Overview: This short overnight trip is great for a weekend and requires no shuttling. The paddling is generally easy but be prepared to get out and pull your canoe over numerous beaver dams. Some sections of the creeks are very twisty and going upstream against the current (Day 1) takes longer than coming back down. The area is pretty, with mixed forest and attractive hills. The creeks wind through large low areas of standing grass and cattails with lots of bird and marsh life. Look for bald eagles and tundra swans.
Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Distance: approximately 26km round trip
When to go: any time between spring and fall depending on water levels
For a map of the entire Prince Albert National Park area, click here.
Access: You can enter Prince Albert National Park via the south entrance (Highway 263) or the east entrance (Highway 264). Either way, head west on the road towards the Narrows Campground. About 4km in the road goes right beside Amiskowan Lake on the left - this is the put-in. You'll know you've gone too far if you get to the Mud Creek Trail turnoff.
At the put-in you'll simply pull your vehicle over and park it on the side of the road. We've done this numerous times without issue. It's a little steep getting to Amiskowan Lake but it is right down from the road.
Description: You're usually safe doing this trip in May, but any later than that it's a good idea to watch water levels. If Waskesiu has been getting rain you can go anytime; Jeff has done this trip in the fall before. Note however that if water levels have been low Amiskowan Lake can get quite clogged with vegetation later in the summer as it is extremely shallow and warm.
On the first day, heading in to Beartrap Lake, expect to paddle about 4 hours. The creek sections between the lakes twist and turn through thick cattails and grass and are broken up by small beaver dams. Many of these require getting out of the canoe and simply pulling it over the dam, so give yourself extra time for this.
The last section of creek right before Beartrap Lake can get pretty choked and you may need to get out and drag your canoe over sections of cattails and grass. (This just makes you appreciate getting to camp that much more.)
Once you get past this, the campsite is across the lake just east of a tiny inlet where an old canal was built connecting Beartrap Lake and the Spruce River. This crosses the headland between the Churchill River watershed and the North Saskatchewan River watershed. For some people (especially young boys) it is a ritual to pee ceremoniously near camp and "feed" both enormous watersheds at the same time.
The campsite itself is on a grassy ridge with mature pine trees, fantastic for setting up multiple hammocks. There is a firepit there and a picnic table. It's located at the tail end of a spur coming off the Freight Trail; it is no longer maintained but you can still follow it back if you feel like going for a walk.
Day two takes about 3 hours of paddling time to retrace your path back to the road, and now that you know what you're getting into it generally goes more quickly. Going with the current makes it easier getting down some of the twisty sections.
Enjoy your trip!
- the Eb's family