Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: September 2021
Algonquin Provincial Park is the first provincial park that was created in Ontario. It contains a series of interconnected lakes, rivers and creeks that create the perfect conditions to canoe or just enjoy the water. It is also reputed to be one of the best places in the province to enjoy the fall foliage. While every summer we plan a backcountry canoe trip into the interior, this year we decided to return in the fall to see whether the fall colours lived up to the hype.
K’s dad has been talking about renting a campervan for years, but has never followed through. So last year for Christmas we surprised his parents by booking a trip to Algonquin so he can finally test out a campervan. We took care of booking the campsite and planning all the activities, while we left it up to him to rent the campervan.
Day 1: History of Logging
We booked a campsite in the Pog Lake Campground, which is around the mid-way point along the Highway 60 corridor, the main road that cuts through the park. Even though we visit Algonquin every summer, this would be our first time car camping here. K’s parents drove up earlier in the week, while we met them at the campground Friday evening. We were initially supposed to come up the day before, but there was a rainfall warning of up to 50mm of rain, so we decided to wait it out. While it mostly rained on the drive up, it thankfully subsided by the time we arrived at Pog Lake.
The forecast was calling for even more rain over the weekend. After checking in at the Park Office to pay for another vehicle permit, we first set up a tarp over the picnic table and then another one for our tent. We then got a fire going to cook dinner. Afterwards, we piled into the heated campervan and hung out there for the remainder of the evening until it was time for us to go to bed.
Everything felt a bit damp the next morning, but the sun was shining. I walked around part of the campground to check out the other sites and Pog Lake.
After eating a quick breakfast we drove out of the campground to go on a couple of short hikes. We started off nice and easy with the Spruce Bog Boardwalk (1.5km loop, rated easy). The trail is located right off of Highway 60 and follows a boardwalk through two northern Black Spruce bogs. The trail is short and sweet and is marked with thirteen numbered posts. It was a good way to warm-up for the day.
We then hiked along the Beaver Pond Trail (2km loop, rated moderate). The trail winds through the forest and provides nice views of a pond and Amikeus Lake, both of which were created by beavers. The trail involves a few ups and downs and rugged terrain, but it was pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. Along the way we could see signs of the leaves starting to change colour.
We continued driving towards the park’s East Gate. Our next stop was at the Algonquin Logging Museum, which consists of a 1.3km loop trail that summarizes the history of logging in the Algonquin area. The trail starts (and ends) at the Museum’s Visitor Reception Building.
Logging began in Algonquin at least 60 years before the park was established in 1893 and still continues to this day. Algonquin is the only designated provincial park in Ontario that still allows industrial logging, which is permitted in about two thirds of its borders.
The trail contains a number of exhibits to highlight the history of logging in Algonquin and how it has changed throughout the years. This includes a recreated camboose camp where the loggers would stay in the winter, logging equipment, a steam-powered warping tug (also known as an “alligator”) which was used to help move giant log booms across the lakes, a sawlog camp, and a real working log dam and chute.
Afterwards we headed back to our campsite to have a late lunch. It rained a bit in the afternoon, so we mostly hung out inside the campervan and played games for the remainder of the day. It was tough leaving the heated campervan at night to then crawl into our cold sleeping bags.
Day 2: Viewpoints
The next morning we started a fire to keep warm and cook breakfast on. We then went to hike along the Lookout Trail (1.9km loop, rated moderate). The trail involves a steep climb up a ridge and leads to a nice view of the surrounding area. Given how busy the parking lot was yesterday, we figured we should get an early start to avoid the crowds.
The path is wide and is signed with nine numbered posts. The first stretch involves a steady climb up a cliff. At the top there’s a large rocky outcrop that provides sweeping views above the Lake of Two Rivers. This gave us an even better glimpse of some of the leaves starting to change colour. The path then winds down the ridge and loops back to the parking lot.
We then drove to the Visitor Centre, which contains more information about the history and wildlife in Algonquin. There’s also a viewing here which provides a nice view into the valley below, and a replica fire tower cupola.
Afterwards we hiked along the Two Rivers Trail (2.1km loop, rated moderate). The trail winds through a young forest and leads to a nice view from the top of a cliff. Along the way there are ten numbered posts to assist with navigation.
On the drive back to the campground, we stopped at Whitefish Lake. It started to rain shortly after we arrived at the lake so we didn’t linger long. We raced back to the car and drove to the campground to eat some lunch. For the remainder of the day we played games inside the campervan to avoid the rain.
We initially planned to spend another night at Pog Lake. But the forecast was calling for more rain overnight and all day tomorrow. So we decided to leave early. We waited for it to stop raining to pack up our tent. We left shortly after dinner. As we were driving out of the park, it started to rain again.
Despite all the rain, we still had a good time. We were able to squeeze in a few shorter hikes when the weather was nice. While we didn’t cover as much distance we usually do and hiked at a slower pace since we were with K’s parents, it gave us an opportunity to slow down, see more along the trail and take lots of pictures. Plus it’s always nice to share our love of the outdoors with others.