Autumn in the Bladebone Canoe Trip – Prince Albert National Park

Trip Overview  (Note: Bladebone southern area no longer accessible – this trip is no longer available. See explanatory NOTE in Itinerary below)

Canoeing in Prince Albert National Park

Canoeing in Prince Albert National Park  ©canoeski

We will visit a rarely-travelled portion of the Bladebone Canoe Route in Prince Albert National Park’s West Side. The southern end of the route consists of a chain of small scenic lakes connected by short portages. We’ll paddle across the first lake (Tatham) to access the Park, and then through the next three lakes (Nova, Birch and Axehandle lakes), camping on the last lake in the chain. We’ll return by the same route.

During the equinox period, the summertime hues of the boreal forest will be changing into autumn oranges and golds, bringing the lakeshore hills alive with color. The air is crisp and full of autumn smells and the mosquitoes are gone! It is a sensational time of year to be in the southern boreal forest with many sights, sounds and smells to stimulate your wilderness senses.

Our on-board ethnobotanist interpreter Anna Leighton will be educating us on what’s happening in the forest during fall time, what plants and berries are harvested by traditional peoples, how animals react to the changing season, and how the natural world prepares for winter. She will be discussing and using the resources that appear along our canoe route.

Trip Details
Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Scheduled Dates: This trip no longer available.
Geographic Area: Prince Albert National Park, Northern Saskatchewan, Canada
Nearest Communities: Big River
Paddling Venue: Small lakes
Adventure Rating: Novice – a modest degree of fitness and upper body conditioning will enhance your enjoyment of physical activities like canoeing and portaging
Minimum Age: 14
Paddling Distance: 15 km and 3 short portages to go in and same coming out: Total 30 km (18 mi.) and 6 portages
Accommodation: Wilderness camping in nylon tents
Price per Person: N/A

Booking Info


Day 1 involves early morning departure from the CanoeSki base in Saskatoon via passenger van, travelling north to Shellbrook and on towards Big River. The access to Tatham Lake and the Bladebone canoe route is via rough logging roads that are difficult to negotiate in wet conditions. Once on the lake it is a short paddle and a 500 m portage to reach Nova Lake and the Bladebone route proper. The portage out of Nova to Birch Lake is half the distance at 250 m. A short paddle across Birch Lake and a quick carry-over of 100 m takes us into Axehandle Lake where we set up camp for the night. A boreal forest hike combined with interpretive activities will likely occur after supper and socializing around the evening campfire sans bugs will round out the days activities.

Day 2, we pack up camp and head back to Tatham Lake via the previous day’s route, stopping en route for lunch and interpretive activities. Arrive at Tatham Lake take-out late afternoon, load gear and head back to Saskatoon, stopping for a supper break in Shellbrook. Arrive at the CanoeSki base later in the evening.

NOTE: The foregoing itinerary describes this Prince Albert National Park trip when the southwest access (outside the park) was still available via bush roads which were difficult in wet conditions, so the trip was dependent on extended dry fall weather. Since then the logging roads have been closed by gov’t/lumber companies, making it impossible to conduct the trip into the Bladebone backcountry. The northwest access via Bladebone Bay in Kingsmere Lake is an “in & out” canoe trip (no southern exit) consisting of multiple portages between small water bodies – not the kind of trek most weekend recreational paddlers are willing to take on. Although the National Park advertises this as one of a number of canoe routes in the park, they don’t include details on what all is involved!

Package Includes:

  • Canoeing and safety equipment
  • Nylon tents
  • Waterproof packs for personal items & clothing
  • Park entry & camping fees
  • Nutritious meals prepared over an open fire
  • Certified instructor/guide
  • Return transportation by passenger van from Saskatoon

Prices shown in Canadian Dollars; applicable taxes extra
Advance booking required, subject to availability

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or