Alberta’s Best Backcountry Canoeing

This article originally appeared in Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine.

Lakeland is a wildland getaway on the edge of the boreal forest that’s home to Alberta’s best backcountry canoe circuit (rebuttals welcome). The route may come with a few quirks (such as motorized aluminum fishing boats towed by ATVs into all but McGuffin Lake), but the park’s draws include easy access, uncrowded backcountry campsites, outstanding angling and frequent flyovers by white pelicans, red-necked grebes and raptors.

Access is 55 kilometres east of Lac La Biche at the Jackson Staging Area (Mile 12 on Touchwood Lake Road). Load a nearby canoe cart and follow the portage trail for 3.2 kilometres to the dock on the north arm of Jackson Lake. From there it’s less than a one hour paddle to a large, grassy campsite on the eastern shore (if you arrive late you can stay at Touchwood Lake Campsite). In the morning, duck under the Isthmus Bridge separating Jackson and Kinnaird lakes and follow the western shore to Kinnaird Island’s campsite. Solitude-seekers can strive for McGuffin Lake by following the southeastern shore of Jackson Lake through several scenic ponds to a 600-metre portage.

No need to adopt a minimalist approach. Canoe carts are available free of charge where needed. 

Need-to-know info:


Canoe Rental

Totem Outfitters in Edmonton.


Online at

Park Information

This article appeared in Canoeroots & Family Camping, Early Summer 2009. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here