Algonquin in Four Days: Tim, Rosebary, Longbow Lakes and Tim River

As is tradition, in mid-August, we took off to Algonquin for a mother-daughter backcountry camping trip. Our itinerary was two nights on Rosebary Lake with a day trip to Longbow Lake, and one night on Tim Lake.

Day 1 – Friday


We left the GTA early and arrived at the permit office by 9:15am. The weather forecast looked ominous for the first two days in the park but promised nice weather to round out the trip. As predicted we unpacked and paddled across Tim Lake in a downpour. We planned to stay on Tim Lake for the last night, so we checked out sites on the way by.

The paddle to the 120m portage was fast and easy. We did not see another person after leaving Tim Lake and enjoyed the solitude of the misty, wet day. We grabbed a quick lunch before continuing down the river.


Emerging onto Tim River after the portage is a remarkable experience. The grassy riverbanks are narrow and towered above. It was fascinating paddling such a narrow river. We came upon several beaver dams, but the rain kept the water levels high. Although we had to get out of the canoe, the travel was easy enough (our way home would not be so lucky).

We were doing well until the end of Little Butt Lake – which is more of a pond. We tried to follow a path to the left, which quickly became impassable. Be sure to stick right when exiting Little Butt Lake towards Rosebary Lake or you will get stuck in a bog!


At this point fatigue was setting in and we anticipated the river end! Each bend we were hoping to see the lake!

We found Rosebary Lake to be nearly full, although we passed no one on the river. The only unoccupied sites were the two on the west shoreline. We picked the site in the middle and although not the nicest site on the lake, we grew to like it!

We enjoyed a rainy dinner before turning in early for the night.


Day 2 – Saturday


The morning emerged cool and foggy. This was our rest day, so we took our time before setting off to Longbow Lake for a paddle. Even around 10:30 the fog swirled around us, as haunting loon calls echoed down the lake.

As we paddled down the narrows between Rosebary and Longbow lake, I saw something moving on the edge of the water. Given the time of day, we were sure we were seeing things. Finally, we saw a huge bull moose eating along the water’s edge.

Photo credit: Debbie Leishman

We spent about 45 minutes floating beside him just enjoying the beauty of nature and snapping photos. We eventually left him to his lunch and continued onto Longbow, where we heard some rowdy guys on the largest campsite. Both sites were occupied on the lake. The one to the east looked like the best site.

We decided to paddle down to the portage into Bog Pond. Once past the campsites the lake is long and narrow without anything remarkable to see. We enjoyed the foggy paddle listening to the birds sing overhead.


There is a small island at the end of the lake. We decided to have lunch there instead of continuing to the portage to Bog Pond. A very large beaver dam made us decide to stay on the lake. We enjoyed lunch on the island while a young loon swam the water’s edge watching us with fascination before continuing with his day. We were amazed by how long he stayed.



The sun peaked out on our way back to Rosebary and the lake was much less occupied. We decided to visit the beach campsite on the north-east shore and go for a swim. It really is remarkable to find such a white sandy beach right inside the park! We also walked the path over to the campsite, which looks like it would be lovely to stay on – for another trip! We soaked up the sun before returning to our site.

We had a lovely dinner and stayed up later roasting smores before turning in to read for the night.


Day three – Sunday


The skies were clear, and the sun was up while we packed up camp and got back on Tim River. The first portion of Tim River was an easy paddle, but after Little Butt Lake the river became difficult to pass.

We saw the water was down nearly a foot along the banks of the river. On we paddled looking at the muck just inches below our canoe. We both had no interest in walking through the mucky water, so continued to pull ourselves and the canoe down the river.  We quickly discovered that without the rain, the huge beaver dams had significantly lowered certain areas of the river. We had to get out and walk up the banks a few times before finally arriving at the 120m portage. The portage is relatively easy although steep at one end.


On Tim Lake we found the two island sites occupied that we were hoping for, so settled on the site at the mouth of the river. This site is surprisingly nice although steeply slopes upwards from the water. We found it difficult to pull up the canoe and move our gear.

The main site sits above the water and has a great view in most directions. It is well sheltered and has lots of spots for tents. We spent the afternoon swimming and lying out by the water reading (on the slope) before having a glass of wine, dinner, and turning in for the night.


Day Four – Monday


We were up early and on the water before 10am, although had a nice cooked breakfast first. We had plans to make a few stops on the way home, so wanted to give ourselves lots of time.

The clouds began to roll in and were looking ominous above – a good time to leave. We decided to not try the paddle between the island and went around. We passed a few groups coming in for the week before arriving at the entry point.


Just like that, we had another trip for the books.

It’s been nearly 15 years since I’ve been on Tim River. Although it was hard to pass at times, there is something magical above winding down a river with the sun overhead and the huge banks passing you by. Cheers to another great mother-daughter camping trip!

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