Algonquin it ain’t – Charles Mill Lake canoe trip, part one


Perfect ending to a perfect day – sunset from my campsite in Bushman Bay at the southern end of Charles Mill Lake.

You’ll never mistake Charles Mill Lake for one of Algonquin Provincial Park’s pristine lakes. But I didn’t have to drive 10 hours to get there. As the crow flies, it’s 13 minutes from home.

As the crow walks, it’s considerably longer.

At any rate, it’s a fun lake to explore with a few surprisingly nice campsites tucked away in the shallows. For three days in April, I canoed and camped there, exploring the backwaters.

Charles Mill Lake is an impoundment of Black Fork of the Mohican River. When Charles Mill Dam was built in the 1930s, it created one big lake out of several, which were formerly known as the Mifflin Lakes and, before that, the Petersburg Lakes.

On the first day of the trip, I explored the back bays of what had been Mifflin Lake, Bell Lake and Mud Lake on the west side of Charles Mill.

I’ll let these photos tell the rest of the story.


Anglers try their luck on Mud Lake. As I paddled between the shore and the tree root, a mink swam by.



A disposable lighter among goose eggs I found on Mud Island. My explanation? A crow decided it would be fun to fuck with the geese. Some islands on Charles Mill Lake are suitable for camping. This isn’t one of them. It’s choked with multiflora rose and litter – and too close to SR 603.



Dwarfed! While I had stopped for lunch at Charles Mill Marina, the launching of the Queen Mary was in progress. That’s my Old Town Pack on the right.



After a day of exploring the west side of the lake, I found a quiet and scenic spot to camp in Bushman Bay.



A beam of sunlight shining through the clouds created an interesting effect on the water in the bay.



The only visible sign of civilization from my campsite — Charles Mill Dam.



A cistern? I explored the ruins near my campsite of what had been a farm. I also found a building foundation and what might have been a couple wells.



I bushwhacked through multiflora rose to get a view of the sunset on Charles Mill Lake. Fortunately, I found a deer path on the way back to my campsite, which made for easier – and less painful – going.

Next: Day two of my Charles Mill Lake canoe trip.