Algonquin & Beyond

Big Trout Lake Map & Overview

Big Trout Lake often ranks at the top of people’s “favourite lakes” in Algonquin Park. Big Trout Lake is quite large, spanning approximately 8 kilometres in length, and almost equally as wide. There are 36 campsites on Big Trout Lake, so even though it’s in a remote location of the park’s interior, it can still get very busy during the summer months.

Many canoe routes have Big Trout Lake as the anchor of the route because of how beautiful it is. Due to its central location, Big Trout Lake can be accessed via a number of different launch points. Canoe Lake (#5) is probably the most common entrance, with different variations of the “Big Trout Loop” being a favourite among both new and veteran canoe trippers. No matter how you get into Big Trout Lake, you’ll be paddling several kilometres and doing many portages, often with creeks, rivers, and beaver dams along the way. It will take two days to get from Canoe Lake to Big Trout Lake, or possibly even three days if your group prefers to move at a slower pace. But the payoff will be well worth it.

Map of campsites on Big Trout Lake in Algonquin Park, updated for 2024
To purchase your own copy (physical & digital formats), visit Maps By Jeff

Campsites on Big Trout Lake

Big Trout Lake is home to 36 campsites spread across its vast waters. More than half of these campsites are located on the various islands scattered throughout the lake. A few of these islands are very small, and have just one or two campsites on it, while some of the other islands are much larger and have a handful of campsites. But whether you end up camping on an island or the main shoreline, you’re almost guaranteed to get a nice campsite on Big Trout Lake.

Many of the campsites on Big Trout Lake are well-equipped with several flat benches of seating surrounding the fire pit, and ample tent spots to choose from. I personally gravitate towards island campsites (I’m particularly fond of Campsite #11), but there are also some epic campsites perched atop large rocky cliffs. Campsite #4 happens to be an island campsite, while also perched up high with a commanding view over Big Trout Lake.

Almost half of the campsites on Big Trout Lake are documented in my database of campsite reports 👇

Paddling On Big Trout Lake

Whenever someone asks for feedback while planning a route that includes Big Trout Lake, my advice is always the same… take a rest day on Big Trout Lake. Paddling on Big Trout Lake is a very beautiful experience with so much to explore. It’s worth spending extra time to fully appreciate everything that the lake has to offer. When it comes to Big Trout Lake, arriving late in the evening and then leaving early the next morning just doesn’t seem right. 

Not only are there a number of islands scattered throughout Big Trout Lake, but there are so many twists and turns as you paddle from one end of the lake to the other, the landscape in front of you will always be changing. Personally, my favourite experience while paddling on Big Trout Lake is entering from the south of the lake (coming from Otterslide Creek). You begin by paddling in a narrow marshy area—often bustling with small wildlife—which then opens into the main body of the lake where you’re greeted by vast open waters and rolling mountainous hills on the opposing shorelines. It really is a view that will make you stop paddling for a few seconds while you soak in all of its beauty.

It’s worth noting that Big Trout Lake can get pretty choppy due to its size, so caution is advised if windy weather is in the forecast.

Portaging To Big Trout Lake

Big Trout Lake is centrally located in Algonquin Park’s interior and can almost be seen as a ‘hub’ for a variety of different canoe routes. People will come from different north, south, and western access points to get to Big Trout Lake.

The most common way of getting into Big Trout Lake is from Canoe Lake. There will be about 10 portages to get into Big Trout Lake this way, with 5 of them being along Otterslide Creek (right before entering into Big Trout Lake). The Otterslide Creek portages are all well-maintained and fairly level. It can be a lot of portaging for new campers, but at least the portages are not very difficult.

Another option is to go from Lake Opeongo into Happy Isle Lake and Merchant Lake, and then take the more daunting 1,820m portage that has some rougher terrain. This will lead you into the far east end of Big Trout Lake. But that 1,820m portage will seem like a breeze compared to the 2,590m portage in the north end of Big Trout Lake, coming from Lake La Muir. With some rolling hills and its overall length, this is probably the most challenging entry into Big Trout Lake. But hey, at least there’s fresh spring water at the Big Trout Lake end of the portage!

Last but not least is the northwest side of Big Trout Lake, where there’s a short, relatively easy 310m connecting to Longer Lake. There are a few boardwalks to walk over at the Longer Lake end of the portage, while the Big Trout Lake end of the portage has a flat beach canoe landing. Nearby is the 850m portage leading into Blue Lake, which is the last of the various portages that will allow you to access Big Trout Lake.

Big Trout Lake Trip Reports

I’ve camped on Big Trout Lake during a handful of different trips. Most often, I’ll camp on Big Trout Lake as a mid-trip destination during a weeklong canoe trip. My first time camping on Big Trout Lake was during my “Trip of Six Islands” canoe trip, where I went all the way from Canoe Lake up to Burntroot Lake and then back down to Canoe Lake. To this date, the “Trip of Six Islands” is still my favourite canoe trip I’ve ever done.

A few years later I decided to once again go from Canoe Lake to Burntroot Lake, during my trip titled “8 Days Solo in September”. I took a slightly different route this time, but after falling in love with Big Trout Lake during previous trips, I decided to camp on Big Trout Lake twice for this trip. Once on my way up to Burntroot Lake, and again on my way back down. I spent three nights total on Big Trout Lake, and I loved every minute of it.

The Verdict... Camp or Skip?

This is one of the easiest “camp or skip” choices. It scores a “camp” with flying colours! Big Trout Lake is the type of lake that is worth planning the rest of the route around, and it’s worth spending a few nights on Big Trout Lake to appreciate everything that it has to offer. There is so much to explore, from its numerous campsites to its varying landscapes, logging camp ruins, a dam built all the way back in 1964, and more. 

In the busy summer months, Big Trout Lake will often be booked to capacity, especially during weekend dates. If you’re considering camping on Big Trout Lake, it’s best to reserve your permit as soon as possible. In the off-season months it won’t be quite as busy, so you won’t need to rush to reserve your permit.

No More Popups!

Members get access to 500+ Backcountry Campsite Reports, 600+ Frontcountry Campsite Reports, Campground Video Tours, and more coming soon. Plus, no popups 👀

Follow on

All of the photos without
all of the reading.