I visited this site in September, 2017. The closest access point to Stratton Lake is the Achray access point, through the Sand Lake Gate. The site is about an hour’s paddle from the access point, so easily reachable in a day, or even a late summer evening. It was what felt like the first weekend of real summer we had all year and this was the absolute perfect site to enjoy some hot sunny days and cool early fall nights on. This site’s got a bit of everything: good views, good tent spots, a nice flat surface on which to play Animalopoly … it’s definitely worth a visit.
Canoe Landing/Terrain: This is a really easy site to access and get around on. The site is on a small peninsula at the eastern end of Stratton. It’s very nicely situated across from the entry to the St. Andrew’s portage and right where you’d round the corner to head up to the High Falls waterslide. There are two spots to land your canoe. The first is a small sandy slip on the north side of the site. It’s the first one you’ll see coming from Grand Lake and it’s just big enough for one canoe. You can load and unload here without too much difficulty, but if you keep paddling around the short, sandy point, you’ll find a small beach facing north down the lake towards High Falls. There’s more space here to load/unload. The terrain is pretty flat, aside from a very, very slight rise from the canoe slips to the site proper.
Tent Sites: Lots of room to pitch tents, hang hammocks, build crude shelters out of ferns and moose droppings etc. I counted at least four decently level pads and another couple of spots that would do if you’re building a tent city. If you’re a hammock tenter the site is dotted with tall toothpick pines that are just begging you to string a tent between them. So, uh, yeah, you’ll be fine.
Fire Pit: Good enough. I’ve seen more elaborate set ups, but this one certainly does the trick. We had a tough time keeping the fire going our first night, but that was more a function of not having done a very good job of finding burnable wood and also not paying attention because we were way to into Animalopoly. Can’t blame the fire pit for Animalopoly.
Accessories: The fire pit is ringed by three log benches, at least one of which is a decently flat surface you can use for meal prep. There’s also a belly button high counter made of old planks nearby, along with a short pair of log poles tacked between two trees like a really budget set of uneven bars. There’s a grill attached to these poles that rates a 2/5 on the “I wouldn’t put something that’s going in my stomach on that thing” scale.
Swimability: Not that swimmable? There’s a couple of things I didn’t love as far as swimming goes. First, there’s a decent crop of lily pads in front of the small beach. I hate swimming through lily pads. I also hate swimming through lava flows, but that’s less a concern as far as this site goes. Secondly, I saw a swimming garter snake nearby. I subscribe to the theory that where there’s one swimming garter snake there’s probably 7 million and they’re all going to try and hitch a ride if you swim nearby. So, lily pads + 7 million snakes = not super swimmable.
Thunderbox: For what is probably a pretty high traffic site, this was actually in decent shape. It’s a short walk back through the woods to the box. The ground around it was kinda gross thanks to some toilet paper piles that had inexplicably migrated out of the box (or maybe never made it in?). There isn’t a ton of nearby vegetation, so if someone were to be strolling between the sites and happen to walk out to the point, you’d be able to have a nice face to face conversation from a pretty fair distance.
Views: Really nice. from the point you can see back down Stratton towards Grand, across the lake towards the St. Andrew’s portage and north up Stratton towards the High Falls area. The site itself has a decent amount of shoreline tree cover, so it’s an obstructed view further in, but never enough that you feel hemmed in. At night you can look up up the shoreline towards High Falls and see the orange of other people’s campfires, which I guess is both a positive and a negative depending on how much of a sense of isolation you want. I found it to be a nice addition.
Drawbacks: As mentioned above, the swimming here ins’t the most inviting. However, with High Falls so close, that’s not a big deal. This is also a pretty high traffic area, so finding wood for your fire will likely mean a bit of shoreline exploring.
Bonus: Probably the biggest thing this spot has going for it isn’t even a feature of the site itself. It’s pretty much perfectly located on Stratton to give you easy access to the High Falls waterslide area and the St. Andrew’s portage that takes you, eventually, on to the Barron Canyon. You can use this as a jumping off place for day trips to and from the Canyon, or as a place to relax with the kids and visit the waterslides. Or both.
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