Monday, December 1, 2014

Algonquin Park

Some of my fondest childhood memories come from time spent camping with my dad in Algonquin Park. While only being a few hours’ drive from the Toronto area, there is just something enchanting about getting away from the urban sprawl to a place where the air is fresh, the water is clear and the outdoor recreation is endless. We would spend each 3 or 4 day getaway hiking the various interpretive hiking trails, cycling the daunting mountain bike routes and of course relaxing around a campfire under the stars at night. Years later I have rediscovered my love for Ontario’s most popular provincial park and try to make it there at least once a year for my dose of Canadian escapism.

Towering Pines 
A beautiful vista, one of the countless in the park
Transportation around the park is easy. The main road (Highway 60) runs right through the park from the West Gate to the East Gate, with visitor centers at each side. Pick up a park map on your way in as all of the trails, campgrounds and other points of interest are mapped based on kilometre marking from the West Gate. This section of the park is known as the ‘corridor’, whereas the less accessible ‘interior’ can only be accessed via portage routes and is recommended for more experienced and adventurous folk.

Whiskey Rapids 
As an avid runner and cyclist I am always looking for a cardio-based outdoor adventure. The hiking trails of Algonquin are unbeatable. Each one explores a different element of the park’s geography, eco-system and history from raging rapids to beaver dams, early 20th century logging camps to peaceful spruce bogs. The views from these trails probably haven’t changed much in hundreds of years since the early settlers portaged through the land. Be sure to grab a guidebook (50 cents) at the starting point of each trail (or from the park visitor centres during the off-season) to get an excellent description of each section of the trail via numbered posts.

Lush forests and pristine waters

A hiking trail post marker
 Unlike most of Southern Ontario’s well known lakes, many of the lakes within Algonquin Park’s boundaries ban the use of power boats, meaning both the noise and oil pollution is non-existent and the water is calm and crystal clear; a canoer's paradise. Some of the golden sand beaches I would wager could compete with the best in the country.

Blue sky reflecting off of clear waters in a typical Algonquin bog
My most recent trip to Algonquin Park was this past October. Like the last couple of years we stayed at a very well located cottage complex in Dwight, only a 15 minute drive from Algonquin’s West Gate. Full review of this property can be viewed here, but in brief as long are you are not looking for luxury, this is a clean, well equipped and very affordable option in the area. On the way back to the city be sure to stop at 3 Guys and a Stove in nearby Huntsville for the best gourmet buffet breakfast you’ve ever had!

Logging Chain Lodge - our base for all Algonquin adventures

Mike @ Palms & Pints