Algonquin & Beyond

Misty Lake Map & Overview

Misty Lake is one of the larger and more popular lakes in the west side of Algonquin Park. It’s an anchor to many different canoe routes that start from Magnetawan Lake Access Point (#3) and Rain Lake Access Point (#4). Misty Lake can be reached in one day when coming from either of those access points, and will take approximately 5 hours of travel from Magnetawan Lake or 6 hours of travel from Rain Lake. Even though Misty Lake can be reached in one day, both options have several portages on route and the journey is often split into two days. 

Misty Lake is an attractive there-and-back destination, or can also be built into various loop options. Both new campers and seasoned canoe trippers will be found camping on Misty Lake. The lake has 20 backcountry canoeing campsites to choose from. Many of the campsites are nice, with large rocky outcrops by the water. Since the lake is very long and odd-shaped, many of the campsites provide decent protection from the westerly winds, along with seclusion from other campers on the lake. Wildlife viewing opportunities can also be great on Misty Lake.

Misty Lake offers a comforting feeling for people that want to explore deep into Algonquin Park’s backcountry, but without being completely disconnected. Since it’s a large lake with many campsites, there will usually be other people nearby. This can sometimes be preferred, especially for new soloists that want the comfort of having people nearby in case of an emergency.

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

Campsites on Misty Lake

One of the biggest draws of Misty Lake is its campsites. There are 20 campsites to choose from, spread throughout the approximately 10 kilometre long lake. Campsite #2 on the island is a popular choice. It’s a pretty campsite with a beach landing, and the backside of the island offers a view of the marshy west narrows of Misty Lake.

I’ve only camped on Misty Lake one time, and I stayed at Campsite #6. This campsite is also on an island, and is the much larger of the two camping islands on Misty Lake. There are two other campsites that share this island (three campsites in total), but due to its location and the terrain of the island, Campsite #6 is completely secluded from the others.

Many of the other campsites on Misty Lake have large rocky shorelines, which will become even more exposed during low water levels. Some campsites offer good seclusion, some offer protection from the westerly winds, and some offer pretty views onto the main body of Misty Lake. There’s something for everyone when it comes to choosing a campsite on Misty Lake.

For detailed written descriptions and photos for campsites on Misty Lake, you can view my Campsite Reports 👇

Paddling On Misty Lake

Paddling on Misty Lake is a really diverse paddling experience. The most common entrance to the lake is from the 950m portage in the west end of the lake. Immediately after the portage is shallow grassy waters with rocks lurking underneath the waterline. This marshy area continues until you arrive at the first island campsite (Campsite #2), which is when the water becomes deeper and the shoreline views become more vast.

Paddling through the main body of Misty Lake has variety in itself, with the scattered islands and handful of peninsulas and bays creating visual diversity every time you look in a new direction.

Misty Lake quickly narrows, with the majority of the eastern half of the lake being no more than a few hundred metres wide. There are a couple campsites in the eastern half of the lake, but for the most part, the eastern half of Misty Lake feels much more isolated and remote. Paddling through this half of the lake has a totally different vibe than the western half.

The entirety of Misty Lake is a beautiful paddling experience, and the shorelines can be alluring with their striking colours during the fall season. If you’re camping overnight on Misty Lake, I’d recommend getting on the water as early as possible so you can enjoy a peaceful, calm paddle along the lake by yourself while the other groups are just beginning their morning routines.

Portaging To Misty Lake

In the Overview section I mentioned that Misty Lake is an anchor to many different canoe routes on the west side of Algonquin Park. One of the main reasons for this is that there are a total of 6 different portages leading in and out of Misty Lake. 

Groups travelling along the Tim River can turn south and go through Shah Lake and Pandion Pond into Misty Lake. The 720m from Pandion Pond has a steep incline at the very beginning of the portage, and continues to have some elevation change through. Despite its ups-and-downs, there is only a 1 metre elevation difference between Pandion Pond and Misty Lake. You basically end up right where you started, in terms of elevation.

The 950m portage from Little Misty Lake is the most travelled of the options, and thankfully, it’s a pretty easy portage, despite its length. The 840m from Timberwolf Lake is similar in length, and also similar in difficulty. I’m particularly fond of the large flat landing on the Misty Lake end of the 840m portage.

I haven’t done the 140m or the 1030m portages, but based on map details, the former appears to be a breeze, while the latter has a 35m elevation change between Muslim Lake and Misty Lake. If you’re travelling from Muslim Lake into Misty Lake, you’ll be going downhill for the entire portage.

The last of the six portages is the 850m from Misty Lake into the Petawawa River. At the start of the portage you’ll be greeted to massive circular saw blades laying on the grass. The portage itself is overgrown in areas, and while it has some ups-and-downs, it’s not overly difficult. The trail does follow alongside a waterway, as well as old dam remains. It’s not the easiest of the six portages, but it’s the most interesting of the bunch.

Misty Lake Trip Reports

My first time on Misty Lake was during a 6-day solo canoe trip, aptly titled “6 Days Solo in Algonquin”. The trip took me from Magnetawan Lake into Misty Lake, which is where I spent the first evening. I camped on one of the island campsites and got to enjoy a beautiful sunset while watching beavers swim beside my canoe. There was also tons of moose poop at my campsite, although to my dissatisfaction I didn’t actually get to see a moose during my stay.

I continued onwards through the Petawawa River and spent a few nights on White Trout Lake, and one night on McIntosh Lake, before heading back through Misty Lake again. I was supposed to camp on Misty Lake for my final night of the trip, but due to bad weather and a few other factors, I decided to push forward and end my trip one day early. It was a really tough decision, especially since I made it to the vacant small island (Campsite #2) and would have loved to spend the night there.

The Verdict... Camp or Skip?

I’ve paddled through Misty Lake a few times, and have spent one night actually camping on the lake. But I want more. There are so many campsites to check out, so many bays to explore, so many potential moose sightings just waiting to be had!

I’ve had Misty Lake on my “I need to go back” list for a few years now (like that epic scene from the show Lost… you know the one), but I haven’t yet fulfilled my Misty Lake destiny. Safe to say, I’m always eyeing Misty Lake as a potential option for upcoming trips. The campsites are attractive, the landscape is beautiful, and it’s an easy destination to build into a variety of different canoe routes in the area.

If it wasn’t obvious based on the last two paragraphs, Misty Lake easily gets a “camp” verdict from me.

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