At a length of 11km, Mizzy Lake is the longest hiking trail in Algonquin. The trail passes by many lakes and meadows. It is rated as moderate difficulty, with a lot of uphill and downhill hiking, as well as boardwalk along a couple of lakes.
If you decide to go, make sure you go early and carry a flashlight with you. We got there at 10am (which I think it's late). At first we went slowly to enjoy the beautiful scenary along the way. After the half way point, the weather turned bad and we had to rush out as it started to rain heavily. Altogether, it took us about 6 hours to complete. So my advice is if you want to truly admire the area, get there as early as possible. The more time you have on the trail, the more you can see. We couldn't enjoy the later part of the trail as the result of the rain.
The best times to get a good scenic shot are early in the morning and in late evening, when the lights are the warmest.
Unfortunately, my latest trip to Algonquin was hit with poor weather, with cloudy or rainy days, blue sky was a rarity. Despite the dreadful weather, we still headed out early (before 7am), while most other campers were still asleep. We were driving on the road to Lake Opeongo, when we spotted this beautiful reflection of the trees by the lake. You can see the thin layer of morning fog just above the lake. The scenery along this road is just magnificant at this time of the day. We saw 2 loons (see the opening photo) and a woodpecker along the way.
Situated above the treeline, the Visitor Centre provides detailed description about the park, its ecology and history. This is a good place to find out what and where birds and other wildlife have been seen by other visitors to the park.
The outdoor viewing platform is an excellent way to view the surrounding meadows, lakes, hills and forests. It is a good location to view the fall colours, especially for those who don't want to do any hiking.
There is also a theatre that gives you a good idea about the park in a short film. If you are hungry, you can get some food at the self-serve restaurant, and dine with a great view by sitting next to the large windows. The bookstore/gift shop has some good selections of books on Algonquin and outdoor activities. You can probably find some souvenir in here too.
There is a boat launch, canoe and other equipment rentals, water taxi service, a gift shop and an interior camping registration office.
Algonquin has over 2000km of canoe routes! Lake Opeongo is the largest lake in Algonquin and it is one of the many access point to the park's interior along Hwy 60. It is not for novice paddlers. You can hire a water taxi to take you and your canoe to the inner lakes. And of course, you should get a detailed canoe route guide before heading out. A map is shown below.
Moose are the largest animal with antlers in North America. They not difficult to spot in May and June. They are attracted by the salty ponds (from the melting road salt) right by Hwy 60, as they've been starved for sodium in winter.
We had four separate sightings in 3 days (twice for the same moose on the same spot at different times) and one sighting along the Beaver Pond Trail. Just keep looking into the meadows and open area by the highway. You'll know when you see there are a bunch of cars park along the highway with ppl taking pictures.
Don't get too close though, you'll scare it away and miss the photo opportunity.
And, most importantly, don't drive too fast, especially in the dark, as it's very difficult to spot them due to their dark colour. Unfortunately, there are 20-30 moose killed each year along Hwy 60. I can't imagine what your car (and yourself) will be like if you hit a 1000-pound animal at 80km/h or more. Still, there are some ppl that put their live at risk by going well above the speed limit. Please slow down and enjoy the scenary.
There are Bears here! Enjoy seeing them, but be wary! Black bears inhabit this area (we have them in the NC mountains, too!) and usually are shy of humans. However, as with all creatures of the wild they can become aggressive and dangerous. Rules to follow if you encounter a bear: Confront the bear! Give the animal plenty of room and a clear escape route while shouting and waving your arms high to appear larger. If at night, shine flashlights in the bear's eyes to confuse it. If the bear does not retreat, then you retreat slowly giving the bear a wide berth. Keep dogs away! Dogs can aggrevate the bear while nipping at it, only to run back towards you with a bear in hot pursuit! Bear spray, similar to "pepper spray" can also be effective should the bear charge or come too close.
Rules for all in Bear Country... Never feed the bears! Bears are hunters and humans giving them food create problems for both! Don't do it! While camping, keep food secure and out of reach and be sure to keep a clean campsite so refuse and aromas will not be attractive to the Black Bear.
Beware of the Predatory Bear! While extremely rare, they do exist and to them you look and smell like a nice filet mignon. Predatory bears stalk, whereas the typical bear encountering humans will often stand on their hind legs to get a better view, paw the ground, and make huffing sounds, or even fake a charge. The Predatory bear is a sneak and wants you as his sneaker! If attacked, yell, scream, throw rocks, beat it with anything available, use the Bear Spray, and fight for your life! Do not play dead! Play Kick Bear's @$s instead! I don't mean to scare you as the chances of this happening are rare... Only 37 deaths have been recorded in the past 100 years in North America due to Predator Black Bears, but with my luck any encounter with a bear probably wouldn't be with Yogi. Bottom line... Know what to do and be safe!
Moose are the largest of all mammals in Canada and stand over 6-7 feet at the shoulders, with a full-grown bull moose weighing nearly 1,500 pounds….about the weight of eight men!!!
Many people from abroad have not seen a creature the size of a Moose before. Therefore, a photo opportunity is very tempting. The photo to the left illustrates about as close as I like to come to these large creatures, much to my dog's disappointment.
Why?... Well, despite their large size, moose are quick, very agile on their feet, and can reach speeds of up to 40 kph, even over rugged terrain. So, it's best not to approach moose even if they appear to be docile.
Our destination for the day is Algonquin Park, a beautiful Provincial Park in Ontario, whatever season of the year. And the wintertime is no exception. To get here we had to make quite a long drive, but that wasn't a problem. The snowy landscape surrounding us looked so beautiful that we enjoyed our trip a lot. We also made a few stops on the way, like at this waterfall for instance.
We made another stop in the village of Dorset, to get a cup of coffee and stretch our legs. During a cold winter day like this there is not so much to do and see in Dorset. But if you come here in the autumn it will be crawling with people.
Dorset is known for its observation tower and the autumn colours. The observation tower is a fantastic place to see the fall colours. Quite a lot of people know of this place and know that the best time to visit it is on 'Thanksgiving weekend'. I've made a separate page about Dorset where you can get an impression what this place is like during the autumn.
The most likely way that you enter the park is through the West Gate. And the first thing you will see is this welcome sign:
You are now entering Algonquin, the oldest and most famous Provincial Park in Ontario. Since 1893, this vast expanse of forest lakes and rivers has protected some of most precious natural and cultural heritage and welcomed and inspired millions of visitors.
From here the Frank MacDougall Parkway, named for a famous park superintendent, will take you 56 kilometres across the park's south-west corner, trails, museums, campgrounds, and canoe trip access points are waiting to start you on your personal discovery of this wild and magnificent landscape. Have an unforgettable visit....
I couldn't have said it any better... yes... unforgettable it is! Algonquin is so beautiful!!
I've been to Algonquin about 6 - 7 times by now and whether it was summer or autumn, I just loved it here. This was my first real visit in the winter though. But my first impression wasn't disappointing, it looked lovely! The plan was to go on a little hiking trip. I hope that would be possible with all this snow!
When you visit the park, or even just drive through it, you must go to the Algonquin Park office to pay the fee for the park. On my Algonquin Page you can read much more about the entrance fee and all other things concerning Algonquin (including lots and lots of travel stories and photos of my other visits this beautiful park).
During the summer the park personal is there to help you plan your trip to Algonquin. But during the winter the office seems closed. You still can get some brochures here and of course pay the entrance fee. All you need to do is fill in some forms and leave the money in the appropriate place. Do bear in mind to have some small change with you! As there is no one there, there is no one to give you any change.
The reason why we are in Algonquin is to go on a short hike. There are lots of hiking trails in Algonquin Park (see my Algonquin page) and the one we chose was the "Track and Tower Trail".
The trail is located at 25 kilometres from the west entrance of the park and it is 7.7kilometres long. The hike will take you approximately 3 hours to do and it is moderate in difficulty. The looped trail features a spectacular lookout over Cache Lake. There is an optional 5.5 km side trip follows an abandoned railway to Mew Lake.
The guide book is available at the beginning of the hike (see picture). If the box is empty you can always pick up a copy at the visitor centre.
The trail followed a little river, which wasn't frozen. It all looked so picturesque! Algonquin in the winter is a totally different experience than being here in the summer time. It is different, but very special. The flowing water, the green trees, covered in a thick layer of white snow, the wonderful nature of Algonquin. Look at the photo, doesn't it look beautiful!
The trail continues, the little stream has made way for a bigger one. The water runs so calmly here that the sides of the river are starting to freeze over. Looking at this picture I get instantly cold! Hahaha, but in fact I wasn't that cold at all. I guess the saying is right: "there is no bad weather, just bad clothing". Hahaha, but please never tell anyone I have admitted to this :-)
This is one of the last photos I took during the hike. One more time I exhibited my poor hands to the cold :-)) I just was fascinated by this play between streaming water, ice and snow, so I needed to click the camera. I just wished I could have gotten a bit closer for you so you could see a bit better the beautiful shapes of the ice, created by the constant flow of the running water.