Algonquin Provincial Park in the Fall

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, so 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 the Highway 60 corridor 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) which 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 and stopped to check out 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 platform behind it, 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), which 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. We didn’t stay long as it started to rain shortly after we arrived at the lake. We ran back to the car and drove to the campground to eat some lunch. We spent the remainder of the day playing 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 and 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.

L

72 thoughts on “Algonquin Provincial Park in the Fall

  1. kagould17 says:

    Well worth the return trip in the fall Linda, both for time with parents and for the scenery. Love the misty morning lake shot, a favourite time in my day by the lake and the 5th last and 6th last shot. Some real fall beauty there. Next time, get the parents to rent a bigger camper, so you can all stay warm and cozy. 😁 Happy Sunday. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was nice to finally visit Algonquin in the Fall to see the leaves start to change colour. I was surprised at how busy it was despite the weather. We could have actually slept in the campervan, but I think it was in everyone’s best interest for us each to have our own space! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The wonderful thing about Algonquin is that there’s something here for everyone and the scenery is beautiful regardless of the season. I have actually never been to Algonquin in June before, largely because I imagine the bug situation would be out of control. We typically go every summer the first weekend in August.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We’ve been talking about visiting Algonquin in the Fall for years, so I’m glad we finally followed through as the scenery was beautiful. It was interesting camping with K’s parents, but I’m glad they had a heated campervan as otherwise we would have been miserable in the afternoon and evening when it rained.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ab says:

    Algonquin Park is a gorgeous park. So massive and so much to explore. I wonder if the reason it is so massive is because it was the first provincial park created and the later ones were made smaller? I still haven’t explored much of it after all these years.

    We always camp at the Lake of Two Rivers ground and it’s a great site. The canoeing and swimming are so wonderful in the summer. I would love to explore it in the fall one day.

    A camper van would be such a great experience to have one day. If you don’t mind me asking, where did your in law rent it from? Something we may be interested in doing one day.

    The trails you did look wonderful. Another one we love returning to is Booths Rock which has a fantastic lookout.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know what you mean. Even though we visit Algonquin every year, there’s still so much of it we have yet to explore. It’s too bad they don’t make provincial parks as big as Algonquin as land is such a hot commodity these days. I worry that camping will only get more competitive and crowded.

      I would totally return to Algonquin in the Fall. Next time we’ll have to check out the Lake of the Two Rivers campground. I heard that Booths Rock is a beautiful trail. We’ll have to add it to the list for next time too.

      K’s parents booked their campervan from Canadream. It was a bit pricey, but we made good use of it given the weather.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Happy first day of Spring! Summer is around the corner. 😊

        Thanks for the Canadream info. Will have to check it out one day – maybe for next summer!

        And I hear you, camping will be an even more crowded and busy activity this summer as things open up and people are still reluctant to travel far.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        No kidding. It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of March. I’m really enjoying the nicer weather (although it’s supposed to be chillier and rainy for the rest of the week) and hearing all the birds chirp. It’s definitely starting to feel (and look) like Spring.

        We are taking a break from camping in Ontario this summer and are planning to explore both the east and west coasts of Canada. I can’t wait.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Your summer plans sound amazing and I can’t wait to read all about it. It’s time to venture outside of Ontario and how exciting indeed!!!

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  3. salsaworldtraveler says:

    This park seems to be one of the larger ones. These are plenty of trails with interpretive signage to take you through the terrain and the logging museum too. This is a park I definitely would enjoy visiting.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The amazing thing about Algonquin is that there are so many different lakes, access points, canoe routes, trails and campgrounds. We’ve been coming here for years and each time we try stay at a different spot. This was our first time visiting in the Fall and it was nice to experience a different side of the park. The logging museum was very well done and a great way to learn more about the history of logging in the park and how it’s changed over time.

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  4. John says:

    Wow, this is a very beautiful park! I love the gentle contours of the landscape and forest colors. It’s unfortunate that the rain was so often tough.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve been coming to Algonquin for years, but this was our first time seeing the fall foliage. The amount of rain we got that week was brutal. I’m glad that we managed to get in some blue skies and sun, which always makes hiking so much more enjoyable. I’m also glad K’s parents had that campervan so we had somewhere warm and dry to retreat to during the rain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John says:

        The van was a blessing! The leak-proof roof and the engine heater, perfect. Vans and cars can become a home away from home in weather like that.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. It makes me want to buy a campervan now. It just seems much easier and a great way to extend our camping season into the fall and spring. And we’d never have to worry about setting up (or taking down) our tent in the rain!

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  5. TowardsZEROAccident says:

    Ontario Park. Seems great place to must visit physically.
    Marvelous photos showing the beauty in woods, water, sky….. nicely captured💯. Bench with a calming lake in front……really a fantasy place💫🏵

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  6. ourcrossings says:

    This has to be one of the most beautiful parks that I’ve seen on your blog, Linda! The views over the treetops are stunning and so are the white, fluffy clouds! I’m glad to hear you had a great time 🥰 thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva xx

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. There’s a reason why we keep coming back to Algonquin every year. It could take a lifetime to fully explore the park. The scenery is beautiful and there’s a bit of something here for everyone. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Third Culture Kid says:

    I find it interesting to go to places that have a history of logging like near Fort Bragg in California have a lot to offer. My Dad also knows a lot about logging in Montana. He worked in the Forest Service during his summer vacations while at university

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. It’s always nice to spend time in nature. I’m glad we had some periods of sun in between the rain to go out and explore a few of the trails. Take care and have a good day. Linda

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I didn’t really know what to expect as K’s parents have never been camping before. Plus the weather wasn’t looking the greatest with all that rain on the forecast. But it turned out much better than I thought it would. It was nice to spend time together and to share our love of Algonquin and all things outdoors with them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s nice to see how the landscape changes throughout the different seasons. We visited a bit too early in the fall to get the full experience with the leaves changing colour, but the scenery was still very beautiful. K’s parents loved the campervan and are still talking about our trip to Algonquin. They are dropping not so subtle hints that they’d like to go camping with us again this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bama says:

    One of the things I want to experience in my life is seeing autumn foliage in person. The closest thing to this was when I went to Japan in October 2016. But since it was only the beginning of fall, the leaves hadn’t really changed their colors. I imagine how magical it must be to see what was a few weeks earlier green now turning yellow and red.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ontario and Quebec are known for their stunning display of fall colours. The fall is my favourite time of the year to hike as the forest looks beautiful with all the yellows, oranges and reds, the temperature is a bit cooler, and there are no bugs. Hopefully you’re able to experience the fall foliage in person someday.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      All of the major trails in Algonquin have a big sign at the trailhead that contains a map of the trail and a brief description of what to expect. I am terrible with navigation, so I appreciate a trail that is well-signed.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I love how calm and peaceful the lake is first thing in the morning. One of the reasons that I love waking up early is to have have these quiet moments to myself when it feels like the rest of the world is still asleep.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was neat to learn more about the history of logging in Algonquin and how it has changed over time. I was surprised to hear that logging is still permitted in the park even today. I’ve always enjoyed a trail with a scenic overlook, even if it does require a bit of a workout to get to, as it’s a great way to get a good view of the surrounding area.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Even though it was a rainy weekend, I’m glad we enjoyed some blue skies in the sun during our hikes in the morning. It was nice to see the leaves start to change colour and I can only imagine how much more beautiful the landscape is during the peak of fall.

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  9. Diana says:

    Despite the fact that many leaves were still green, I can see how this place would offer incredible fall colors. And I liked the contrast of blue sky and the many leaf colors.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We visited a bit too early in the fall when the leaves were just starting to change colour. The scenery was still very beautiful, but next time I think we’d try to go towards the beginning of October. The only issue is that it’s typically cooler then, which can be tough when camping, especially if it’s rainy.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. wetanddustyroads says:

    I’m always amazed to see how beautiful the reflections are in the water! I love the idea of the “open air” museum. And how beautiful are the fall colours on some of those trees – just a stunning sight! You have so many beautiful photo’s in this post – if I lived close by, I would certainly have loved to visit this park (when it isn’t raining too much 😉).

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a good reason why we typically visit Algonquin every year (sometimes even more than once). It’s such a big park and there’s still so many lakes and trails left to explore. I’m glad we had some moments of blue skies and sun between all that rain. The landscape looked lovely and it was nice to see some of the leaves start to change colour. The logging museum was very well done and it was interesting to learn more about the history of logging in the park.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love how the lake is usually so calm and peaceful first thing in the morning. It felt like the whole word was still asleep. Even though it was a rainy weekend, I’m glad we made the most of it and even managed to squeeze in some great hikes.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. We’ve been to Algonquin many times over the years, but this was our first time visiting in the fall. We had such a wonderful time that we’re thinking about returning again this year, but perhaps a few weeks later to see more of the leaves changing colour. Now that travel restrictions are easing, it should hopefully be easier for you to visit (and for us to come down south)!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. alisendopf says:

    Ooohhhh… I can see why it was Ontario’s first park. Gorgeous! So nice of you to book it for your in-laws. Sometimes people just need a little nudge.

    You have really packed a lot into your September. I’m impressed!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We slept more nights in a tent than we did in our own bed in September. The fall is actually my favourite time of the year to go camping as I find it’s (typically) less busy, it’s not nearly as hot and humid, and there are no bugs. It was nice to visit Algonquin when the leaves were just starting to turn colour and to share that experience with our family.

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      • alisendopf says:

        LOL! That’s a great way to measure an amazing month – time in tent vs time at home. Well done!

        I agree – September is awesome for traveling. I was in Austria end of September and we had the place to ourselves.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We certainly had our fill of camping over the last two years during the pandemic. We’ve camped in a few yurts this winter and it’ll be hard to go back to a tent.

        That’s amazing that you’ve been travelling. Austria is such a beautiful country and how lucky to visit without all the crowds of tourists. We were there a few years ago and spent some time in Vienna and Salzburg. I wish we could have stayed for longer.

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      • alisendopf says:

        It was a great time for camping and getting to visit some places without the international tourists for sure. We are already have a tonne of tourists from the US and Europe here. Amazing how quickly it bounces back.

        Yurts would be lovely. A private spot with all the comforts.

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Sounds like a wonderful experience. It’s always nice to not have to deal with the crowds. I imagine a lot of people are going to travel this summer after not being able to over the past two years. We certainly are. Based on the fact that I had to wait almost an hour to reserve campsites at Banff and Jasper when the Parks Canada reservation windows opened, I’m not surprised to hear that it’s already busy out west.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad we managed to catch a glimpse of the leaves starting to change colour. I’m typically an early riser and I love how quiet and calm everything is first thing in the morning. It’s also a great strategy to get up early to avoid the crowds. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

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