Scamping in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park

DSC05536Russ bought a 13-foot Scamp trailer about a year ago and we hadn’t had time to use it until now. Scamps are cute little lightweight campers made in Minnesota. Ours has all the comforts of home in a compact space. The only things missing are a bathroom and an oven.

I needed to travel overnight for a freelance magazine story assignment in Canada, so we decided it was the perfect opportunity for the Scamp’s maiden voyage.

On our way to the Dawson Trail Campground in Quetico Provincial Park, we left Duluth and drove across the border on the North Shore of Lake Superior with our two doggies. Note that to bring your dogs into Canada, you need to have a rabies vaccination certificate. The border agent didn’t ask us for our dogs’ certificates, but we had them along, just in case.

Just outside of Thunder Bay we turned north to Kakabeka Falls. Since the falls are close to the road and we’d never seen them, we decided to stop. At 131 feet, these falls are even higher than the ones on the Pigeon River on the border of Minnesota and Canada. They are truly spectacular and well worth pulling off the highway to see.


Kakabeka Falls

Then we were off to find the Trans-Canada Highway. This impressively maintained road looks totally out-of-place as it takes drivers past pine-lined undeveloped lakes, bogs, and beaver homes. Imagine the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with a freeway through it, and that’s what driving this stretch of Highway 11 is like.

There are not many services along the road in this part of the world. In fact, warning signs advise drivers to check their gas at certain points because if you run out, you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Counting a lunch stop and the waterfall stop, it took us about eight hours to arrive the campground. The campground is actually two campgrounds, a canoe launch, several log cabins, a visitor center, picnic grounds and a bunch of hiking trails.

We parked our Scamp in Ojibwa Campground, which features a small beach, electric hookups, and a bathroom building that offers free hot showers and a coin laundry (if you bring some loonies along). As we checked in, the ranger warned us of bear activity in the campground. The park had a cage trap out to catch it.


A log cabin for rent at the campground. Pretty sweet!

We stayed for three nights, discovering along the way that yes, you can fit two adults and two large dogs into a 13-foot Scamp.

After my writing work was done on our last day, we took a hike to The Pines, which is a picturesque beach lined with a stand of red pines. After being spoiled by hiking among giant hemlocks in the Apostle Islands last fall, we were a bit disappointed by this hike. From the descriptions, we expected giant pines to line the trail, not only the endpoint. And the pines weren’t all that old. But don’t let our expectations stop you from exploring the area – we are just nature snobs, I guess.

Our doggies loved the beach, however. Buddy the Wonderdog ran in crazy circles, he was so excited to have reached this sandy destination. Russ’s dog Bea waded into the water and drank her fill from Pickerel Lake.


The Pines at the end of The Pines trail.

During our hike back to the campground, a drizzle started to fall. We slogged along for several hours and were super happy to have a dry and cozy Scamp to climb into at the end of it. With my only pair of jeans sopping wet, I took advantage of the dryer at the bathroom and was soon able to climb under a blanket in dryer-warmed pants. This truly felt like a magnificent luxury in the wilderness.

While I was gone on this task, Russ said he saw the campground bear being driven away, trapped in the cage.

Our route back home took us farther west along the highway to Fort Frances and International Falls, where we crossed the border back into America again. Once we crossed the border, the dogs, still worn out by the hike the previous day, perked up. Russ and I joked that it was like they could smell America.

If you’re thinking of upgrading from tent camping to a Scamp, I would say, do it! We are looking forward to our next Scamping adventure. I wonder where it will take us?


The beach at Ojibwa Campground and canoe landing.

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