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Located in Ontario's Nipissing District, Trout Lake has everything to offer the northwoods adventurer looking for water-based activities. Often overshadowed by its larger sister Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake offers all of the fishing, frolic and fun that the bigger lake does, just on a bit smaller and less crowded scale. Lake Nipissing guards the City of North Bay's front door, while Trout Lake graces the back yard. This smaller lake provides the water supply for North Bay, and over 600 cottages and year-round homes enjoy its 32-mile shoreline. To make sure the lake is accessible to both local residents and visitors, the City of North Bay provides two swimming beaches with lifeguards on the west end of the lake at the edge of town. Trout Lake is popular for sailing and waterskiing and hosts many visitors on warm weekends. Several public access points are provided for small boat launching around the lake.
Crowned with 25 small islands, Trout lake is almost two lakes in one. Two connected lake basins nearly separated by a peninsula of land offer a long shoreline and somewhat different hydrology. Together the lake basins form the headwaters of the Mattawa River which flows into the Ottawa River and eventually the Saint Lawrence River. Trout Lake was a vital part of the old voyageur fur-trade waterway long before the Saint Lawrence Seaway became world-famous as a travel route. Once those traveling by canoe made it past the infamous Narrows near the head to the Mattawa River and traveled the seven-mile length of Trout Lake, it was a short four miles overland across what is now North Bay to large Lake Nipissing. Because this was a critical waterway for fur trappers and explorers, North Bay was a natural portage place along the Ontario water trail. It wasn't until later that North Bay became the center of outdoor recreation for which it is known today.
Trout Lake provides an air base for float planes on Delaney Bay on the north side. The air base is popular among those who use North Bay as a starting point for fly-in fishing and hunting trips farther north in the many remote areas without road access. Nearby a marina provides boat launch facilities, bait and tackle and rents pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats with motors, paddle boats, canoes and kayaks. There is a camping area located near the marina with shops selling snacks and souvenirs. Some well-known eateries are located along the lakeshore.
Trout Lake is considerably deeper than Lake Nipissing and offers an excellent cold water fishery with bragging rights to lake trout and whitefish. Northern pike, yellow pickerel, muskellunge and smallmouth bass are also caught. In the past, landlocked Atlantic salmon were planted in the lake and thrived for many years, using Four-Mile Creek for spawning. A major toxin spill from a train derailment upstream dumped an excess of zinc into the creek, destroying the spawning ground. After this occurred over 40 years ago, the salmon became scarce because there was no other inflowing stream suitable for spawning. A recent, more concerted effort at cleaning up the spill has improved the creek's water, and salmon have again been introduced and appear to be reproducing once more. Ice fishing is also popular on the lake, and snowmobiles use it as a long stretch of open snow in winter.
A number of private lakefront owners rent their cottages to vacationers year-round. North Bay and Trout Lake are considered one of Ontario's premier snowmobiling hot-spots. Several hundred miles of snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing trails crisscross the area. The local snowmobile club grooms the trails and sells the required Province of Ontario permit to use them. Laurentian Ski Hill on Janey Avenue has a 310-foot vertical drop, a state-of-the-art quad chair lift, and snow making provisions. Facilities include ski, snowboard, terrain park and ski patrol.
In warmer weather the area's trails are often used for bird watching, wildlife viewing, and hiking. Some of the trails in and around North Bay are suitable for mountain bikes and roller blades. The Laurier Woods Preserve offers 200 acres of marsh and woods with miles of trails. When added to the boating, fishing, and sailing activities going on at Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake becomes a very attractive location for a vacation both summer and winter. Three-and-a-half hours from either Toronto or Ottawa, Trout Lake can be reached by road in an afternoon.
Trout Lake is considerably deeper than nearby Lake Nipissing: the main basin reaches depths of 226 feet and 3384 surface acres. The other basin is called Four Mile Bay, with another 756 acres reaching depths of 112 feet. Extensive water testing was performed in the 1980s to assure water quality continued to meet standards for drinking water. The lake passed with flying colors, and local officials are committed to making sure it stays that way. There will likely be little additional development allowed along the shoreline. Water quality continues to be monitored. Having a cottage or home on Trout Lake is bound to become more difficult for those wishing to build. A few existing homes can usually be found for sale, and weekly lodgings along the shore or on islands can be reserved. The City of North Bay has a number of motels and hotels that offer rooms or efficiencies for the snowmobile crowd and often provide longer-term parking for snowmobile trailers.
As with most large, deep lakes, rumors of a 'lake monster' have emerged over the years. The disappearance in 1956 of a couple, their dog and their boat from their cottage along the lake led to speculation of the lake monster having caused their disappearance. A full 50 years later, sonar soundings located the boat and the bodies of the couple preserved in the deep, cold waters of the lake. The mystery was apparently solved: no lake monster, just a simple tragic boating accident. Still, the rumored lake monster is fun to talk about around the summer campfire, feeding the fantasies of youngsters and the young at heart. So, if planning a visit to Trout Lake, come prepared for all of your favorite water sports and outdoor activities, including binoculars to watch for lake monsters! Nearby North Bay offers all of the necessary amenities including theaters, shopping and golf courses. Winter or summer, Trout Lake has everything you desire in a northwoods get-away.
*Statistics listed are for the combined basins of the lake.
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