Have canoe will travel....
The best way to get to Algonquin Provincial Park is by car but once there, you cannot beat a canoe to transport yourself through the myriad of lakes and rivers that compose its interior. If you have you own, great but if not, rent one from one of the numerous outfitters. We used the Portage Store and five days rental came to a little under CAN$220 for five days including all taxes and accessories.
Moose in the headlights!
Many fatalities occur every year in Canada from collisions with Moose on the highways. These creatures stand 6-7 feet and can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. This means that when you hit a moose in your car, you take out its legs and the remaining 1,300 pounds come through your windshield.
Just this past September I witnessed a car demolished by a small moose. Sadly, the moose didn't survive and it's doubtful the driver did. All things considered, the moose has a better chance of survival than you do!
Although most highways (w/problem areas) will have "moose crossing" signs posted, be careful and attentive while driving anywhere in Ontario's wilderness zones at night... especially in parks such as Algonquin.
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Footwear for Success: Part I
Not enough can be said for packing the right footwear! To ensure you have a safe and comfortable trip, pack these three different types of footwear/wet-wear.
1. Wet Shoes/Boots:
These are typically good waterproofed hiking/approach boots. You'll wear them while in the canoe, portaging and setting up camp for the night. They're important, for a few reasons.
Ankle support. When you're trekking over wet or slimy rocks they offer good support. When adding a 40-50 Lb pack and a canoe on your shoulders, they're a must! Unlike running shoes, these boots are typically constructed with this type of trekking in mind.
Water-resistance. Getting in and out of the canoe, trekking through swamps, dragging the canoe through marshes that have dried to the point they are no longer navigatable via canoe. A gore-tex lined boot is great, but not necessary. Gore-tex boots can be expensive but they'll last the occasional trekker a lifetime and last a frequent trekker many years, if cared for properly. If your boots are not waterproof, coat them with a silicone or beeswax based product for a good water-tight seal. They are called wet shoes because... they may get wet. If you "know" you're going to get wet (navigating bogs, etc)... take them off and throw on some sandles or go bare foot until you're on dry ground.
Grip. When you're loaded down with gear and portaging through a swamp, riddled with wet boulders and trees/branches in the middle of a swamp, you need to know your boots have good support and the best of grip.
If you buy your boots at an outdoors/specialty shop, they should have an inclined test step (complete with different surface types). This allows you to test-drive the boots for grip. I never use them but they seem really popular with some people. hahaha... Try for a sole that grips in both forward and backward directions. Vibram typically manufactures great soles.
Part II: Continued below...
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
Outfitting yourself with the right canoe
Like most people, you'll probably have to rent a canoe if you plan to partake in backcountry canoeing/camping on any of Algonquins almost 2000 lakes. Depending on the style of trip, you will have very different requirements for your canoe. Note that a 15' canoe can carry two people, two packs and a dog, although it will be tight. A 16' is more comfortable.
If you're on larger lakes or the wind is blowing, you'll NEED a canoe with a keel, otherwise you'll be blown all over the place, regardless of your paddling skills.
Grumman Aluminum (15' - 70+lbs)
Usage: These are heavy but cheap. If you plan to stay on one lake and/or have very few (small) portages, one of these cheapies will do you just fine. They're noisy if you don't have good paddle control.
Price: approx. $20 CAD a day
Nova Craft/Generic Kevlar (15-17' : 50-60lbs)
These are good for a few smaller portages and most general usage. Decent in wind.
Price: approx. $27-32 CAD a day
Ultralight Kevlar (16.5-17.5' - 43-48 lbs)
If you can afford it, I highly recommend these canoes. The Rolls Royce of canoes, these are excellent for portaging distances in excess of 2km, offer good handling (even in the wind), are fast and are a perfect size for 2 people, 2 bags and a dog.
Price: approx. $30-37 CAD a day
Ultralight Kevlar (18' - 44 lbs)
Great because of their weight but this craft has two faults.
1. No keel... This, coupled with their 18' length makes you the laughing stock amongst the wind gods.
2. Length... While it's very nice to have a wide and long boat for loading in your gear, it makes for a very ackward haul through long, technical portages. Therefore I don't recommended these for long treks or for paddling large lakes where wind speeds may become an issue.
Price: approx. $37+ CAD a day
And the winner is... the Ultralight Kevlar (16.5-17.5' - 43-48 lbs). Spend the 30 bucks you'll love yourself for it. Just be sure to reserve a canoe before arriving or you may get stuck with a big aluminum monster. Ekk!!!!
- Sailing and Boating
Footwear for Success: Part II
2. Dry shoes:
These shoes will put a smile on your face at the end of the day. Typically you'll only wear these once you've setup camp and are relaxing (while your wet shoes are drying). Occasionally, during the day, you may get blisters or just can't handle your wet shoes anymore.... In these situations, dry shoes can save your feet. But, I highly recommend wearing them until you've completed your day's travels. If they get wet, you're screwed, so be careful!
Covering your boots from the bottom of your lacings and extending to just below your knees, these god-like coverings (gaitors pictured left) keep mud, water, sticks & rocks from getting into your boots and keep your pants dry up to the knee. They cost anywhere from $20USD to over $100 depending on quality/materials.
I have an acquaintance that, after jumping out of the canoe and into a marsh area (bad idea), lost one shoe due to the fact that although the water is only 1 foot deep, the mud is 3-4 feet deep. If you're faced with having to jump out in a bog, make sure you tighten up those laces and make them boot laces, not shoe laces.
There are times when no matter how or how good your gear is, you're gonna' get wet! Just do your best to be prepared and enjoy the challenge. :-)
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Driving to Algonquin park by car.
We drove to Algonquin park by car from Ottawa. The drive takes ca 1 hour and 45 minutes. To get there from Ottawa you proceed west along Highway 417, pass through the town of Pembroke and make a left turn into Doran road, which is marked as Renfrew County Road 26. Then make the first right turn onto Barron Canyon Road, which is marked as Renfrew County Road 28.
Then you drive on Barron Canyon Road for ca 25 minutes until you reach Algonquin Park Sand Lake Gate where you pay the entrance fee.
The road is gravel road.
Greggor58 did all the driving.
How to get here
Highway #60 runs through the south end of Algonquin Park. The East Gate is located just west of the town of Whitney. The West Gate is located just east of the town of Dwight.
The other access points to the park that run off highway #17 (The Trans-Canada Highway) to the north of the park. Other access points run off highway #11 to the west of the park and others run off of Highway #60 to the east of the park. (See map)
From Toronto to Alqonguin :
Take Highway #400 North to Barrie.
At Barrie take Highway #11 North to Huntsville. Go to the Highway #60 exit towards Ottawa and Algonquin Park (east).
It's about 250 kilometers.
Algonquin State Provincial Park Ontario
My trip to Algonquin Park took me through Toronto, up Highway 400 to Barrie onto Highway 11 to Huntsville and finally onto Highway 60 to the West gate of the Park. From Toronto, this is about a 3 hour drive. This was added to the 10 hours of driving from my home in New Jersey the day before. The sight of the Algonquin sign meant the hard part of the trip was over
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
A website that I like very much is this online road map :
In this next link I already choose the map with the area of Algonquin Park for you.
With this website you can click on a part of the map of Ontario, and get the roadmap for that area. You can zoom in very good on an area, so it makes the map easy to read. Another option is to go to the index of place-names, and search the map that way. The maps are quite large, so it might take some time to download.
The red line in the picture is the highway 60 corridor, the only 'real' road through the park (there are a few more access roads as well to the edges of the park, but no real road through the park). You can see how huge the park is and not accessible by road. The only way to get into the interior is to hike, bike or maybe your best option : canoe!
bus to Algonquin from Toronto or Ottawa
Cheaper travel close to the park. Twice a week service. It takes you to the wolf Den Lodge Hostel which is at Oxtongue lake. (15 minute drive to the park) Takes highway 11 north to highway 60 than east.
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