Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: July 2021
Amable du Fond River Provincial Park is a non-operating waterway park that was created to provide and protect an ecological link between Algonquin Provincial Park and Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. The river was named after Amable Dufond, a Native hunter and trapper who lived in this area in the mid-19th century. At one time the river was used to transport logs downstream to the Mattawa River.
There are a few places to access Amable du Fond River, all of which involve having a boat or canoe. Since we have neither and we weren’t planning on renting anything, we instead visited Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area which contains a single hiking trail that follows along the shore of the Amable du Fond River.
Entrance into the conservation area is located off of Highway 17, just north of Algonquin. There’s a map of the trail in the parking lot near the trailhead. The entire trail system is 2.8km in length, but there are a series of shortcuts to make the hike shorter if necessary. Along the way there are 12 marked sites.
The trail loops through the forest and follows along the side of a steep gorge. The path is wide, relatively flat and well marked. The first few interpretive sites along the trail highlight that this area is a mixed forest and was once used for logging as early as the 1850s.
As we neared the gorge we could hear the sounds of rushing water. At first we could only catch glimpses of the rapids between the trees. The first good views of the river are between sites #7 (start of the historic log slide that were used to transport logs safely downstream), #8 (great view of the Eau Claire Gorge), and #9 (end of the historic log slide).
After crossing a bridge, we arrived at site #10, which was flooded by Hurricane Hazel in 1954. The trail then leads to the historic squatter’s cabin at site #11. This logger’s cabin was reconstructed in 1989 and is open for day-use only. Apparently a squatter, who was also a fugitive, lived here for several years. Today the cabin contains a wooden bed along with a table and some chairs. The door was open so naturally we poked around inside to check it out.
After that there is one last site (#12 – forest management) before the path loops back to the trailhead. Overall it took us 45 minutes to complete the trail. From here it’s a short drive to the next park on our itinerary at Samuel de Champlain.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here