Opeongo Lake – East Arm – Sites 16-19

Site Details

Closest Access Point:  Opeongo Lake (Access # 11)
Distance to Access Point: 15 KM (3 hours to 1 day depending on conditions)
Difficulty of Travel From Access Point: Easy (but again, it’s condition dependant. You can also take a water taxi from the access, then it’s super easy).
Maintenance Level:Regular
Date Visited: September 2022

Look, I’m going to cheat here. You probably clicked on this link looking for information on a specific site. The truth is, sites 16-19 along this stretch are all extremely similar. So much so that it doesn’t make sense to me to do separate reports for them. The three sites between the Wright portage and cart trail are particularly alike. It’s hard to say where one starts and the other ends. Note, I said three sites. The map only shows two along that stretch but there are three campsite signs, three fire pits, three thunderboxes etc. So consider this a five for one report. I’m going to highlight the features they all have in common to start with, then move on to any site specific differences.

The beach that fronts each site.
Typical campsite terrain along this stretch

Overview The sites are all built across a flat stretch of shoreline on either side of the Wright Lake portage. Each site is fronted by a section of the wide, curving beach that dominates this part of the lake. The swimming here is excellent. The beach is a nice mix of sand and stone and goes out for a good distance. The exposure is westward, meaning you’ve got great afternoon sun to dry off in after your swim. 

The terrain across each site is almost uniformly flat (Sites 16 and 17 vary a bit, but we’ll get to that). The sites are all studded with stands of pine. This makes each site feel a little bit less exposed when you’re on it, but in reality the trees don’t really obstruct your view. I could see the people two campsites over quite clearly from where I was having lunch at the end of the Wright portage.

Opeongo East Arm - Site 19
Opeongo East Arm - Site 18 view from beach

There’s room on each site for multiple tents. The fire pits are all more or less central to what I imagine is meant to the site’s footprint. Sites 16 and 17 have pretty decent bench setups near or around the pit. Site 17 has an actual picnic table! Conversely, the sites in between the Wright portage and Dickson cart trail have either no benches or lone logs that are the next closest thing to nothing at all. 

The view from each site is west, meaning you’ll get great sunsets over the water. Each site has a degree of partial obstruction. Sites 16 and 17 have the most shoreline growth, sites 18-19 (and 18a I guess for the third one) don’t have as much growing along the shore, but they do all have those pines I mentioned earlier. Each of them has its own thunderbox a short hike into the woods behind the sites. From what I recall the boxes were all in reasonable condition, although looked like they had seen some use.

Picnic Table on Opeongo East Arm - Site 17
Fire damage behind site 17

The elevation changes a bit as you head north along the shore. There’s more of a rise from the beach to sites 16 and 17. It flattens out somewhat once you get past the James Dickson memorial cairn (at the start of the Wright Lake portage). 

Of the five sites along this stretch, my first pick would be site 16. It’s separate from the others which allows for more of a sense of privacy. It also has a nice picnic bench, which could certainly come in handy. 

Site 17 would also be a nice option, but unfortunately half the forest behind it has been burned down in a recent fire. If you’re getting into The Last Of Us and really want to try out the post apocalyptic camping lifestyle, this might be a good option. Otherwise, having burned out trees for about 180 degrees of your field of vision might be a bit of a downer.

Walk up to site 17 from beach
Site 19

If I’m going to rank these sites I’d go with Site 16 at the top, Site 19 (by virtue of being at the other end of the string and somewhat separated from its neighbour by forest) second, Site 17 next (despite the fire damage) and then 18 and 18a tied for fourth. There’s nothing wrong with these sites per se, they’re just very exposed. You’re visible to people coming and going on the water, people coming and going on the Wright Lake portage … basically, if someone is coming or going in the area they’re going to see you.

Notes: In general, these sites are all perfectly serviceable sites. The biggest knock against them is that you’re not going to have much privacy. That said, as they are directly beside one of the water taxi stops, they are great options if you want to camp about 15 KM from the access point without having to paddle or portage. If you’re a big group  that needs more than one permit, this would be a good stretch to keep in mind.  

Related Trip Report: Opeongo Base Camp

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