Pen Lake – Site 12

Closest Access Point:  Rock Lake (Access Point #9 )
Distance To Access Point:  11 KM (2-2.5 hours)
Difficulty of Travel From Access Point: Easy
Maintenance Level: Regular
Date of Visit: September, 2019

This is a pretty decent site, provided you don’t mind sleeping on a bit of a slant. It’s built into the side of a hill, and while that gives you a nice elevated view north on Pen, it also gives you a nice elevated heart rate each time you climb up from the water.

Terrain: Hilly. The site goes pretty much straight up from the water. The first twenty feet up or so is a combination of dirt and large boulders. Once you’re up on the fire pit level, everything above that is mostly slanted dirt and pine needles. You can climb up from the water by going up a fairly steep six foot rock wall, or you can walk around to a slightly less steep path on the north side of the site. Either way, you’re going to get a leg workout here.

Canoe Landing: The shoreline is lined by large rocks, so it’s not the best spot to pull up. That being said, we did find a decent little rocky beach area to wedge the bow of the canoe beside a nice, flat rock for loading and unloading. The underwater approach is fine, we didn’t run across (or into) any hidden obstacles or swamp monsters.

Fire Pit: The fire pit is on the only truly flat part of the site, about 20 feet back from the water and 30 feet above it. It’s got a nice view of the lake and is surrounded by pine trees. This is important, as the pine tree trunks make a great network to support a tarp over the pit, while not obstructing the view out to the lake very much. The pit itself is large and well built and ideal for drying out (and sometimes burning) wet shoes.

Three little tents, set up on a hill.

Tent Sites: We set up three tents. I wouldn’t say that means there are three tent sites, but you can do it. Only one of the spots would be what I consider to be flat. The other two definitely unflat, but that’s not much of a problem as long as you don’t mind sleeping on a slant.

Swimability: I didn’t swim here, but it seemed like a solid B on the swimmable scale. There were a couple of places where the rocks would work to slip in from, but the underwater terrain would be pretty uneven, so you’d probably want to be wearing some kind of water shoe if you plan on wading out at all. Lots of great western exposure for afternoon sun. Assuming that sun isn’t hidden behind a thick, angry blanket of clouds.

Thunderbox: Surprisingly tough to find! Although I think that says more about us than it does the thunderbox location. I was convinced it would be at the  top of the hill, which was 100% incorrect. It’s actually just south of the site on the same level as the topmost tent pad. There’s a path leading to it that we somehow overlooked in our initial search. The box itself is in good shape and doesn’t seem likely to collapse any time soon.

Accessories: Someone has made a miniature paddle coat hook tribute to Gord Downey and attached that to one of the trees. Apart from that, there’s a decent flat stump for meal prep near the fire pit and a wedge of of beaten up but still serviceable log benches around the pit.

Views: Great northwest view from the fire pit. Views to the south from the site are partially obstructed by tree cover, but are really nice from close to the water.

Notes: I liked this site. I wouldn’t come here with a large group, but for three or four people it’s a nice spot. It’s especially handy if you’re planning on heading over to Welcome/Harry the next day as the site is directly across from that portage.

Related Trip Report: South of 60: A Rock Lake Loop
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