Sylvania Wilderness Canoe Trip, 2010

The Sylvania Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest is in the far western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is a 370 mile drive from Evanston. Unlike the Boundary Waters Canoe Area further up in Minnesota, you can enjoy a beautiful wilderness experience without being very far from civilization. We base camped for four nights on Clark Lake which is the main entrance for non-motorized boats. One day we paddled over to Deer Island Lake which required four short portages round trip (all less than 100 rods). This year the weather was near perfect except for a few hours of rain late in the day on the day before we paddled out. The first three days were sunny with plenty of wind to keep the bugs away. Campgrounds on Clark Lake are far apart, and have only two campsites with a limit of six people per campsite. So it’s pretty quiet except for the occasional call of the loons. Although it is rare to encounter bears, the ranger said that bears had been seen recently in the area.

Click on the images below to open a larger image, and use your browser’s back button to return.

Loading canoes at the boat ramp on Clark Lake

  • Loading Canoes at Beginning of Trip
  • Camping Gear on the Boat Ramp
  • Yvonne at Clark Lake Ramp
  • We brought a lot of stuff for a four day trip!
  • Fortunately there were no portages on the thirty minute paddle to our camp on Clark Lake.
  • Yvonne with our loaded canoes at the Clark Lake ramp.

Our campsite on Clark Lake

  • Campsite with Four Campers
  • Our Campsite
  • Duluth Pack Hanging
  • Our campsite was high enough to have a good view of the lake and a nice breeze most of the time.
  • Campsites are scattered along the lakeshore, and are typically at least a quarter mile apart.
  • Our Duluth Pack was out of reach of the bears.
  • Our Wilderness Camp
  • George and Yvonne at Table
  • Heidi in Her Chair
  • Our wilderness camp
  • George and Yvonne cooking French Toast. We used a whole loaf of bread for four people!
  • Heidi enjoying a comfortable chair and a nice view
  • George Cooking Popcorn
  • Yvonne at Table
  • Cooking under the tarp while it was raining
  • George cooking popcorn
  • Yvonne at our kitchen table
  • During the rain, we enjoyed a meal that George discovered during a trip to the Rotary office in Tokyo: Okonomiyaki with an onion, red pepper, and mixed vegetables.
  • Barry on the Beach
  • Heidi Floating
  • On the Beach at Our Campsite
  • Barry enjoying our beach at camp
  • Heidi enjoying the water
    at our camp beach
  • Sitting on our own beach at camp was very relaxing.

Day trips

  • George Carrying Canoe on Beach
  • Lunch Stop on Deer Island Lake
  • Beach Day
  • George beginning the portage from Clark Lake to Loon Lake
  • Lunch stop on Deer Island Lake
  • On our beach day, we just paddled over to a large sandy beach on Clark Lake.


  • Rainbow with Red Canoe
  • Rainbow with George and Yvonne
  • Leaving Camp
  • Thanks to Heidi for discovering the rainbow!
  • George and Yvonne with the rainbow
  • We packed both canoes for the return trip to the boat ramp at the end of the four days.