Algonquin & Beyond

North tea Lake Map & Overview

North Tea Lake is one of the largest lakes in Algonquin Park. It’s located in the northwest corner of the park, near the Kawawaymog Lake Access Point (#1). North Tea Lake is known for its infamously treacherous winds, but also for its incredibly beautiful aesthetic with its vast landscapes, rolling shorelines, and gorgeous campsites. The lake has close to 70 campsites, and for reservation purposes the lake is split into two sections: North Tea Lake, West Arm and North Tea Lake, East Arm.

North Tea Lake is a staple destination in the northwest region of Algonquin Park. It’s most frequently accessed either from Kawawaymog Lake Access Point (#1) or Kiosk Lake Access Point (#29). If you’re beginning a trip from Kawawaymog Lake, you’ll be guaranteed to pass through North Tea Lake. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach the west end of North Tea Lake from Kawawaymog Lake, however, paddling across the lake can be more than 2 hours itself. And that’s if the winds cooperate with you! If you’re beginning a trip from Kiosk Lake, reaching North Tea Lake will be much longer and will take over 6 hours to reach the east end of the lake. North Tea Lake will usually be a second or third night destination if you begin from Kiosk Lake.

Despite being a popular lake in Algonquin Park, North Tea Lake can still be considered a hidden gem. Getting to North Tea Lake is no more difficult than getting to lakes like Pen Lake, or Burnt Island Lake (both along the Highway 60 corridor). However, North Tea Lake tends to have less occupancy than those lakes, and other popular lakes along Highway 60. It’s a great option for a quick there-and-back from Kawawaymog Lake, or as a stopping point during a longer canoe route.

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

Campsites on North Tea Lake

North Tea Lake is the type of lake you can arrive late in the evening and not be worried about finding a nice campsite. There’s a combination of beach campsites, island campsites, rocky shoreline campsites, and then a few not-so-great campsites that don’t fit any of the above criteria (but don’t worry, there’s only a few of those). The East Arm of the lake tends to have more rocky shoreline campsites, while the West Arm of the lake tends to have more beach campsites.

It’s difficult to recommend the ‘best’ campsites on North Tea Lake because it really comes down to preference. The beach campsites on the north shore in the West Arm are great choices if you want a large beachfront, and especially if you’re planning a route to the lakes north of North Tea Lake. Many of the island campsites are very beautiful, and personally, I’m a huge fan of island campsites. But some of them come with the tradeoff of being close to other campsites, meaning privacy may be an issue, as well as noise from your neighbours.

Instead of focusing on individual campsites, I’ll just say this… don’t worry about finding a nice site on North Tea Lake. I’m confident you’ll be satisfied with wherever you end up.

I’ve been able to document more than half of the almost 70 campsites on North Tea Lake. For detailed written descriptions and photos of each campsite, you can view my Campsite Reports 👇

Paddling On North Tea Lake

Wind. Wind. Wind. Ok, I said it three times, so now there’s no excuse for you to not know about the potential for strong winds on North Tea Lake! It’s one of the largest lakes in Algonquin Park. It’s a vast open body of water that runs east-west, with potential for large whitecaps and big swells.

But wind aside, paddling on North Tea Lake is an extremely beautiful journey. There are several islands scattered throughout the lake, rolling landscapes in all directions, and maple trees along the northern shoreline that display their vivid colours during the fall season. There are few lakes in Algonquin Park that compare to the paddling experience on North Tea Lake. I find it reminiscent of paddling on Big Trout Lake, which is a favourite lake for many park goers.

If you enter North Tea Lake from the west, which is the most common entrance, the first challenge will be crossing the open body of water until you reach the first set of island campsites. After the island campsites will be another stretch of open water until you reach the dividing peninsula. The peninsula is almost exactly halfway through the lake, and separates the West Arm and East Arm of North Tea Lake with a narrow passageway. It’s almost like an hourglass that got sliced in half vertically, and then flipped on its side.

After the narrow passageway you can divert south towards Mangotasi Lake, or you can continue through the East Arm towards Manitou Lake. The East Arm has more islands to paddle past, which can be used to take shelter from the wind if needed. The final stretch is an open section of water that leads towards one of two portages into Manitou Lake. The total time to cross North Tea Lake in its entirety can be upwards of 2 hours, especially if the wind is not in your favour. 

Portaging To North Tea Lake

There are five portages that lead in and out of North Tea Lake. The most popular portage, by far, is the 280m from the Amable Du Fond River. It’s the only way into North Tea Lake from the Kawawaymog Lake Access Point. It has a beach landing on the west side, with a few stairs to climb, and a rocky shoreline on the east side, after a final decline down some more stairs. But other than those few stairs, the portage is flat, well maintained, and heavily used.

In the far east are two portages that lead to Manitou Lake. The 580m is the easier of the two, plus it has stunning large waterfalls directly adjacent to the portage, near the south (North Tea) end of the portage. I visited those waterfalls during a day trip while camping on North Tea Lake, and they were spectacular. Then I went for a swim with my pup Elo at the southern entrance of the portage, in the large, shallow beachfront that welcomed us.

Heading north of North Tea Lake, there’s a challenging 1,940m from the East Arm that leads into Lorne Lake. In the East Arm, there’s another portage heading north that forks after 160m into either a 280m portage (followed immediately by another 250m portage) into Lost Dog Lake, or a steeply elevated 1,820m portage into Sisco Lake. Any of these portages heading north of North Tea Lake will be more challenging than sticking to the east-west options.

Last is the 1,170m portage into Cayuga Lake. With only one campsite on Cayuga Lake, and few campsites in the adjacent lakes, this is the least travelled portage of the bunch. The portage begins with a steep incline right at the beginning and then levels off to follow a rather steady incline for the remainder of the portage. The total elevation gain is approximately 36m over the total 1,170m distance, going uphill from North Tea Lake into Cayuga Lake.

North Tea Lake Trip Reports

My first time visiting North Tea Lake was in 2023. I did a 6-day trip with my pup Elo that took us from Kawawaymog Lake into North Tea Lake for two nights, Biggar Lake for two nights, and then back to North Tea Lake for an additional night. I originally had 10 nights booked, but the trip took place during a massive heatwave with daytime temperatures in the mid 30’s and overnight temperatures in the 20’s. The heat was unbearable at times, and with Elo being a double-coat Australian Cattle Dog with long, black hair, I didn’t feel responsible keeping her out for the full 10 days in those temperatures.

But a few weeks later I decided to go back for another 3 nights. I felt like I needed more time to fully explore and appreciate everything that North Tea Lake had to offer, and after cutting the first trip short, I wanted to redeem myself and spend a few more nights on the lake. We did a basecamp trip, staying on what I called “The Island MEGA-Site”, and then ventured to different areas of the lake during our rest days.

Both of those trips were amazing experiences. I witnessed gorgeous moonrises, dazzling displays of starry skies, surprisingly calm water with perfect shoreline reflections, and stunning fall colours along the lake’s rolling shorelines. For more details and loads of pictures (including the northern lights!) feel free to check out those trip reports. 

The Verdict... Camp or Skip?

After my first time camping on North Tea Lake, I immediately fell in love with the lake and then went back a few weeks later for another trip. Between the two trips, I spent a total of six nights on North Tea Lake. I think that might have been the only time that I had ever gone back to the same lake, just a few weeks apart.

Based on that story, I bet you can guess my verdict for this one. I thoroughly enjoyed both trips to North Tea Lake, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back again. Probably very soon, to be honest. The lake itself is beautiful, there’s no shortage of nice campsites to choose from, and it’s easy to incorporate into many different canoe routes in the area. Yes, the lake can be very busy, and there are motorboats allowed on the lake, but that’s not enough to stop me from recommending North Tea Lake to anyone that’s considering it as a destination.

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