In the Spotlight: the Biscotasing Region

Last week, we shed a spotlight on the beautiful regions of Algonquin Provincial Park and Temagami. Both these areas are held near and dear to the heart of TSC campers and staff. This week, we take a look at the incredible Biscotasing region traveled each summer by our Ishpatina (36 days), Bisco (42 days) and 50 Day trips.

Bisco Region – Area to the north and west of Temagami

  1. Mistinikon Fire Tower – One of the old fire lookout towers in Northern Ontario just to the west of the town of Matachewan, offering a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. The hike up to the tower is only about an hour long and of an easy to moderate difficulty.
  2. Mistinikon Abandoned Mine – Found on the west side of Mistinikon Lake, this abandoned mining operation is an interesting site and features some old mining equipment and can be a nice pit stop during your canoe trip.
  3. Waterfalls – Although not as big as waterfalls that can be found in the Quetico region, the waterfalls in the Bisco are special in their own right. Waterfall highlights include; The Golden Staircase on the Montreal River, Aubinadong Falls on the Aubinadong River, and many more.
  4. Spanish River – Located to the west of the Temagami region, this is a beautiful system of lakes that are known as the number chain. One of things that makes the Spanish River so special for the Ishpatina, Bisco and 50 Day canoe trips that travel through the park, is that we are some of the only people that travel north through the number chain instead of south. The Spanish River is also home to the Bisco Man pictographs on Ninth Lake.

    Photo by Nicole Allen (50 Day 2007)
  5. Biscotasing General Store – This store front is the life blood and centre piece of the town of Biscotasing, Ontario. It is the towns restaurant, general store, post office, LCBO, permit office, train stop and more. The store has been one of our camps start locations for numerous Bisco & 50 Day trips since the first Bisco trip in the 1980s and continues to be a start location and food drop spot for many years to come. Plus, you can buy some amazing memorabilia from the store that you can’t find anywhere else. It is also home of the Biscotasing University.
  6. Fishing – The lakes that make up the Bisco region is home to some of the best fishing in Ontario. Native species of fish that call this area home included, but are not limited to, Pickeral, Pike, Small and Large Mouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, etc. With the region being less traveled than lakes in Temagami or Algonquin, this makes for a great excuse to bring out the fishing rods on your next trip through here.
  7. Gogama – A small northern Ontario town that is the location for many of our food drops for the Ishpatina, Bisco & 50 Day canoe trips. Some of the highlights include a family run restaurant called The Rendez Vous, a war memorial to those that fought in the second world war and the home to one of the MNR’s helicopter depots.
  8. Gowganda – A small town in Northern Ontario that is directly north of one of the more common entrances into the Temagami Region. This small town has been home to food drops for the Ishpatina, Bisco & 50 Day canoe trips for many, many years.
  9. Rocky Island Lake – One of the first lakes that many Biscos and 50 Days have started from to begin their journey. At the West end of the lake, there is a big hydro dam which causes the lake to fluctuate water levels from year to year. Offering canoe trips the unique opportunity to see how dams can change the landscape of lakes with differing water levels. This is of course in addition to the beautiful rock faces and campsites that line the shores of the lake.
  10. Hells Gate Rapids – Found at the end of the Mississagi River, following Rocky Island Lake, this set of rapids is one of the most picturesque areas during the first segment of a Bisco or 50 Day canoe trip. While traversing along the portage that goes around these rapids, you are met with a stunning view of the rapids and its miny waterfall in all its glory. Set with a beautiful back drop of the boreal forest as this rapid cuts through the Canadian shield.
  11. Not seeing many canoe trips – This can be argued as one of the best experiences of going on a canoe trip through the Bisco region. It is significantly less traveled than Algonquin Park, Killarney, or Temagami, which really helps provide the feeling of back to basics that canoe trip is all about. It’s just you and the rest of our cabin group on your 36, 42, or 50 Day journey through the northern Ontario wilderness.
  12. Upper Green Fire Tower – This lookout tower is located on Upper Green Lake and has one of the more unique hikes to the towers base. The beginning of the trail starts from the campsite at the base of the trek and only lasts about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the base. Unlike other fire towers, this tower is not located at the peak of a hill, but in the middle of the forest. As you ascend the climb to the top, you finally break the tree line and are greeted with a fantastic view of the surrounding area.

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    View from the campsite at the base of the trail – Photo by Tyler Stafl (Bisco 2012)
  13. The Great Northern Bend – This section of the Montreal River, north of Matachewan, is the furthest north point that any of the Ishpatina, Bisco or 50 Day canoe trips will go to on their journeys.
  14. The Arctic Watershed – A little known fact is that this is a unique area of Northern Ontario in which the water flow changes from heading south in the province (and following into the great lakes), to flowing north and traveling towards James Bay and Hudson’s Bay. Most Bisco & 50 Day canoe trips will portage past this point in which there is a big landmark depicting this area of the watershed.
  15. Shoo-Fly Lake, Meteor Lake & Thor Lake – These three lakes are special in their own rights and are the beginning of the gateway into the lesser traveled western entrance into the Temagami Region. Shoo-Fly is a very special lake as it has a greenish-blue colour to it, that is most commonly found in Caribbean waters in the ocean. Meteor Lake shares these characteristics to a lesser amount and Thor Lake greets its paddlers with a cliff face that is more than 100 m high.

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    The cliffs of Thor Lake – Photo by Tyler Stafl (50 Day 2014)
  16. Haentschel Lake – This lake the doorway into Temagami that very few travel through besides our camp. It is a small lake off of the northern section of the Wanapitei River that is the first stepping stone towards this entrance way. The exit of the doorway drops you off just south of Ishpatina Ridge, which is the highest point in Ontario.