Day 1: Grand/Stratton After a drive and shuttle set up, you will most likely not have much time to paddle into your site. Your choice is to camp on the large Grand lake or paddle over to a short 50m portage into Stratton. The choice is yours, and it may depend on your group size, and age. I have done this trip twice with kids 18 month to 4 years and for the sake of naps, we opted for Grand Lake.
Day 2: Grand to Stratton Lake (2-3 hours) Stratton lake offers some incredibly spacious campsites with rocky outcroppings and sandy beach sections. The lake itself is long and narrow, and is jam-packed with sites. Not all sites are picture perfect but if you get there early you will be granted some amazing camping. Swimming at Stratton Lake is not ideal as the lake is fairly shallow and muddy. Instead, a short paddle into a back bay and a 5minute hike will lead you to one of the gems of Algonquin Park: High Falls. High Falls is a natural waterslide perfect for sliding and swimming. It is a great spot to spend an afternoon or go for a quick evening dip. In addition to the slide itself, there is a circular whirlpool area that people can sit it and soak.
The next paddling section of the trip is awe-inspiring. The Barron Canyon walls are simply outstanding scenery and will amaze any paddler. With light current you can float down the canyon without paddling and take many photos along the way. Look up to your left and you may see a hiker at a lookout point, and check out the cliffs both from the base and from across the river. Simply breathtaking.
Exiting the canyon, you will see many campsites on both shores and travel through a wildlife filled marsh before arriving at the final portage of the trip. We have stopped for lunch twice at the beginning of this 420m portage and had excellent luck fishing at this spot. The last portage is straight forward and a short 15 minute paddle and you are at the Squirrel Rapids take-out. The take-out has a picnic table, gravel beach area and outhouse that is great for kids to hang-out/nap while waiting for the shuttle.
Alternative Routes for 1 or 2 night trips: If time was an issue and you were only travelling as adults there are two options that you could do in this area. First, you could paddle into Stratton Day 1 and visit High Falls, and on Day 2 exit near Brigham Lake or camp on the Barron River, exiting at Squirrel Rapids. A second option might be to put in at Brigham Lake, paddle through the canyon and camp, and take out at Squirrel Rapids. Finally if you couldn't set up a shuttle, you could put in at Squirrel Rapids, paddle up into the canyon, and backtrack out or paddle and camp at Stratton Lake and backtrack out.
A great trip for families!