December 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm #4702
There are no roads within the boundary of Woodland Caribou Prov. Park. There is, however, a network of old forest access roads in areas adjacent to the park that allows relatively easy access to the park at Leano, Onnie, Johnson and Lund Lakes. Small directional signs point you to your destination along the way and a parking area is found at each entry point.
The following information will be updated as needed and will prepare you if you plan on driving these back roads:
Hwy 502 – For our visitors traveling from the states and crossing at International Falls, please be aware that the Highway north from Fort Frances to Dryden is in full construction mode. Expect some delays.
Hwy 618 – At Red Lake’s traffic lights, turn left and travel westerly. The brick government building on the right hand side is where you can drop and visit our park staff at the Ontario Parks Office during regular business hours. We love visitors. Continue to drive west and you are now on Hwy 618. Be advised that construction is underway this summer along this stretch of Hwy all the way to your turn-off at Suffel Lk Rd.
Suffel / Iriam Rds– A green sign off Hwy 618 will point you to “Suffel Lake Rd” as you travel down a slight hill. This is the way to access Johnson, Onnie and Leano. The first 18km (11 miles) of the Suffel Rd is wide and semi-maintained. It is relatively well traveled and therefore quickly turns into a nasty washboard. Travel slowly. Hitting a rough patch can easily cause serious teeth shattering while your vehicle “dances” sideways and lands you in the ditch.
Once pass the Black Bear Lodge parking area, the road becomes a 1-lane bush road with plenty of turns, hills, and potholes to keep you alert. From here on out, there is no road maintenance. The adventure has begun. A smaller vehicle may be able to reach Johnson if needed by driving with care, negotiating the numerous potholes along this 5km stretch of road.
Somewhere pass the Johnson entry point the Suffel / Suffel Rd extension crosses an invisible line to become the Iriam Rd. You will cross a total of 9 low-level crossings before reaching the Mile 51 Rd, the turn off to the Leano entry. Low-level crossings are where culverts have been pulled out and the road surface designed to permit water to flow freely over the roadbed in high water conditions or after a rain. These work really well and discourage beavers from damming or plugging culverts. While you do not necessarily require a 4X4 vehicle on this section of the road, you do need generous bottom clearance to negotiate these crossings. Expect to take a little over a ½ hr to drive to Johnson and nearly 2 hrs to Leano from Hwy 618.
Leano Rd (=Mile 51 Rd)– This is your last 5km stretch to the parking area and first portage to Leano Lake. Leano Rd is a narrow 1-lane road with grass centre and many potholes to negotiate. Good News – The thick and encroaching alders that bordered this road has been cut back last fall. We should be looking at a clear passage for the next few years. Mile 51 is in good shape… passable but a slow drive. At this time of the season, we’ve spotted caribou, moose, and rather large bears in the area.
LongLegged Rd – The approach to Leano from Ear Falls via the Manitou Falls Dam Rd (Hwy 804) and Longlegged Rd is another option to reach Mile 51 Rd to Leano. However, it now receives very low maintenance and is not monitored as closely as we do the northern approach using the Suffel/Iriam Rd. Park signage may be missing – needs addressing. Two or 3 low-level crossings will be encountered as you near the Mile 51 Rd. If choosing this option, expect to travel at least 2 hrs on a gravel road before reaching Mile 51 and Leano. NOTE: Repairs on the blown culvert have been completed. Good to go!
South Pakwash Rd – For a number of years, those traveling from the west (Manitoba and Kenora) had the option of taking Hwy 658 from Kenora to Reddit then South Pakwash north all the way to Long Legged Rd to reach Mile 51 Rd and the Leano entry. In recent years, a large washout at Rogers Lk created a road block forcing travelers to take a detour east on the Conifer Rd. Hunters have since patched up the washout and gotten across but we do not monitor the conditions of this road system at all.
Nungesser / Pine Ridge / McIntosh Rds – These roads lead you to the Lund Lk entry point, in the north east half of the park, and the most direct access to the Bloodvein River. The Nungesser Rd is a well traveled hard-top surface road that begins at Hwy 125 between Balmertown and Cochenour. At approx. 13km (8miles), turn left onto the Pine Ridge Rd. For the next 25 km (12miles), the maintained gravel road is wide and generally in good shape but prone to washboard conditions. Drive accordingly. The last 25 km of the road is not maintained and much narrower with the occasional dips in the road surface.
The Pine Ridge Rd ends with a turn to the left onto McIntosh Rd. At this point you are 5 km (3miles) from the Lund entry. There always seem to be wildlife tracks in the sand along the road here. You will be required to cross a low level crossing with water running over the road however it is currently dry. The bottom is solid but the water over the road can sometimes be high. Again, a vehicle with generous bottom clearance is required. Expect to drive 1 ½ hrs from Hwy 125 to the Lund entry.
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