Algonquin Park is probably Ontario’s worst kept secret for the outdoor enthusiast. Its beautiful colours, serene lakes, and bountiful wildlife draw visitors from all over the world. Though it can get busy—cars lined up out of the gate, canoes knocking together at Canoe Lake, and the Lookout Trail looking more like a paved pathway—we will never stop coming to this gorgeous park. For anyone with shares this love/hate relationship with Algonquin, here are eight reasons to love it again.
1. A Cottage Tour on Canoe Lake
Yes, this is probably the most well-known lake in Algonquin Park. If you can break away from the crowded docks, there are some amazing, old-school cottages that have been around for decades. A boat tour around the lake won’t disappoint. Looking for something a little less crowded? Check out the cottages on Smoke or Cache, equally as cool and a little less touristy!
2. Interacting with Wildlife
Every Thursday in August, the park puts on a public wolf howl. In the days before, naturalists have scouted for a pack, calling out and waiting for a response. When it works, it is such a cool experience; everyone lining the highway, totally silent as you wait to hear the howls for yourself.
3. Upscale Dining
You can only handle so many hot dogs and s’mores before you’ll be craving something that can’t be roasted on a stick. Take a break from campfire cooking and splurge on a dinner at one of the three lodges within the park: Killarney Lodge, Arowhon Pines, or Bartlett Lodge.
4. Rare Geological Features
If you’ve been to the park in the heat of the summer or during the fall colours, you know that Highway 60 can be a nightmare. Why not check out the Barron Canyon trail, situated at the east end of the park? After the end of the last Ice Age, a large river raced through this area, carving out this immense 100m deep canyon. Bask in the beauty of this natural phenomenon, just don’t stand too close!
5. A Space to Learn
There is endless opportunity to learn about different species, plants, and the history of the area throughout the park. The Junior Ranger Program encourages kids to document their surroundings, making them more aware of conservation efforts. The Bear Aware and Park Helper programs teach kids about bear safety and the importance of park cleanup. Of course you can’t forget the Visitor’s Centre, where informative shows and life-sized animals are displayed for a deeper understanding of the large expanse that is Algonquin Park.
6. Blueberry Picking
The old airfield lies behind Mew Lake campground and along the Old Railway Bike Trail. The site of a prescribed burn, the resulting bounty is a huge draw for park visitors. Keep your hands free for some delicious blueberry picking! Just watch out: bears are also a fan of these sweet berries and have been known to visit the area quite regularly.
7. A Natural Waterslide
Also on the east side of the park, High Falls is a great place to cool down during the summer. Try out the natural water slide for some thrill-seeking, and walk down to the bottom of the falls for a scenic vantage point.
8. A Test of Strength
Portaging and hiking in Algonquin can be both physically and mentally draining: your pack is heavy, roots seem to claw at your feet, and if you get wet in the bush, you stay wet in the bush. But once you’re back to the safety of you car, there’s nothing better than realizing you were tough enough to persevere. And if you can survive the peak of black fly season, you can do anything!