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Cedar Loop Showdown - Round 2

Which lake won Labour day 2023?

Welcome to round two of the Cedar Loop Showdown. I’d like to tell you that round one was full of upsets and surprises, but then I’d be lying to you. The voters went chalk, giving wins to each of the higher seeded lakes in the round.  The biggest surprise to me was that Shoal Lake, our 13th seed, got any votes at all.  Either there’s something about lily pad choked pseudo-ponds that I’m missing, or my fears that I was using too nice of a picture for Shoal were well founded.

Coming out of round one we have Radiant Lake, the Petawawa River, Cedar Lake, the Little Madawaska River and Catfish Lake, the 4-8 seeds in the bracket. Waiting for them with bated breath are our top three seeds, Hogan, Philips and Clamshell. Will the votes continue to go to the higher seeds, or will we see an upset in round two? I’ve got my eye on the Cedar/Clamshell matchup. Clamshell is a gem of a lake, but Cedar has name recognition. If there’s an upset in this round, I’d put my money on it coming from that pair.

Round two’s bracket is below, followed by a rundown of each matchup. Let’s go!

1. Hogan Lake


8. Catfish Lake

I said up above that I was watching Cedar/Clamshell for an upset, but I think there’s potential here as well. Catfish is a strong 8 seed. It’s got some beautiful sites, great views and (despite the picture I’m using here) is big, deep and clear. Even the mushy middle narrows that connects Catfish’s two larger basins is quite pretty (although I wouldn’t want to stay on the sites here). However, there’s a reason I’ve got Hogan at number one in these rankings. As far as I’m concerned, anything Catfish does Hogan does better. It’s got some gorgeous campsites, phenomenal views and lots (and lots) of space. Hogan is one of the bigger lakes in the Park, and I’m a sucker for big water. There’s history all over the lake as well, and a set of cliffs on the south shore you can climb for a great view. The only knock against Hogan is all that open space can be a huge problem if the wind is working against you. Like I said, everything is bigger on Hogan, including the headwinds.

2. Philips Lake


7. Little Madawaska River

A part of me thinks that Philips could win this whole thing. Another part of me thinks I’ve got Philips seeded way too high. It all comes down to how much one campsite is worth. There’s a spot on Philips that’s pretty special. It’s got a great beach, beautiful sunsets, a well set up site area and all the neighbouring geese you could ask for. It’s private. Coming from the east you can’t see it until you’re right on top of it. It’s more obvious from the west, but that just means you’ve got great views that direction. Other than that … well, Philips is kind of ordinary. The other three sites vary from average to just a tiny bit above average. It’s a a medium sized blob of a lake, with a fairly nondescript shoreline. It is, however, the former home to the Philips’ Depot Farm, and I’ve been told there are ruins in the area to be explored (I couldn’t find them myself). I don’t know. I’ve got great memories from my time on Philips, but I wonder how those would have changed if I’d had a different campsite? Regardless, I think Philips moves on this round. As I said in round one, I really enjoyed paddling the Little Madawaska, but I also think this is where it runs out of steam. It’s a pretty river, with some really cool features (like the cliffs I talked about in round one), but I don’t know if that’s enough to push it past Philips. We’ll have to wait and see!

3. Clamshell Lake


6. Cedar Lake

Clamshell is a gem. It’s a small lake, just north of Radiant. It’s along the North River and at first glance doesn’t seem like it would be much to look at. There’s one campsite and the lake immediately to its south, Shoal Lake, is exactly what you’d expect from a small lake along a middling river (weeds, weeds and more weeds). As a result, arriving at Clamshell is a nice surprise. You’re greeted with an open body of water and a nice view of a rocky outcrop on the far side of the lake that happens to be home to Clamshell’s only campsite. And a rope swing. Honestly, that rope swing alone is worth a top three seeding. The thing about Clamshell is that a long time ago it was the basin of a large waterfall. As a result, the lake is a staggering 210 feet deep directly in front of Clamshell’s campsite (which explains why I couldn’t touch bottom when I tested to make sure the rope swing was a good idea, I can only hold my breath up to 209 feet deep). On top of the rope swing, Clamshell has a few other things going for it. It’s got a great water feature in the form of some nearby rapids and a (much smaller than before) waterfall. The view from the campsite is very nice and you can walk along the shore a good distance if you feel like exploring. The only thing working against Clamshell is the lack of non-fire pit adjacent tent space (there are a couple of decent pads on the site, but both of them are within sparking distance of the fire pit). Other than that, it’s kind of perfect. 

Cedar is the opposite of Clamshell in pretty much every possible way. It’s enormous, it’s got tons of campsites. As far as I know, it doesn’t have any rope swings, but it does have a gorgeous waterfall emptying into it, and another beautiful set of rapids emptying out. You can start a trip in every direction from Cedar, or just basecamp along the shoreline and enjoy some day trips. The only real drawback is that a headwind on Cedar can make a headwind on Hogan seem tame.

4. Radiant Lake


5. Petawawa River

This is the only matchup with two winners from round one. Honestly, it feels kind of strange having Radiant and the Petawawa competing against each other. They’re both awesome and they’re very different experiences. Radiant is a large, shallow lake with multiple top tier campsites, tons of history and some of the best sunsets I’ve seen in the Park. It’s a great spot to set up shop for the weekend, and would be a place you could come back to again and again. The Petawawa, on the other hand, offers an ever changing array of sights, including waterfalls, rapids, historical markers and opportunities to run into some of the local wildlife around every corner.  I don’t know that I’d actually want to camp on the river for more than a night, but in terms of the paddle through experience? It’s hard to beat. (so let’s see if Radiant is up to the task!).

And now it’s time to vote. Will we have another round of top seed domination, or will one of our round one winners keep the streak alive? You can vote below and on my Instagram stories (if you’re not already following me on Instagram, you should be!)

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