In the tips on this page I have focused mainly on the hiking as I did that during my last trip to Algonquin. But I can assure you that going canoeing is something you really have to try while you are in Algonquin. I don't have my canoe pictures available right now, but when I do I will post some of them on this page as well.
There are a few other pages about Algonquin Park on VT and they show much more about going canoeing in this beautiful park. Although all these pages are different, they all have one thing in common : the love for Algonquin Park. So when you are done reading my page you might want to check out these Algonquin pages as well :
The Algonquin Witch Project by RobDavis :
True Canadian Adventure by Epicult :
An Algonquin Teamwork Blueprint by Richiecdisc :
Though one can see a lot of wildlife and beautiful scenery from the parks corridor road, to truly appreciate all that Algonquin has to offer, one must get out in a canoe and spend a few days camping on the islands.
Fondest memory: Basking in the early glow of the rising sun, it was hard for her to fathom that just thirty-six hours earlier she had stood in the pouring rain, soaked and chilled to the bone, greedily munching on a mixture of peanuts and pretzels that forged her meager supper. At the time, she thought herself mad for succumbing to going on a five-day canoe trip when she had never even set foot in one. It was just to please her nature crazy boyfriend who had expounded relentlessly the rewards of using one’s body to explore the planet in a way more in tune with the wonders it can present. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: The trip had begun auspiciously enough in Algonquin Provincial Park on the heels of Hurricane Isabel that somehow had managed to work its way up to Ontario, a Province nowhere near an ocean the last time I had checked. It was the wind rather than the rain that worried Doreen and as I steered our little Kevlar Ultralight straight into it, I had to admit I thought I had bit off more than perhaps D could chew. But she surprised me; despite the white caps we made our way across Smoke Lake, the biggest one we would have to traverse on the whole trip. We were surprisingly happy to face our first portage mostly because we could get out of the canoe and be on dry land, where the wind did not present as many problems. Still, it was hard work moving the canoe and all our gear through the woods to the next lake. Inexperienced, we made two trips with me doubling back to get the canoe while D watched over our gear. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: It was getting dark by the time we reached our camp site and with the rain coming down steadily, we rushed to set up our tent and I put Doreen inside to warm up. I organized our food and found a suitable tree to hang it from to keep it from any varmints, especially bears. It was out of the question to cook up a hot meal, as eating in the tent in a bear habitat is not wise. But we had to eat so I told D she should come out to eat something quickly as we had burned a lot of calories and needed to replenish them for the following day. Warm and cozy, she relented and we soon found ourselves standing side by side and dipping our hands alternately into the zip-lock bags containing the pretzels and peanuts. Full but not entirely satisfied, D got back in the tent before she was too wet and I went to hang the food. By the time I got in the tent, my clothes seemed to contain enough water to fill Lake Superior so I piled them in a wet mess in the vestibule as bringing them inside would have been a catastrophe. I finally warmed up once inside my sleeping bag but lie there wondering just why it is I like to spend my vacations beating the elements or, on occasion, having them beat me. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: The morning could not come quick enough, as I was anxious to get to work on drying out our gear and making a hot meal. But soon it became apparent that we had camped on the western side of our little island and there would be no sun to warm us or help dry our wet clothes. We let them drip on a line and enjoyed some tea and oatmeal, a gourmet meal compared to what we had gulped down the night before. Not lingering too long due to the shade, we set off early and figured we could dry things out during our lunch break, as it was indeed a nice day. Though her shoulders were sore from her virgin paddling from the previous day, D relished finally getting out in the canoe in good weather. The lakes were smaller so there were plenty of portages to give our shoulders a break and also practice our technique in transporting our gear. We managed to dry our stuff out and made sure we picked a camp on the eastern shore of the island so as to have a nicer morning the following day. It was nice to have a hot meal in the evening and with two days under out belt, we were more relaxed in knowing that we could actually do this multi-day canoe thing that had been a sketchy plan up till then. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: The next morning was magical. I awoke far before the sun showed its face and enjoyed the starlit sky just before the dawn. There was a light fog hovering over the lake that added to the surreal quality once the first rays of the sun crept over the horizon. Though we both went a bit crazy with our cameras, we did not let that keep us from enjoying the beauty and solitude of the moment. We mostly sat and let the power of one of those perfect moments in nature ease slowly into our souls. I think for the first time on the trip that D felt all the hardships were worth it and she thanked me silently with her beaming smile that glowed in the amber early morning light. As it warmed up, we shed some layers of clothes and let others dry on the perfectly placed line that took full advantage of our eastern shore setting. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast as one never knows what tomorrow brings when living in nature and a rain filled afternoon could be just around the corner. Sad as we were to leave, it was time to pack up and get back out on the lake. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: The glass-like lake was a sheer pleasure to paddle on and with a beautiful blue sky above our heads, we seemed to move effortlessly across it. On each portage, we got better and soon we found ourselves looking forward to them, as we needed only one trip to transport everything. I found I could use my life jacket as a pad and that between it and my backpack, I could rest the canoe on my shoulders without even having to use my arms to balance it. D remarked that I looked like I had been doing it my whole life and it did indeed feel the most natural thing. What really cemented it was meeting another couple who had been doing these types of trips for years and having them say they could never get the portages down to one trip. Finally, D felt comfortable that we were up to task and from that point on, the trip just got easier. In fact, we found we were a perfect team and enjoyed that we could get from one point to another as well as anyone, and on reaching camp, could get things sorted out efficiently and thus enjoy more free time. We swam naked in the cool waters and lie on the huge slabs of rock that held the warmth of the sun deep within. We found scenic spots to cook up our food with views far better than any four star restaurant and washed dishes with fiery sunsets as a backdrop. Quite simply, we lived as one with nature and found we missed little of our former lives that now seemed so far away. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: But as always, paradise never lasts long. The couple we had met also explained to us that another huge storm was coming our way the following morning so we decided to set up camp closer to the last portage than we would have liked to and get a very early start the following day. We actually broke down camp in the dark and ate a cold breakfast to save time. The shortened paddle brought us to the longest portage of the trip in no time and with pride and determination we marched the 1640 meters before nary a raindrop was shed. The final lake was another big one but it was surprisingly calm despite the ensuing storm. We actually nearly beat the rain entirely but appropriately, we got a small soaking just before we reached shore. It mattered little at that point; we had accomplished all we set out to and even more, we had done it in great fashion. Doreen was rightly proud of her baptism of fire in the realm of canoeing and I was more than happy to find that we made a great team when stacked up against all that nature threw at us. We knew well that if it were not for those trying moments, the great ones would not have been nearly as appreciated. It is the pitting of oneself against the elements that makes it so special in the first place and when you come through it to enjoy the many fruits, it brings also a memory that stays with you longer than one garnered in perfect conditions. And these were those kinds of memories, ones that will last a lifetime.
The best thing about the park is that it offers something for everyone. Ethan (my business partners son) came with us on a trip last year. It's never too soon to teach the small fry the importance of the things we're so good a destroying and so poor at preserving. Start em' while they're young, they'll love you for it!
Fondest memory: Passing on the knowledge and respect that everyone should possess and share regarding nature.
If you want to get the most out of your trip you may want to invest in one or more books on the market today.
1. The Explorer’s guide to Algonquin Park by Michael Runtz
2. Algonquin Park Visitor’s Guide by Wayne Van Sickle
3. Frommer’s Algonquin Provincial Park
4. Canoeing Algonquin Park by Donald L. Lloyd
5. Backroad Mapbook Algonquin Region by Mussio Ventures
I recommend all of these books especially the Backroad Mapbook. It shows canoe and hiking routes. Once in the park, you can pick up other publications detailing more specific needs. Check out the Algonquin bookstore online at www.algonquinpark.on.ca .
One of the best things about being in the park is the fact that when you're in the middle of nowhere there are no phones ringing, no cars or other types of "white stress". Peaceful, quite, reflective, and very relaxing.
Fondest memory: All it takes is a couple of days of trekking to escape it all.
Order a canoe route map from the Algonquin Park website. I highly recommend ordering it a good few weeks before leaving for your trip. First, you will need to reserve camp sites (even in the interior) and thus, you'll need to plan a route. Also, the reverse side of this map is very, very useful. It conatins great information including what to bring / pack, rates, useful tips and directions for canoeing as well as commonly asked questions.
Order it here:
My first time in Canada, I saw this moose. The first moose I saw in my life.... it was breathtaking. I was canoeing on one of the lakes in Algonquin National Park, and I wasn't aware of the moose at all. My back was to the moose so I had no idea it was there. All of a sudden my friend said 'shhhhhh, get your camera.... there is a moose behind you!'
I turned around and was amazed. At first the moose was still quite far away. But the wind blew the canoe towards the shore to the moose. Slowly we got closer, and I sat there gazing at the moose.... a magical moment. Some other canoers came, and broke the spell. The moose got annoyed by their noise and left the lake. But for me this was a moment I will never forget.
When I tried to see the colours, my first instinct was to go to Algonquin Provincial Park. But when I arrived there, I quickly concluded I was too late and I had to go further south. Most of the leaves had fallen already, but these few trees were still having the spectacular fall colours. A little taste of how fantastic the park can look when you're here in the peak of the fall colours.
But as most of the colours were gone, I drove a bit to the south, to the area around Dorset. And I saw some spectacular fall colours there! You can see more of these fall photos on my Dorset page :
Algonquin Park is a provincial park, and for all parks in Ontario you have to pay an entrance fee. The fees for 2002-2003 are :
Day Use Fees:
Includes entrance to the Park, access to all trails, museums, beaches, picnic grounds, and facilities (except the Algonquin Gallery which has an additional charge)
Daily Vehicle Permit
$12/vehicle/day* - Parkway Corridor
$10.50/vehicle/day* - East Side (Lake Traver Rd. Brent and Kiosk)
Bus Permit $80/bus/day
Ont. Seniors Bus Permit $60/bus/day
Ont. School Group Bus Permit $40/bus/day
Bus Permit for Ontario Persons with Disabilities $40/bus/day
(* Ontario Seniors discount by 20% and Ontario persons with disabilities discount by 50%)
Seasonal Vehicle Permits:
Seasonal Vehicle Permits (Provide entry into and available at all Provincial Parks in Ontario)
Summer Vehicle Permit
(April 1 - Nov. 30, 2002) $65
Winter Vehicle Permit
(Dec. 1, 2002 - March 31, 2003) $45
Annual Vehicle Permit
(April 1, 2002 - March 31, 2003) $100