accepted payment methods at all stations.
Check-in-Hours: Park business hours and operating dates vary between stations and operate on Central Daylight Time during the summer months. All park stations generally open the Friday of the Canadian Victoria Day weekend (third Friday in May). Contact park office at 807-597-2735 for station hours.
Self-Serve: During the off-season, park fees are payable through self-serve registration boxes located at each Ranger Station. Rates and instructions for completion are posted. Cash only please, and refunds are not available on self-serve registration. Plan ahead to purchase fishing licenses, maps and Remote Area Border Crossing Permits (if required).
Late Arrivals: Entry cannot be guaranteed after office hours. Note: Allowances will be made for paddlers held up by high winds. You must stop at the Ranger Station to purchase your permits before entering.
Stanton Bay Parking: Overnight parking (from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. CDT) at Stanton Bay is restricted to residents of Canada only.
Lac La Croix Ranger Station: There is road access available to this station at the Hwy 11 turn off at Flanders road, which is 73km (46 Miles) long, or approximately a 1 ½ hour drive. For information on current road conditions and parking facilities please call the Contact the park office at 807-597-2735 or Lac La Croix Ranger Station at 807-485-2555 during the operating season.
Customs: If entering Quetico from outside Canada it is your responsibility to clear Canada Customs. If traveling by water or aircraft to Lac La Croix a seasonal customs station is located at Sand Point Lake (north of Crane Lake, MN) and 47 km from the Lac La Croix Ranger Station. When entering Canada where a Customs/Immigration service is not provided, (Cache Bay and Prairie Portage) pre-clearance to Canada must be arranged well in advance of your trip by applying for a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit. To obtain information and a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit Application, please visit website www.cbsa.gc.ca or For additional information, or to obtain an application form by mail please call the Canada Border Services Agency at 1-877-854-RABC or 807-624-2162.
U.S. Border Services require that all persons entering the United States from Canada must have a valid passport. This includes re-entry into the U.S. from Prairie Portage or Cache Bay. Information is available at http://www.cbp.gov
Backcountry campsites at Quetico can be reserved online through the Ontario Parks Reservation Service.Quetico is a specially managed Wilderness Park.
The protection of Quetico Provincial Park is guided by rules and regulations that backcountry campers must adhere to. While this is not a comprehensive list, the following are a few notable rules to follow.
Please check current boating requirements to ensure regulations are met at http://www.tc.gc.ca
Quetico offers two rustic cabin options: The Log Cabin at Dawson Trail Campground and the Art Studio Winter Retreat (open Oct-Apr).
The Log Cabin (open year round) sleeps 4
Art Studio Winter Retreat (open Oct-Apr) sleeps 4
Bring food, extra water in off season, all cooking utensils, plates, cups and bowls, pots and pans, camp stove and bedding.
Winter time at Quetico offers a quiet solitude and closeness to nature you cannot get at other times of the year.
Outhouses are conveniently located 20 meters away for winter use. Cross country ski our groomed ski trails from your doorstep, explore the hiking trails by snowshoe, try ice fishing on French Lake or go bird-watching.
Please note that domestic animals (pets) are not permitted in the cabins and smoking inside is prohibited. Cooking on camp stove or hot plate not permitted inside the cabins.
Parking for one vehicle is included in your rental fee. There is ample space for up to 2 additional vehicles.
Please note: Art Studio Winter Retreat is walk-in access only (less than 100 metres).
To reserve the Log Cabin at Quetico’s Dawson Trail Campground or the Art Studio Winter Retreat, please call 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) or 1-519-826-5290 outside of North America. This cabin is available for booking year round.
For Questions about this rustic cabin or general questions about Quetico please call our trip planning phone line at 807-597-2735
Quetico Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s finest wilderness canoeing parks. With over 450,000 hectares of protected land and thousands of interconnected lakes, rivers, and streams, Quetico truly offers a lifetime of canoe tripping opportunities. It’s not just the variety of canoe routes that draws folks back to Quetico throughout the years, it’s the special trips shared with family and friends, the quiet solitude of a misty lake in the morning and it’s the way the lakes and forests draw you in. Quetico Provincial Park means many different things to different people. Each of us take away an experience unique to the rest, but share in a recognition that there is something special about this place.
Whether you are spending time in the vast backcountry of the park or at our Dawson Trail Campground, there are plenty of things to see and experience. Consider spending time at Quetico in the fall or winter. At the Dawson Trail Campground there are 30km of groomed ski and snowshoe trails and several cozy rustic cabins. In the backcountry every season can provide a unique and adventurous wilderness trip.
Just to the North of Quetico is the full service town of Atikokan. Our park headquarters is located in Atikokan along with variety of businesses, and services for the park visitor. Adjacent the southwest corner of Quetico is the Anishinabe community of Lac La Croix. The lac La Croix Park Entry Station, the gateway to many of the parks most beautiful lakes is located here. This friendly small community is rich in culture. A traditional Pow Wow and other public events happen throughout the summer.
Campers at the Dawson Trail Campground can explore 35 km of hiking trails, ranging from barrier-free to moderate difficulty.
The Teaching Trail 3.2 km, 2 hours, strenuous
Rough topography and steep slopes are features of this trail as it weaves its way through a variety of forest habitat. The rich diversity of plant life reflects subtle differences in sunlight, soil, temperature, moisture and topography under the forest canopy. The trail winds through a beaver meadow and along the east shore of French Lake. This linear trail can be walked in sections and connects the Day-Use area with Chippewa and Ojibwa Campgrounds (Caution: terrain is slippery when wet.)
French Falls Trail 2.4 km, 1hour, strenuous
This trail is not long but has some steep climbs as it leads you to the cascades of the French River. This is a picturesque, photogenic trail.
French Portage Trail 5 km, 2 hours, strenuous
This hike into the past traces a portage first established by First Nations and later used by European explorers and fur traders. It was, for a short time, the main route for settlement in the Red River area of Manitoba and for further exploration west. French Portage is still part of a canoe route that connects Windigoostigwan and French Lake. The low-lying terrain is sometimes difficult.
Pickerel Point Trail 1.6 km, return, 30 minutes, moderate
Sometimes difficult and steep, this trail follows the Pickerel River and offers a view of French Lake. This trail is designated as a pet exercise play area.
Pickerel River Trail 0.8 km, 30 minutes, barrier-free
The Sheila Hainey Boardwalk along the Pickerel River dips to lowlands along the river’s edge through alder, Balsam Fir and spruce then slowly rises to highlands of pine, birch and poplar. It links the Quetico Information Pavilion at Dawson Trail to the French Lake Day-Use area.
Pines Hiking Trail 10 km return, 3.5 hour, moderate
An extension of the Whiskey Jack Trail, Pines Trail takes in a sandy beach guarded by a stand of majestic old-growth Red and White Pine. Enjoy the solitude of the walk, picnic on the beaches of Pickerel Lake, or venture into the interior. The trail includes moderate to steep climbs.
Whiskey Jack Trail 2.5 km, 1 hour, moderate
This gateway to Quetico’s wilderness begins on a boardwalk that winds through forest-covered lowland thick with mosses, Labrador Tea, horsetail, twinflower, bunchberry, pyrola, Black Spruce and tamarack. The boardwalk gives way to a foot path that meanders through a mosaic of forest habitats. (Caution: terrain is slippery when wet.)
Baptism Creek Trail 1.1 km, 0.5 hours, moderate
This trail links the Whiskey Jack and Camp 111 trails. The hilly terrain goes through a mature Jack Pine stand and finishes at a clearing along the banks of Baptism Creek.
Camp 111 Trail 4.4 km, 2hours, moderate
The Camp 111 trail is the remnants of an old logging road that runs adjacent to the French River. The route travels through a variety of forest types and completes the Dawson Trail System circuit by connecting to the French Falls Trail.
Stretching 60 miles from east to west and 40 miles from north to south, Quetico is renowned for its rugged beauty - its towering rock cliffs, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine and spruce forests, picturesque rivers and lakes - and for the best wilderness canoeing in the world. Except for Dawson Trail, the park is accessible only by water. There are no roads; logging is not permitted and regulations help preserve the park’s natural and remote splendour.
Hundreds of lakes and rivers are linked by 550 maintained portages averaging 400 m and provide a wide range of canoeing opportunities from one day to several weeks.
Some areas of the park are more easily travelled than others. Portages and campsites are not signed. Ask park staff at the ranger stations for the most current information about water levels and portage conditions.
Listed below are suggested routes from each Ranger Station. There are many more routes to take, but this will give first-time users an idea of distance and time.
Dawson Trail Ranger Station:
Baptism Creek-Cache Lake Loop - 123 km (6 days) 18 lakes, 20 portages, challenging
Baptism Creek is accessible from French Lake in the northeast corner of Quetico. Few visitors venture southeast of the lake. This route is recommended for seasoned trippers who are physically able to surmount two of the park’s most formidable obstacles - the Cache Lake portages. For those who don’t mind backtracking or rugged portages, this entry point offers canoeists a quick escape into wilderness solitude and isolation not found at many other entry points.
Atikokan Ranger Station:
Batchewaung - Twin-Jean-Jesse Loop
- 112 km (6 days) 14 lakes, 18 portages, challenging
This popular route features large and small lakes, creeks and easy portages. Upon reaching Pickerel Lake from Batchewaung, steer an easterly course through Pickerel Narrows then head south and southwest through Dore and Twin lakes to gigantic Sturgeon Lake. Near its west end, enter Jean Creek. After paddling north through Burntside and Jean Lakes, bear east on Quetico Lake and continue through Oriana, Jesse and Maria lakes. From there, portage back to Pickerel Lake and return to Nym Lake by reversing the route you followed on the first day.
Beaverhouse Ranger Station:
Cirrus Lake-The Sue Falls Loop
- 40 miles (4 days), 5 lakes, 7 portages, easy
This loop is ideal for those who prefer long, uninterrupted stretches of paddling, with only an occasional portage for leg-stretching. You paddle from the northeast corner of Beaverhouse Lake and then portage east, first to an unnamed lake and then to Cirrus Lake. With nearly half of the route’s portages behind you, paddle to the east end of Cirrus for a view of scenic Sue Falls. Steer south to the longest and most difficult portage of the trip. Upon reaching Kasakokwog Lake, plot a westerly course down McAlpine Creek to another enormous lake. Paddling close to the north shore of Quetico Lake, don’t miss Anishinabe rock paintings (pictographs) on the sheer granite cliffs. From the west end of Quetico Lake, the Quetico River carries you back to Beaverhouse Lake.
Lac La Croix Ranger Station: McAree Lake, easy
McAree Lake is the most convenient of the four entry points accessible from Lac La Croix. From here, it is only three miles to Quetico’s interior. Beyond is some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire Quetico-Superior region. Argo and Crooked Lakes, Curtain Falls, the Siobhan and Darkwater rivers and the pictographs of Darkwater Lake are among the not-too-distant attractions.
Prairie Portage Ranger Station:
Carp Lake-Hunter’s Island Loop
- 379 miles (13 days), 25 lakes, 29 portages, easy to challenging
If you have two full weeks to spend on the water, this route is scenic, historic and one of the most varied. The lakes and rivers along this loop were part of the Voyageurs’ Highway - the route of the fur traders between Lake Superior and Rainy Lake. Throughout the loop are historic sites where First Nations, prospectors, settlers and loggers left their marks. Counterclockwise is the best direction to paddle the loop, allowing you to take advantage of the Maligne River’s occasional swift current. You should allow one layover day, just in case you get held up by high winds on a large lake.
Cache Bay Ranger Station:
- 168 km (8 days) 26 lakes, 37 portages, challenging
Eight days is recommended for this route and you must be a strong and experienced paddlers. Most groups average 10 days. From Cache Bay, paddle to the northeast end of the bay. View Silver Falls at the first portage, then paddle to the north end of Saganagons Lake and begin the journey to the Falls Chain to Kawnipi Lake. After paddling Kawnipi to its northwest end, go south along Kahshahpiwi Creek, through Cairn, Sark and Keefer Lakes, all the way to Kahshahpiwi Lake. From there, portage to McNiece Lake. A chain of smaller lakes and streams leads south to Basswood Lake. From there, paddle northeast along a series of international border lakes back to Saganaga Lake.
The backcountry of Quetico is host to many excellent swimming opportunities. Dawson Trail Campground has a main beach with a designated swimming area, change rooms and facilities.
Quetico’s many lakes and rivers support an exceptional fishery of walleye, Lake Trout, Northern Pike and Smallmouth Bass. A fish cleaning station is available near the beach in the Dawson Trail Campground.
To maintain the health of Quetico’s lakes, Ontario fishing regulations require the use of artificial bait and barbless hooks within Quetico Provincial Park, live or dead organic bait is not permitted in the park (examples include: leeches, worms and salted minnows).
Live and dead bait can introduce invasive aquatic species. Barbed hooks may be pinched to conform to regulation. Reduce fish mortality by using barbless hooks, keep fish handling to a minimum, use proper fish handling techniques, and be aware of fishing regulations.. A valid Ontario fishing licence is required for fishing and must be in your possession. Licences are not available at all park stations and should be purchased prior to your arrival at www.ontario.ca/fishing
There are no dedicated bike trails at Quetico but visitors are welcome to explore the Dawson Trail Campground roads on bicycle.
Natural Heritage Education (NHE) staff offer a variety of interpretive programs during the summer and winter months. Cross cultural educational programming with local first nations, presentations, hikes, workshops and children’s programs are offered throughout the summer months at Dawson Trail.
The Quetico Artist in Residence program is also presented through the NHE department.
Over 200 bird species have been recorded in Quetico, many of which are migratory. During the summer over 100 species of birds nest in Quetico. The park is a major breeding ground for birds of prey such as Bald Eagles & osprey.
The Dawson Trail Campground has a variety of ski and snowshoe trails that are maintained in the winter. Quetico hosts various ski and winter themed events each year. Check the Park Events for up to date information. Rustic cabins are also available for rent year-round.
The Dawson Trail Campground is located on the shores of French Lake. Both campground loops, Chippewa and Ojibwa, have water taps and comfort stations with laundry and showers.
The day-use area is complete with beach, swimming area, change rooms, flush toilets, playground, picnic shelter, outdoor grills and a pet exercise play area. Trails, the Artist’s studio and rustic rental cabins are also nearby.
Follow the boardwalk toward the pavilion, shop in the Park Store, rent a kayak, personal floatation device (PFD) or fishing equipment; learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Quetico or spend time in the John B. Ridley Library.
Unique to Quetico, the John B. Ridley Research Library is located at Dawson Trail and has a large collection of books, articles, pamphlets, maps, slides, photographs, and oral history tapes about Quetico and its environs. The library is staffed full-time from mid-April to mid-September and part-time from October through March. For more information on the library, call (807) 929-2571, Ext. 224.
The Ojibwa and Chippewa Campgrounds both have comfort stations with flush toilets, showers and laundry.
Flush toilets are located at both comfort stations in the Dawson Trail campgrounds, at the Heritage Pavilion, day trail parking lot and at the day-use area.
The park has a number of barrier-free facilities including both campground comfort stations, a campsite in each campground and the boardwalk trail. An all-terrain wheelchair is available at the Heritage Pavilion for loan.
The Dawson Trail Campground has a day-use area with beach, swimming, playground and grills.
Laundry facilities are found at each campground comfort station.
Kayaks and stand up paddleboards (SUPs) are available for rent at the Dawson Trail Campground. Park visitors can also borrow personal flotation devices (PFDs), fishing gear and an all-terrain wheelchair.
A small Park Store selling Quetico souvenirs can be found at each entry station, the Dawson Trail Heritage Pavilion and at the Park Office in Atikokan.
A picnic shelter with tables and grills is found in the day-use area at the Dawson Trail Campground. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Quetico has been a park for over 100 years. The Dawson Trail Heritage Pavillion contains exhibits highlighting the diverse and storied past of Quetico. Downstairs, you are encouraged to explore the John B. Ridley Research Library, which is open to everyone and provides resources for the study of biology, geology, history, culture, archaeology, and wilderness management of Quetico and environs. The collection includes books, articles, pamphlets, maps, slides, photographs, and oral history tapes. There are also a number of index card files on topics such as such as chronological history, biography, lake names and birds.
Park features on this map are representative only and may not accurately depict regulated park boundaries. For official map representation of provincial parks, visit Ontario's Crown Land Use Policy Atlas.
There is no fire ban at this time.
Boil Water Advisory for Dawson Trail Campground - Water must be tested by the Local Public Health Laboratory before it is safe for use. The quality of the water is unknown at this time. Water can be rendered safe for drinking if boiled for at least one minute. All notices will be removed from the taps as soon as we have received confirmation of acceptable laboratory test results.We expect Boil Water Advisory to be lifted by May 22, 2015.
There is no beach posting at this time.