Ralph Bice Lake – Site 16

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Map courtesy of Jeff’s Maps

Closest Access Point: Magnetewan (Access Point 29)
Distance To Access Point:  3.5 KM (1 hour)
Difficulty of Travel From Access Point: Easy (Super easy).
Maintenance Level: Regular
Date of Visit: July, 2018

This is a perfectly serviceable site with lots of room to spread out and decent views. It’s not exactly what I’m looking for in a campsite, but it would be good enough if you were looking to bring small kids a little bit into the Park, but still want to be close to the access point and have room for them to run around without tripping over you/each other/the tent.

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Coming down to the canoe landing

Terrain: There’s a bit of a hill (maybe 10 feet up) from the canoe landing to the wide, flat area that serves as the fire pit and tent area. The terrain right up at the water is rocky, transforming to dirt and grass as you make your way up the hill. The flat part up top is primarily grass covered with an empty bare patch of dirt where the fire pit can be found. Tree cover over the fire pit/tent area is mostly non-existent. You’ve got a clear view of the sky and the sky has a clear view of you (MLB is always watching). Trees in the area are a mix of hard and softwood.

Canoe Landing: There are two landing spots. The first, and most obvious, is a rock area on a very slight slope that you can easily pull the canoe up to sideways or, if you’re not worried about scratching the bottom, just ram it on up the shore. There were a couple of underwater rocks to watch out for on the approach, but no significant impediments. The second landing is a small harbour area just east of the first landing. It’s also got a couple of underwater rocks, and the water was very shallow when we were there, but it makes for a cool spot to pull up.

Fire Pit: The fire pit is nothing to write home about. It’s a low circle of rocks in the middle of the clearing. There was a circular grill balanced on top of the rocks, so you could use it for cooking without too much repair effort. The pit walls wouldn’t do much to protect against a strong wind though.

Swimmability: Swimmable. Actually, very swimmable. There’s a long, underwater sandy beach stretching away to the west that’s great for wading along. Directly in front of the site it’s a bit rockier, but still plenty of sand to cushion the walk out to deeper waters. There’s a nice rock ledge right beside the water that gets good sun and makes for a nice place to watch the water. Only slight downside is that apparently this beach is also listed in A Leech’s Algonquin Travel Guide, because there were a bunch of them swimming around when I was out there.

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A couple of potential tent spots

Tent Sites: Lots of flat space to pitch tents. You could fit three or four two or three person tents, or a couple of larger ones depending on who you’re travelling with. The only thing I had trouble with was finding a good spot to string my tarp. There are some spots along the edge of the clearing, but, if you’re like me, and want to put a tarp over your tent because you’ve developed a deep distrust of that tent’s ability to keep you dry in a storm, then you’re going to have to get creative.

Accessories: Not much. There aren’t even really any log benches around the fire pit. As far as I could tell the only accessories were that rusted grill I mentioned earlier and a random pan that someone had left on top of that grill. Oh, also a really poorly constructed table comprised of a piece of old plywood nailed onto a small stump. It wasn’t great as a table, but worked wonders as a tarp rope anchor.

Thunderbox: The Thunderbox was fine. Nothing spectacular, nothing terrible. You’re well hidden in the woods, but apart from that I don’t remember there being anything unusual about it. So, until further notice, assume it’s there and assume it’s in about as good of shape as you can expect on a site on one of the most accessible and most popular lakes in the Park.

Views: There is only one open window down to the water. This gives you a view west and south across Ralph Bice. The tree coverage along the shoreline otherwise is dense enough that you can’t see much to the east unless you’re right down at the water’s edge. Even then the shape of land cuts off a lot of the lake from view. That being said, if you are sitting down the by  water you get a pretty nice (indirect) sunset view across the bay.

Notes: Nothing much to add. This was probably my least favourite site that we stayed on on this particular trip, but it was still decent enough. It was also my buddies’ favourite site, so clearly it’s not bad, just not necessarily to my taste.

Related Trip Report: Four Days in July: Part Three – The Road Well Traveled
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