We were driving towards Opeongo Lake (3 kms north of Km 46.3 mark) when the rain started falling. Before we know it, it turned into a massive down pour with visibility becoming almost zero. We saw some kayakers drastically pedaling to get back to the launching deck. When we reached the launching deck of Opeongo Portage Store (6.2 kms north of 46.3 km mark), the rain had sent everybody packing (picture # 1). Our plan to rent out canoes at the Store were thus thwarted. However, a powered boat and its passengers were still enjoying it out on the lake (picture # 2).
Thunderstorms and rain are a frequent problem in summer season, but I suggest that the travelers should wait them out. They come and go within no time.
For example, in this case, although our canoeing plan failed, we were able to hike on a trail later in the day.
I've been going there for 25 years. Number one problem is noisy people. They RUIN it for everyone. This is not a wilderness park as often described. It is a daycare for teenagers and five year olds. Crank up the volume big time. Going into the interior by foot or canoe for miles on end results in MORE noise from idiots not less. The organized campgrounds are patrolled and noise is little problem. But go into the interior away from most people and you will find people canoeing with infants. Yes, infants. Or five and under usually. Or drunken teenagers. I mean in the middle of this so called "vast" wilderness. Its bull. Mostly logging trucks and punks. The nature itself is spectacular, but you can rarely get to enjoy it in the context of where you are because of endless racket from people. Way too many people with little kids. I like kids, just not all the time screaming 50 meters from my campsite over open water. Really kills the experience.
Even though Algonquin is a provincial park, it doesn't mean that all of its land is protected. In fact, only about 20% of the land is saved from the chainsaw.
If you are only travelling around Hwy 60, you will likely even not know about this fact, as most of the logging activities occur deep in the interior of the park. I was aware of this when driving on the road to Lake Opeongo, I noticed that a sign by a dirt road warning ppl that this is a private road and watch for logging trucks.
Another disturbing fact is that there are over 2000km of logging roads in the park's interior! It can serve as an easy access to the interior by poachers.
For more info about logging within the park's boundary, read the document below.
I went to the park July 1st. While hiking the mosquitoes where so bad that it felt like i was walking through high grass hitting my hands, but it was realy mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are abundant, beginning in mid to late-May and usually last longer than blackflies. Mosquitoes are most often a problem in cooler, shady parts of the forest, as well as in the evening, and into the first couple of hours of darkness. They usually become less of a problem through the night (although they do not disappear entirely).
Here are some tips to help yourself.
1) Wear long-sleeve shirts with cuffs and collars that can be buttoned tight, as well as long pants with elastic cuffs (or tuck your pants into your socks).
2) Mosquitoes and Blackflies are attracted to dark colours. Wear white, tan, khaki, etc.
3) Use insect repellent on areas that are exposed — something with DEET works best. Be careful with DEET and plastics or rubber (camera housing, the rubber rim around binoculars, etc.) because it melts the plastic/rubber. Be very careful with DEET around your eyes, lips and nose (it stings!)
4) Try some sort of netting (a bug hat, or bug jacket).
With all of this you will be ok!!
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Although I've spent a lot of time in Africa and Asia, I had seen nothing like the bug and mosquito problem in Algonquin park. I wish I had read all the tips on VT before choosing June to come here. Normally the Centennial ridges trail should take around 4 hours, we managed it in less than 3 !! With the swarms of these little buggers nipping at my ears, eyes and even up my nose we were virtually sprinting round. We did have DEET on but to very little effect. By the time we were back at the car my tongue had swollen along with my eyelids. Not funny at all. Fortunately the nice people at the Pharmacy in Huntsville had seen it all before and gave me some anti-histamine tablets to take. For 3 days I had to wear sunglasses even though it rained most of that time. Never again in June.
Though the highway 60 corridor gives visitors great opportunities to see wildlife it can also cause problems. Every year more than two dozen moose are killed in nightly collisions along the Parkway Corridor. Respect the posted speed limits.
How to keep bears way fro your food:
1. Put all food and garbage into sealable, airtight bags, such as Ziploc bags. Divide these bags of food into two piles of equal weight.
2. Put each pile into a separate plastic garbage bag. Tie the bags shut and put each bag into its own stuff sack.
3. Tie a rock to one end of a 100-foot length of rope, then throw the rock and cord over a strong, sturdy tree branch 20 to 30 feet off the ground and 8 to 10 feet away from the tree trunk.
4. Tie one filled stuff sack to one end of the rope using a sturdy knot, and hoist that bag off the ground until it reaches the tree branch.
5. Untie the rock.
6. Tie the taut rope in your hand to the second stuff sack full of food, leaving a loop in the knot. Remember, you're still holding the first bag in the air.
7. Stuff all the excess rope into the stuff sack.
8. Push the lower bag up with your hands. The first bag will come down as you push up the second, since they are counterbalancing each other over the limb.
9. Use a sturdy stick to push up the bottom of the stuff sack even more so it's out of reach of a bear (at least 12 to 15 feet high).
10. Use the loop in the second knot to retrieve the bags. Put a stick in the loop and pull downward.
Bears are spectacular and beautiful wild creatures, and where they have had little contact with humans they tend to avoid us. Unfortunately, humans are encroaching on bear habitat more and more each year. If we are going to coexist peacefully, it's up to we humans to take care not to create bear problems, since, as the saying goes, " There are no problem bears, just problem people."
Nevertheless, there have been tragic consequences to bear/human interaction in Algonquin. Three boys were killed in 1978 and an adult couple, trapped on an island with a bear, was killed in 1991.
Here are some safety tips for travelling the interior:
Be prepared! Learn as much as you can about bears before venturing into bear country. Check with the appropriate authorities before setting out (provincial wildlife officer, park warden, etc.) to see if there has been any reported bear activity along your planned route.
Stay alert! Watch ahead for bears and bear signs. Claw marks on trees, tracks in the dirt, bear droppings, plant root diggings, berries or trampled vegetation are all signs that bears may be in the area. Overturned rocks or broken-up rotted logs often mean a bear has been foraging for insects.
Try not to surprise a bear. If a bear hears you coming, it will usually avoid you. Warn bears of your presence by talking loudly or singing, especially in dense bush where visibility may be limited or around rivers or streams where hearing is limited. Your voice will help identify you as human.
Never feed a bear, either intentionally or unintentionally by being careless with your garbage or food scraps.
Hike during daylight hours in as large a group as possible and stick together. If you smell or see signs of a dead animal (ravens circling) move away from the smell, making a wide detour. Leave the area if possible.
In Algonquin, blackflies are usually out by mid-May (depending on the weather in any given year) and are usually around until late June. The worst time of day for blackflies tends to be the last two or three hours of sunlight. Mosquitoes are also abundant, beginning in mid to late-May and usually last longer than blackflies (into July). Mosquitoes are most often a problem in cooler, shady parts of the forest, as well as in the evening, and into the first couple of hours of darkness. They usually become less of a problem through the night (although they do not disappear entirely).
How to Prepare Yourself
If you are concerned about biting insects we suggest preparing yourselves in one or more of the following ways:
Wear long-sleeved shirts (if it is hot, lightweight cotton shirts are good) with cuffs and collars that can be buttoned tight as well as long pants with elastic cuffs (or tuck your pants into your socks). Blackflies crawl and will land on you and then crawl under clothing if they can (i.e., if you have a loose neckline they will crawl down your shirt, or if you have loose pants crawl up your pant legs).
Do not wear dark clothing (black, dark blue, red, etc.) as blackflies are attracted to dark colours. White, tan, khaki, etc. are preferable.
Use insect repellent on the areas that are exposed — something with DEET works the best although you have to be careful about not getting it on any plastics or rubber (camera housing, the rubber rim around binoculars, etc.) because it melts the plastic/rubber. Also be very careful with DEET around your eyes, lips, and nose (it stings!).
If you don't like to use insect repellent, either put up with the blackflies around the areas of open skin, or invest in some sort of netting (a bug hat, or bug jacket) which can be bought at most outdoor stores. Evidence exists that something in garlic acts as a repellent.
Leaches can also be a problem in Algonquin. Early in the afternoon I took a swim on the other side of the lake across from our camp area. When we returned I quickly dried off, got dressed, started to collect firewood for the night, and started getting dinner ready. These things all take time so once you're fed, the fires going and you've found a place to hang your food for the night, it's pretty dark. Well... about 11:30 at night we finally decided to go to sleep.
Of course the dog is being very pushy by trying to secure a spot inside the tent. I wage a short, but intense battle with her to maintain my authority and rightful place gaurding the entrance to the tent. I assist Maria by holding the flashlight while she takes off her mud-caked boots and she assists me in a similar fashion. I take off my boots to find one sock is soaked in blood. Hmm... I don't feel any pain? Well... let's take a look.
It turns out that a leech - who has been feasting on me for the past 9 hours - is a wee bit gourged with blood and is now stuck between my toes and unable to escape. Once I part my toes he just falls off and it appears he is now about 1.5 inches in length. Interesting. We take some photos, clean up and hit the sack.
Definitely drive within the speed limit. Slow down to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the highway. Algonquin is not a motor speedway and there is no reason to speed. It takes longer to brake at high speed.
And you really don't want to hit a moose, which is the largest of the deer family, and can weigh over 1000 pounds! Be extremely careful, especially at night, as they are difficult to spot because of their dark colour. No doubt that it can do tremandous damage to your vehicle and can result in serious personal injury. Unfortunately, there are a dozen moose that are killed every year as a result of collisions with a vehicle.
By driving slowly, you'll be able to spot wildlife easily. I spotted a moose in the meadow below the highway early in the morning while we were driving. In another incident, we had enough time to swirl around a toad crossing the highway.
Algonquin is likely the most popular provincial parks, frequently visited by tour buses during the summer and especially the fall.
If you see a tour bus in a hiking trail parking lot (likely the Hardwood Lookout Trail - the shortest one in the park), your best bet is either wait or come back later, unless you want to hike with 50 other ppl at the same time.
Another solution is to do the Hardwood Lookout early in the morning or late in the evening. You can guarantee peace and quiet this way as most tour buses don't arrive until after 11am.
What is nicer than to sit on the beach have a nice drink and watch a beautiful sunset!.... hmmmm.... not possible according to the rules at Algonquin park :-((
It was very quiet in the park on my visit and I noticed we weren't the only ones ignoring these rules for the night. As a European / Dutch person these rules sound rather silly, I don't see any harm it in as long as you don't cause any nuisance to other visitors. I can see that they forbid being too loud, and openly drunk, but not for having one drink while enjoying the sunset. But they are in general much strict on the use of alcohol in Canada than in The Netherlands. That's something I really need to get used to, hahaha, but I doubt that I ever will. I feel a bit like being treated like a child and the rules give me the feeling that I don't have any idea of how to deal responsibly with alcohol. Oh well, it's a different culture, and every culture seems to have it's own rules... hahaha, but this is one that I find hard to understand :-)
There is one problem though when they catch you drinking alcohol (or carrying an open bottle) outside a registered campsite; you run the risk of getting a fine and maybe even eviction.
Camping in bear country...... hahaha, nope I didn't see this bear on the campground! I actually didn't see any bears at all in Algonquin Park, but they are here, so it is something that you should be aware of!
The chances of meeting a bear Algonquin Park are very rare, but you could meet up with a campground bear. Unfortunately these bears have lost their fears of humans due to feeding by people. Campground bears don't (or very rare) pose a danger to people, but they are a destructive nuisance when searching for human food or garbage. Here are some simple rules to prevent problems with these bears :
* In campground and picnic area store all your food inside the closed trunk of your vehicle.
* Never store food, cooking utensils or fragrant items like soap, toothpaste and deodorant in your tent.
* Keep your campsite clean. Wash dishes after meals and don't forget to keep the barbeque clean.
The Black Bear is reasonable common in Algonquin Park, but like I said, the chances of meeting them are very slim. The bear population is around 2000, which is about one on every three square kilometres, hahaha, so it sounds likely to see one. But even the Park staffs themselves spot the black bear not very often; it's not uncommon for them to sight only one or two black bears in a year. Hahaha, so I never count on meeting them on my short trips to the park.
When you go to the visitor centre there is a whiteboard at the entrance where you can what wildlife you've seen in the park and where. And occasionally I did see the black bear mentioned on there, so it's not impossible!
This picture of a bear was taken on my trip to the westcoast at Mount Robson.
I could have put this under nightlife as the hostel was a great place to down a few beers and chat with other travelers but since we were going out for five days, I did not want to leave my precious Wellington County Imperial Stout in what might become a hot car. I had never tried the stuff and it was the first time I was able to lay my hands on a couple bottles in all my times in Ontario. So, after downing quite a few beers already, we drank both big bottles of the very big beer. It clocks in at 8% alcohol and with all the fun, we forgot to pack our gear for the canoe trip entirely! We woke up a little late the next day and in no mood to pack. As it was, we did not get on the lake and paddling until nearly three in the afternoon. SO, do not drink too much beer the night before your canoe trip. Wait until after you get back instead. ;=>