Lake Route 5: Lake Rossignol
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lt is recommended that users approach all canoe routes, portages and campsites in a safe and responsible manner. Conditions can change through fluctuating water levels, natural debris, and logging activity. Arrangements must be made directly with the owners of the portages and campsites.
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|Located In||South Shore Region|
|Where To Find Us||
|Areas Served||Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)|
|Contact||Chad Haughn, President, LQRCDA|
Description & Services
|Information||LAKE ROSSIGNOL LAKE ROUTE 5
This huge remote lake, the largest in Nova Scotia, has a real wilderness feel to it but also lots of rock piles and dead stumps created when it was dammed in 1929.
Where: Near Caledonia
Skill Level: Intermediate/Expert (Can be dangerous)
Time: Day or multiday
Distance: 15 km long, 20 km wide
Note: Due to the size of this lake, it is recommended that you use the 1:50,000 scale
maps for extended trips.
Lake Rossignol was once about half its present size but still slightly bigger than Kejimjujik Lake. It was part of a water trail that went from Kejimkujik Lake all the way to Liverpool. It must have been a beautiful place. In 1928, a dam was built by the Mersey Paper Company in Liverpool to supply water to six power stations on the Mersey River. The water flooded back creating one big lake out of ten.
Today the lake is a wild, strange place of contrasts. The shoreline is littered with dry uprooted stumps leftover from the flooding. Many of the coves are boulder-filled and impassable and dead polelike trees stick out of the water. The lake is a land mine of rock piles, likely remains of the old shorelines. The higher ground would have become islands. It is not a pretty site when the water level is low.
What makes this an appealing place is the vastness and remoteness of the lake, qualities that are getting harder and harder to find in this province. At Low Landing, you can see for miles down the lake. The shoreline is completely wooded and there is no sign of human habitation except for a couple of cottages at the landing. The lake still has a few natural looking areas where you can find a sandy beach or explore a little island. The loons call back and forth at night and you may see larger mammals such as deer and black bear. The flooding creates good habitat for cranberries that can be harvested in October. Mature stands of pine and hardwood create a lovely sight in the fall.
This lake is not advisable for beginners for reasons listed below. As well, paddlers should have considerable camping and first aid skills because of the remoteness of this area.
Water Safety Notes - This can be a dangerous lake. See lake notes.
Winds - Due to the size of the lake, winds can become quite strong and you may get windbound for a day or two. Add extra time when planning your trip.
Swells - This is a shallow lake. As a result, large swells can appear very quickly (in minutes) when the wind comes up. This is especially dangerous in this lake because of the numerous rock piles above and below water. As well, landing can be difficult or impossible in the boulder-filled coves with a swell. Be proficient at handling a boat in swells as you may have to stay in it.
Water level - The water level can vary considerably due to seasonal conditions and release at the dam. A low water level will reveal more rocks and mean more carrying. Higher water levels are more likely in spring or fall and this may be a more attractive time to travel here.
Fog - Again due to the size of the lake, morning fog can be thick but fun to paddle in if you can use a compass. It usually burns off by noon.
Points of Interest
1 Mouth of the Shelburne River - This wilderness river empties into Lake Rossignol on the west side. The entrance can be challenging to find. An old green boat house on the north bank is all that remains of a tuna boat owned by the writer Zane Gray. It was moved here by others as a camp.
Low Landing (See below). Look for traditionally used campsites in the woods near stone or sand beaches where landing is possible around the lake . Under the large pines is often a good place to camp.
Access Point One - Low Landing
From Caledonia, travel toward West Caledonia about 5km. Turn left onto the Devonshire Road. At the 10 km mark you will see a spring on your left, a good place to fill up. At 11 km, turn left to Low Landing (look for the sign). The access point is 2 km further down this road. This is a good site for parking and camping with a large level grassy area, an old foundation, an old well, and big oaks and maples. The carry is about 30 meters or more depending on the water level. Launching here can be tricky if the water is very low (slimy rocks and boot eating mud). An alternate if you have a truck is to
continue out to the point where water access is via a small beach.
Access Point Two - Mersey (Kedge) River Bridge
Same as above but at the 11 km mark continue straight about 4 km to a bridge at the Mersey River (also known as Kedge River). A gate across the bridge restricts vehicle access to the private roads of Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited. This is also a traditionally used spot for camping with lots of parking. Put in above or below the bridge river left. Scout first to make sure there’s enough water. From here it’s about 3 km to Lake Rossignol with some rapids in the first half km.
Access Point Three - Dam One at Ponhook Indian Reservation (Indian Gardens)
Turn off Route 8 at Pleasantfield and go about 10 km through the Mi’kmaq community of Indian Gardens to the first dam on the Mersey. Or travel up the River Road from Milton. At the dam are three roads. Take the road that leads in front of the dam to a gravel boat ramp.
This big lake at the south end of Lake Rossignol has good camping. It can be accessed via a short portage into Coade Lake. The portage is close to an old boat that apparently was used by a Halifax doctor for sportfishing. Coade Lake is visible from Lake Rossignol. From here, it’s another portage into Sixth Lake (about 300 m) up a trail that is now overgrown and almost impassable. From Sixth Lake, you can paddle up an enchanting stream and man-made log driving canal into the East Bay of Jordan Lake.
1 Christopher Lakes - Lake Route 3
2 The Mersey River One - River Route 5
The Mersey River (this section is also known as Kedge River) If you put in at A1, paddle up this river toward Kejimkujik National Park to an old eel weir if the river is deep enough. Look for animal tracks along the banks in the sand.
3 The Mersey River Two - River Route 5
A multi-day trip for experienced paddlers and campers would be to paddle across Lake Rossignol and down the Mersey River to Liverpool. This involves six long portages around the dams so bring a strong friend.
4 The Shelburne River - River Route 8
If you can find the mouth of the Shelburne, you can paddle up river about 3.5 km through a wide open marshland to a ranger cabin on the left bank called Pollards Falls Ranger Camp now operated by the Department of Natural Resources. On the road behind the cabin is an old growth stand of hemlock.
For multi-route trips that include this route, see Lake Notes.
Topographic map - Lake Rossignol 21 A/3 and Kejimkujik 21 A/6
|Eligibility||Ages: 16 year(s) and up
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level
|Tags||Canoe/Kayak ; Maps ; NS Trail Guide ; Recreation Categories ; South Shore Connect|