Closest Access Point: Achray (Access #22)
Distance To Access Point: KM (1 -1.25 hours)
Difficulty of Travel From Access Point: Easy Peezy
Date of Visit: Mid-May, 2018
I’ve paddled past this site quite a few times, and always found it to be occupied. There’s a good reason for this, it’s a pretty nice site. It’s also the only site on the eastern shore of Stratton, and sits right beside the entrance to the St. Andrew’s lake portage, so it’s pretty hard to ignore as an option as you’re both coming across Stratton from Grand and coming back into Stratton from St. Andrew’s. If, however, you’re lucky enough to find this site empty, I highly recommend snapping it up. If you don’t, I will.
Terrain: This is a relatively flat site. There’s a very (very) minor slope from the water up to the site proper, but that’s about it. The firepit is on a different level from the tent spots, but it’s basically the same as having a sunken family room in your house. One step and you’re back on flat, even ground. If you’re reading this and worrying that this site isn’t going to scratch your climbing up rocks itch, the good news is that behind the site (on the St. Andrew’s portage facing side) there are some rocks that you can 100% climb up if you feel like it. Apart from that though, it’s super flat (so flat that there’s a little swamp very close to the Thunderbox. More on that in the Thunderbox section).
Canoe Landing: Excellent. The site is fronted by a gradually dropping off beach. The shoreline is rocky, but there are breaks in the rocks where the beach reaches up on to land. If you can’t land your canoe easilty at one of these spots then you probably should be rethinking the whole canoeing thing.
Fire Pit: Pretty decent. It might not win awards for presentation, it just looks like a collection of rocks piled on top of each other, but it’s a sturdy collection of rocks piled on top of each other. Also, rocks piled on top of each other is basically all a fire pit is, so this particular collection of rocks piled on top of each other is definitely living its best life. The pit is big enough to prop a grill over (there are a few that come with the site, each scoring somewhere in the 2-3 range on the patented “I’m not putting something that’s going in my stomach on that thing” scale) and it’s situated on the site so that you can watch the fire in the sky from the sunset while you’re watching the more real fire in fire pit.
Tent Sites: There’s an L shaped space just up from the canoe landing and beside the fire pit that’s good for a couple of tents. The ground is pretty flat and, depending on where you set up, there’s a nice windbreak from some nearby rocks (this is a good thing, since the site takes the brunt of any eastward blowing wind head on). There’s one more spot just past the small beach we’re going to talk about in the next section that would do for a tent in a pinch. It’s nowhere near as good as the other area, but at least it’s flat and open.
Swimability: Great for swimming. As I mentioned earlier, the underwater terrain is basically sand and more sand. You can wade out for a bit or, if it’s less than a week after ice out and you don’t want to have a heart attack, you can just dunk yourself a couple of steps offshore. There are two small beach entrances right beside the site and a third, larger beach just down a small path to the north. It seems like an area where there could be lily pads, but that wasn’t a problem at all while we were there.
Thunderbox: The thunderbox is a short walk away from the site. It’s got lots of privacy and was, when I was there, in pretty good shape. I’m guessing this site gets used a lot during the summer, so I don’t know how excited I’d be to be sitting on this thing come September, but in mid-May it’s nice enough. It is near a low lying area that was, when I was there, pretty swampy. It was too early in the season for bugs, but I have to imagine it’d be a pretty miserable place to answer nature’s call come June.
Accessories: Beyond a wide flat rock on top of some less wide other rocks that works as a decent little table, not much. The log bench was pretty basic and I don’t recall any campsite “improvements” beyond that.
Views: Spectacular sunset view from pretty much everywhere on the site. There isn’t much tree cover along the Stratton shoreline which means you’ve got an unobstructed view all the way down Stratton. This also means that if the wind is blowing towards the site, it’s got the entire length of Stratton to build up, but I’ll take that trade off for sunsets like the one I got the night I stayed here.
Notes: There are three downsides to this site that I can see. First, as I mentioned earlier, it’s extremely visible and on a very popular, easily acessible lake. Odds are it’s going to be used heavily throughout the season so my guess is that it could get pretty rundown by the end of the summer. Second, it’s a low lying site with a swampy river directly behind it and some soggy parts close by. It’s probably terrible during bug season. But, that’s what bug shelters are for. Third, you’re going to have visitors paddling by pretty frequently. The site guards the entrance to the short stretch of river that leads to the St. Andrew’s portage. Anyone who wants to get deeper into the park is going to have to paddle past you, both coming and going (unless they loop down through Clover, and only a crazy person would do that).
Related Trip Report:
Tarn Lake and a Whole Lot of Walking
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