Train in/Train out 10 days

  • 9 Feb 2022 11:59 AM
    Message # 12587188

    Greetings, just bought train tickets to Flindt Landing from Washago for end of July/August. 10 days solo travel, 15-25 km/day. Lightweight canoe for this trip so not much river running.

    Have ordered Guide Book vol. 3 - acknowledge that most of what I am looking for will likely be there but wanted to get a head start.

    Part of concern is booking canoe for baggage - not wanting to lose space on the train (an issue?) so would like to at least lock in departure/return locations.

    I have accessed various on-line maps, happy with those for a start, found True_North's trip reports and others but have not yet found a trip that leaves from Flindt or a bit East and comes back to either Flindt or further East. Many folk come into Armstrong it seems but Caribou Lake less appealing and Little Caribou requires vehicle for take out...maybe all a little too far East from Flindt put-in too for a 10 day trip?

    Up and back would work for me too, looks like many opportunities for side trips but curious about up/down stream on river sections...again, likely to be found in Guide Book, thought I would ask you folk.

    Thanks in advance - Andrew

    Last modified: 13 Feb 2022 4:02 PM | Andrew Pamenter
  • 19 Feb 2022 7:32 PM
    Reply # 12612919 on 12587188

    Andrew, a decade ago my brother and I got off the train at Flindt Landing after a 24-hr. ride from Union Station in Toronto.  We paddled down the Flindt to the Ogoki and down the Ogoki to Whitewater Lake before turning south via McKinley Bay. Once we got to Smoothrock Lake we paddled up the Boiling Sand River for a take-out at Collins. Our route is the one in black and blue on the map included at the bottom of this post. It is about 230 km. long. That is too long a trip for your 10-day solo - unless you are okay with a string of 25-km. days!

    Check out the following post for the info -

    Since you may not want to cover the daily distances that we tend to, there are options for a shorter route that still starts at Flindt Landing  and ends at Collins (on the map it is the route marked in black and is 145 km. ) or at the south end of Little Caribou Lake (the black and red) track and also about 145 km.). Given that you have ten days, one of these two would suit. 

    Once you get to Wabakimi Lake, you would head down into Lower Wabakimi and Smoothrock Lake before heading south towards the Boiling Sand River and a take-out on the tracks. We paddled right to Collins but you could actually stipulate a spot on the tracks to the east of Collins using the mileage marker found in my posts above. 

    The other option via Little Caribou Lake does not look any longer.  You’d need to arrange a shuttle back to Armstrong where you would wait for the train. Clem Quenville would be a good local guy to arrange this for you. Chateau North is a hotel there where you can splurge for a night while you wait for the train.  Going up the Boiling Sands River or the Caribou River will mean  a few portages, none very difficult and most pretty obvious.  There are a number of trip reports out there that will give you more info on what to expect.

    As for the train itself, it seems service has gone downhill since we took it in 2011 and 2012.  Since CN owns the tracks, freight always takes precedence over passenger traffic.  While we drove up to Armstrong in 2021,  the next time we go up tit will probably be by train.   Since VIA is a passenger service, there should not be a problem with a canoe in the baggage car. The two previous times we got our tickets in May and the canoe was not an issue.

    I will admit that the thing I find most worrisome about the train option is the return date. It is on your ticket so you absolutely have to be there on that day.  I have no idea if they would give a paddle a break if you only got there for the next train through two or three days later.  The Economy class fare is really a bargain but the tickets are not refundable. I guess it all depend on how sure you are that you will be on that train.

    Washago sounds like a great place to get on - not as busy as Union Station in Toronto and you can watch as they put the canoe into the baggage car! I was a bit paranoid about that part, worried about the canoe not actually getting on!   

    Send me an email me at if  there is something I have put here that needs clarification or if you have any other questions. 

    The route you are planning makes for an excellent sampler of Wabakimi; it won’t be your last!

    Good luck with your planning. It is always good to eliminate as many potential surprises as possible while accepting that new ones will pop up that you didn't expect!

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    Last modified: 19 Feb 2022 7:36 PM | True North
  • 19 Feb 2022 8:55 PM
    Reply # 12612959 on 12587188

    Great, thank you True_North. I did see your trip report and others, wonderful detail.

    The run to Collins looks appealing. Yes, lots of possibilities and having a fixed return date is a bit cumbersome, all the more so if one busts a gut to get to the take-out only to wait half a day for the train to show up.

    Apparently until March, all VIA tickets purchased are fully refundable regardless of, I said to myself, why not?

    Just got the FOW booklet and will be stitching together some topographical maps to sort out distances and possible routes.

    I have not looked yet but have you paddled on Onamakawash Lake? The run through there and to Schultz's Trail or Tempest Lake looks interesting.

    Canoe as luggage...just called VIA and booked the canoe, will pay on board apparently...still not sure if luggage car eventually gets filled with its limit of canoes and paddlers booked on that particular train are SOL if late in booking. Best to check if there is canoe space on the car before booking the trip?

    Last modified: 19 Feb 2022 8:58 PM | Andrew Pamenter
  • 19 Feb 2022 9:15 PM
    Reply # 12612980 on 12587188

    Andrew, I don't think the train is going to be all that busy. However, if they've cut down the number of trains from three to two per week that may increase demand somewhat for the space available.  I'd check to see how close before the departure date the Economy fare is available and get it then.  Otherwise, just hang on to those tickets you have already purchased.

    Along with the FOW booklet, take a look at the Paddle Planner website.

    If you go into Map Options - Background - you can choose the Topo Canada view.

    Not familiar with Onamakawash Lake...looks like yet another way back to the railroad tracks! You have lots of options that will help you stay within a reasonable total distance.

    You should be okay with your canoe.  It is not as if dozens of paddlers are headed up to Wabakimi each week from southern Ontario by train. You'll be standing there at Washago with all your gear, your ticket in your hand, and the canoe, which you will have prebooked as check-in oversize baggage.  What are they going to do? Given the state of business these days, it is not as if they would turn you away! 

    Strap your paddles and your life jacket inside your canoe and help them put your other packs inside the canoe so everything will be in one place and nothing will get lost - you'll be alright!

    Last modified: 20 Feb 2022 8:58 AM | True North
  • 3 Mar 2022 9:11 AM
    Reply # 12637480 on 12587188
    Andrew Gorman

    Hi Andrew, True_North,

    I am planning on a 14 night trip same route as True_North (great report; wish I had seen it before spending time figuring the same route out!) at end of June into July from Toronto by train (2 person).  I share your train questions/concerns.  I had wondered if I should book from Washago verses Union??  Planning on a Sunday departure so downtown traffic shouldn't be an issue, but the Tuesday return might be a bit "spicy".

    Andrew, you booked to Flindt Landing Station but are you planning on stopping at the mile marker at the river?  If I understand correctly, Flindt Landing station is west of the river.


  • 4 Mar 2022 3:09 PM
    Reply # 12640420 on 12587188

    Andrew - yes, Washago seems to make much more sense especially working alone and coming from outside Toronto already, but I can imagine that it would be kind of fun to maneuver a canoe and gear through the crowds in Union Station - would probably create more smiles than grimaces and remind folk of a larger world out there beyond Toronto.

    Tickets to and from Flindt allow me to pick a spot between there and Armstrong for put-in and take-out.

    Right now looking at Flindt to Wabakimi Lake but have not decided on the route for the descent back to the train. Allan Water sounds like a scenic run and could branch laterally in several places if I found I had some extra time but Smoothrock to Onamakawash is a possibility too.

  • 5 Mar 2022 1:28 PM
    Reply # 12642342 on 12640420
    Andrew Gorman
    Andrew Pamenter wrote:

     and remind folk of a larger world out there beyond Toronto.

    Wait; there is a world beyond TO??  That borders on heretical talk; please remember Toronto is the centre of the universe (with apologies to Wendell Beckwith)


    Yes, Washago does seem to make the most sense in your case.  Solo; gear and canoe in Union Station does not sound like fun to me.

    Sounds like a nice route you have in mind with plenty of opportunities along the way.

    After receiving very helpful advice from True_North we have booked our tickets, out of Union Station, to Flindt Landing returning from Collins; end of June into July. The novelty of portaging through Union Station does have a certain appeal!  Departure should be easy on a Sunday morning, I am hoping (and expect) the return train will be sufficiently late to arrive after "rush hour".  

    We are planning on the Flindt River (had considered Allan Water) up to Wabakimi, across to White Water and down to Collins.  Barring any unforeseen complications, this should give us a couple of days' grace to either loiter along the way or explore off route.

    FYI I have found the below site good to get satellite imagery, much better than google (go to the "select map layers" and click on imagery and you can play with the amount of detail shown).

  • 23 Jul 2023 8:49 AM
    Reply # 13231161 on 12587188

    New Plans! A knee injury and refundable tickets led to a cancellation of the trip last year.

    Now embarking on Wabakimi 2.1 - original route closed due to fires in the West of the park. Heading North from Shultz's Landing to Smoothrock-Whitewater and back South to Bath Lake via Boiling Sand River.

    I will check in upon return.

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