All of Algonquin

Trip Reports, Campsite Reviews & More

Trip Reports, Campsites & More

Potter Lake

September 2022 - spotlight lake

Potter Lake is about 5.5 KM north of Canoe Lake. The most direct route is by way of Potter Creek. While water levels can sometimes be a challenge for stretches, Potter Creek is a relatively easy paddle with only a couple of portages to navigate. The longest, a P740 that leads into the south end of Potter Lake, follows the Arowhon road, and is about the easiest 740 meter portage I’ve ever done. It takes about half a day to get from the access point to Potter going this way and, once you’re there, well, you might wonder why you bothered.

Potter Lake

Potter Lake isn’t so much a lake as it’s a widening of Potter Creek. It’s long, narrow and fairly shallow.  Whether it’s a lake or a creek, it is a crossroads. You can pass through it going north/south or east/west. Both east and west, Potter’s immediate neighbours are smaller lakes on low maintenance routes without any campsites. The closest campable lake going west is Rainbow and the closest going east is Tom Thomson. I prefer both of these lakes to Potter. That said, there are easier ways to get to both than by going through Potter, so odds are if you’re up this way you’re probably choosing between Potter Lake and its neigbour to the immediate north, Brule Lake (and I’d 100% pick Brule over Potter).

If, however, you do end up on Potter, you’re going to have five sites to choose from. The sites here are fine, but not spectacular. I’ve visited sites 2, 3 and 4 and checked out 1 and 5 from the water. Of the five, my first choice would be site 3. 

Site 3 is right in the middle of Potter Lake. It’s a small, south facing, point site sandwiched in between the portage over to Groundhog Lake to the east and Pathfinder Lake to the west. It’s up a small hill, but is nicely laid out with a nice fire pit area and room for a couple of tents at least.

Site 2 backs onto the road that runs up the entirety of Potter’s east shore. It’s a fairly enclosed site, although it does have a nice rocky beachfront. There’s nothing special about it, and the fact that you could have a truck drive within 20 feet of your tent is a bit of a drawback (lots of raspberry bushes near the road though!).

Inside Potter Lake - Site 2
Potter Lake - Site 4 - Campsite View

Site 4, just up the western shore from the Bear Lake portage, is a compact site on a nice, sandy beach. I didn’t mind this site. It’s small, but would work for a solo camper. And it would feel more secluded than some of the other sites on Potter. 

Potter Lake Tree

The scenery around Potter is nice, in a way that I think of as Generic Algonquin. The shoreline is primarily evergreen with a few hardwoods sprinkled in. That road I mentioned for site 2 runs up Potter’s western shore, and it kind of kills the backcountry vibe to have a ministry truck moseying along beside you as you paddle around. Speaking of, Potter is a nice paddle. While it’s long and relatively narrow, there’s a cool spot about halfway up the lake in particular where you can go around a small island and the water gets fairly shallow. I’m not sure why, but I’m a fan of this area. Maybe it’s the massive Christmas tree sitting on the east shore as you paddle through. For whatever reason, I find this part of Potter a pretty paddle. 

To me, Potter Lake would be more of a waystation than a destination. If you were staying here, I would expect it would only be for a night before heading on to other (better) spots. If for some reason you decided to make a multi-day stay of it, it would be worthwhile paddling through some of the smaller lakes nearby on a day trip. There’s a small loop jutting off Potter that takes you through Bear, Hanes and Pathfinder Lakes. This is a low maintenance loop with no campsites to visit, but the scenery is quite pretty. Bear and Hanes in particular are nice little spots. You can also day trip up to Brule and check out the site of the old town of Brule. There’s not much there now, but you can see the clearing where the town used to sit on the north shore.

Paddling across Bear Lake
Hanes Lake

And that’s about it for Potter Lake. The longest paragraph in this piece is the one where I talk about reasons to leave Potter Lake and check out other spots, which pretty much sums up how I feel about Potter. It’s not a terrible spot by any means, it’s just not very good, either.

Spotlight lakes are featured in each issue of The Thunderbox. If you want to get each month’s lake hot off the presses, feel free to add your email in the box below. You’ll receive the monthly Thunderbox update and trip reports as they are published.

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