Wakami Lake Provincial Park sits very near the “height of land.” That is, the place where water either flows to the Great Lakes and eventually out to the Atlantic Ocean, or north to Hudson Bay and the arctic watershed.
It’s also a place where the southern forests of Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch give way to the trees of the boreal forest. Poplar, White Birch, Jack Pine, Balsam Fir and Black Spruce begin to dominate here.
Bald Eagles and Osprey are commonly seen fishing the productive waters of the lake. Wakami Lake is one of the best Walleye lakes in the northeast. Wildlife is abundant, and so is the quiet.
What to expect when visiting Wakami Lake
Wakami Lake itself is 15 km long (running north to south) and lies between forest-covered hills. Boreal forest wraps around it, but tall White Pine (more common further south) poke up here and there, towering over their neighbours.
The park is quiet. The road to the park doesn’t see much traffic. No highways or railways pass by, and there are no city lights to blot out the stars.
A piece of geological history
On the east side of the park, over the ridge, where few visitors go, there is a reminder of the past frozen in time. After the great glacial ice sheet had melted from the area, there were no trees. It was dry. The winds blew the sand into dunes – parabolic dunes, like in a desert!
As the climate changed again, these dunes became surrounded by a huge wetland, and grew thin ribbons of forest. Those trees helped to stabilize the dunes, “freezing them in time.”
The lake itself is quite large (15 km long) with a number of bays to explore. A boat launch and docks are found between Maple Ridge and Brown’s Bay campgrounds, and provide access to a beautiful area for boating and fishing.
The lake’s size gives kayakers a chance to get into the rhythm and spend days exploring. The park’s backcountry campsites allow canoeists an easy basecamp to check out the lake from, and are surrounded by boreal forest.
The park store sells maps with underwater contours showing structure and shoals. Stop by the gatehouse before leaving for your site! The park also provides a free map of the backcountry campsites.
Wildlife at Wakami Lake
Wildlife is plentiful in the park and surrounding area. The boreal forest is known as Ontario’s “songbird nursery,” with plenty of food for bird parents to raise a healthy brood of chicks.
Warblers of many species are plentiful, as are Common Loons, Osprey and Bald Eagles. This is also moose country – watch for Moose on the local roads and highways.
While enjoying Wakami Lake’s campground, trails or backcountry, it’s wise to remember that you are in the natural habitat of Black Bears. Bears have a keen sense of smell, and are attracted by the odour of human food and garbage.
To avoid conflicts with bears prepare, educate yourself, and be aware. Click here for information on being Bear Wise.
Camping at Wakami Lake
Camping here is quiet and relaxed. The campground is divided into four areas: Birch Hill, Pine Grove, Maple Ridge, and Brown’s Bay. Many of the 59 sites are right on the lake, with a nice bit of waterfront that’s all your own. Sometimes the resident ducks or foxes will come for a visit. Please remember not to feed the wildlife.
Wakami Lake does not have electrical sites or comfort stations. Water taps provide drinking water, and there are vault privies.
The park has laundry facilities for post-camp clean-up. There is a park store for souvenirs, maps and treats. Supplies and groceries are available in the nearby town of Chapleau.
Wakami Lake’s backcountry campsites are what you would consider a “semi-remote” experience. You can paddle or motorboat to any one of the sites and experience a sense of nature and solitude, yet still be close to the main campground.
All backcountry sites are water-accessible by canoe, kayak, and motorboat. No roads access the campsites. Each site offers something different ranging from sandy beaches to rocky water’s edge.
The sites are located around the perimeter of the lake so you can fish from shore, view wildlife, and experience beautiful sunsets and clear, star-filled night skies. Each site on Wakami Lake is equipped with a fire ring, picnic table, and pit privy.
To obtain permits for backcountry camping, please visit our reservation service or call 1-888-668-7275. Permits are also available at the gatehouse during operating hours.
Don’t forget: pack it in, pack it out to help us keep Wakami Lake clean and tidy. There is no can and bottle ban at Wakami Lake, however it’s good practice to pack food and beverages items in reusable or collapsible containers.
Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter that cannot be burned. Waste facilities are available in the main campground. Nothing should be left on your campsite when you leave. Do not bury garbage, as wild animals will just dig it up. Practice leave no trace camping!
Feel like a wander?
There are two hiking trails that can be accessed directly from the campground.
- The Transitional Forest Trail (2.5 km, with optional 5 km) has forest with trees typical to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence lowlands, growing side by side with boreal forest species
- The Beaver Meadow Trail (2.4 km) takes you into the boreal forest where hikers can discover how the industrious beaver has altered the landscape
The park has a number of other trails that provide opportunities to explore the boreal landscape.
One of the park trails is a little different. This trail wanders through the park’s Historical Logging Exhibit. The exhibit is comprised of log cabins, equipment, and vehicles that tell the stories of the Wakami Lumber Company, which operated winter logging camps on the lake and surrounding area in the early to mid-1900s.
Men came to work in the north each winter, cutting down the huge pine that dominated the forests here. The exhibit shows the transition from the horse-logging era to the age of mechanization.
The park has been busy refurbishing the logging exhibit, but in the meantime, most sections are open and park visitors can still take in the heritage of those early days.
Shhhh…the fishing is really good
The fishing at Wakami Lake is so good that some park staff would like us to keep it a secret.
It’s because the Walleye fishing here is one of the most productive in northeastern Ontario. Past park staff come back regularly for camping and fishing.
Wakami Lake also provides anglers with good opportunities for Northern Pike and Whitefish, whether from a boat, canoe, or kayak. Shore fishing at the backcountry campsites and surrounding shoreline also yields results.
James Smedley, Travel Editor at Ontario Out Of Doors Magazine, did some fishing and camping at Wakami Lake recently — watch here.
Facilities include a boat launch, plenty of dock space, and fish cleaning tables at Birch Hill and Brown’s Bay to clean your catch on. Some campers pull their boats up on their own piece of sandy shore if they have a waterfront site.
Boat rentals, canoes, and kayaks
The main campground has boat and motor rental packages, available by the day or week, to be used on Wakami Lake to access the remote campsites.
Also available are recreational canoes and kayaks to use in the park. Please call ahead (705-864-3137) to reserve a boat and motor as they are in high demand.
Bringing your own boat?
While docks are available for loading boats and canoes, daily rates apply to leave your boat tied up. Please call ahead (1-705-864-3137) to reserve a boat slip, as they are also in high demand.
Does waterfront camping, great fishing, and plentiful wildlife sound pretty darn good to you?