Top Ten Camps in North America
Call it Ground Zero for the privacy-seeking northland paddler. Along Philip Edward's south shoreline of wind-warped pines and granite cliffs, this cove offers both respite from Georgian Bay breezes and instant access to the Fox Archipelago, part of an offshore Crown Land parcel that stretches from Lake Huron's McGregor Bay south to Parry Sound.
Paddle a few strokes to begin exploring the coves and coasts of the archipelago. As your lats begin to falter, pull ashore on any sizable island and climb up for across-the-bay views of the quartzite La Cloche Mountains. And while you won't be reeling in any trophy lake trout thanks to years of excessive recreational fishing, these waters do yield five-pound walleye, bass, and pike. You can rent a sea kayak ($23 to $56 per day) or arrange a guided paddling tour ($45 to $730 for one to four days) from Killarney Mountain Lodge and Outfitters (800-461-1117; www.killarney.com) in the village of Killarney, on the mainland 11 miles from Philip Edward. Sailors head west of town to the well-protected North Channel, but you'll have to haul your own craft across the border, as no local outfitters rent sailboats.
From Toronto, it's a 285-mile drive to Philip Edward Island. Head north on Interprovincial Highway 400 and Canada 69, and then take Ontario 637 west until it enters Killarney, ending conveniently at the put-in. (Be sure to stop by Killarney Mountain Outfitters to pick up charts before you set out; the site is tough to pinpoint without them.) You'll paddle east among countless islands before reaching, about seven hours later, the northeast side of the large, unnamed isle just east of Lowe Island. Now head north across the 40-yard channel and round the point to find a nicely protected cove with a flat stretch of granite for your tent. You'll know you're in the right spot if you look northwest and see West Desjardin Bay stretching inland.
Next Time Try
Alice Lake, Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho
The granite face of El Capitan—no, not that El Cap—looms to the northeast; above your spot on Alice's southeastern shore are the jagged peaks for which the wilderness is named.
Location: 45 miles north of Ketchum
Details: three sites; no fees
Prime Time: early September to early October
Forked Lake Campground, Adirondack Park, New York
In just 300 paddle strokes you've got your very own Adirondack isle, skirted by rocky, cedar- and pine-shaded lakeshore and miles of cold, clear swimming and canoeing.
Location: 135 miles northwest of Albany
Details: $10 per night
Prime Time: June to early September
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication