Camping in a Yurt in Algonquin Provincial Park

Length of stay: 3 days
Visited: November 2022

Algonquin Provincial Park is the first provincial park that was created in Ontario and it’s also one of the largest parks in the province. It features a series of interconnected lakes, rivers and creeks that create one of the best places in Ontario to explore the backcountry by canoe. The Highway 60 Corridor cuts through the southern portion of Algonquin and contains a number of campgrounds, access points to the backcountry, and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing.

We booked a yurt at Mew Lake Campground, which is the only campground open year-round in Algonquin, for a few days in the middle of November. We drove down Thursday night and arrived at our site just before 10:30p.m. Our yurt was open and the keys were on the table inside. Our yurt came equipped with furniture, including two bunk beds that sleeps up to six, and a table with five chairs. The yurt also had lighting, a few electrical outlets and a propane fireplace.

Once we unpacked, which mostly just consisted of us taking out our sleeping bags and pillows, we set the thermostat for the fireplace and went to bed.

Day 1: Bogs and Boardwalks

There’s a circular skylight in the yurt, so we got up with the rising sun, or rather, when it started to get light outside since it was overcast and cloudy. After eating breakfast, we set out to embark on a hike. The forecast was calling for 5-10mm of rain in the afternoon and evening and we had zero interest in hiking in the rain. We decided to hike the Mizzy Lake Trail (11km loop, rated moderate) in the hopes of spotting some wildlife. The trail passes by nine small lakes and ponds and contains a few boardwalk sections. The trail is well marked with a series of blue circles on the trees, along with thirteen numbered posts.

The trail starts off through the forest and the path is a bit rocky with a few hilly sections. As we passed Mizzy Lake, there’s a long boardwalk section that hugs part of the shoreline.

The trail then reaches a junction that also contained a map of the area. The Mizzy Lake Trail continues to the left and the Weldwood Road (which the map indicated was now closed) is to the right. We continued along the trail, which overlaps with part of the old road. For the next few kilometres, the path is relatively wide and flat. We hiked through a valley and then along a causeway between West Rose Lake.

According to the map, at post #5 there’s a detour that leads to the bear’s nests. However, there was a sign on the post to indicate that no black bear nests are visible at this time. Since the detour adds an extra 4 km round trip to the hike, we decided to skip it.

After passing Wolf Howl Pond, the trail becomes more rugged and rough. There were a lot of ups and downs and we had to crawl under, hop over or walk around a number of fallen trees. Progress was slow. And we were out of shape. It’s been awhile since we’ve been hiking. We came across a bench on a short boardwalk section by post #11 and figured this was a sign from the universe for us to take a break, and so that’s what we did. From there, we still had another couple of kilometres left. Thankfully there were a few more boardwalk sections to take a break from navigating over all the roots and rocks and fallen trees. After passing Dizzy Lake, the end was in sight.

Overall it took us 3.5 hours to complete the Mizzy Lake Trail. By the time we wrapped up, we were feeling a bit sore and tired, so we drove towards the East Gate to take a break. We stopped at the Visitor Centre to hike the Fire Tower Trail, a short trail along a boardwalk that leads to a replica cupola, a wooden lookout structure that was located at the top of a fire tower. There were a few interpretive signs that explained that fire towers were constructed in Algonquin, starting in the 1920s, to help identify forest fires. At least 23 fire towers were built throughout the park. The use of these towers ended in the 1970s when forest fire detection by aircraft was determined to be more efficient and cost effective.

We then hiked the Spruce Bog Boardwalk (1.5km loop, rated easy), which visits two separate bogs. After crossing the first bog, the trail weaves through a spruce forest before leading to the second bog. The trail is super easy to navigate as it mostly follows along a boardwalk, and there are nine numbered posts and blue circles marked on the trees.

We returned to our yurt to eat a very late lunch and to bunker down for the rest of the afternoon. P, K and E were planning to come down later in the evening to spend the rest of the weekend with us in the yurt.

Day 2: Lookouts and Logging

After eating breakfast, we went for a hike along the Track and Tower Trail (7.7km round trip, rated moderate). The trail winds through the forest and leads to a lookout over Cache Lake. The trail is signed with blue circles on the trees and contained thirteen numbered posts. Along the way there were some notable points of interest, including a dam, several small cascades and a portage that provides access to Cache Lake.

To get to the lookout over Cache Lake involved climbing up a series of staircases to the top of a ridge. The path then leads to a clearing on a rocky outcrop, which provides sweeping views of the surrounding area. This trail is reputed to be especially popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. All the leaves have long since fallen at this point. But on the plus side, we had the trail mostly all to ourselves.

The trail loops back to the set of stairs. After meandering through the forest, the trail overlaps with part of the Railway Bike Trail, which leads to Mew Lake Campground. This part of the trail was wide and relatively flat. The path then branches off and weaves deeper into the forest. There were a few sections that were hard to navigate as all the fallen leaves had obstructed the path, but we managed to make it back to the parking lot.

It was really starting to cool down and we were getting hungry. We returned to our yurt to make a hot lunch and to warm up by the fireplace. We headed out later in the afternoon to visit the Algonquin Logging Museum, which showcases a series of exhibits that explain more about the history of logging in the park. At the start of the museum, there’s an indoor exhibit, which was closed when we visited. The real highlight of the museum however, are the outdoor exhibits. There’s a short trail that loops through the forest and passes 20 exhibits which contain a series of old logging equipment and buildings that explain more about logging in the area and how it has evolved over time.

Logging has been an important part of Algonquin’s history and began in the area at least 60 years before the park was established in 1893. Algonquin is the only designated provincial park in Ontario that still allows industrial logging, which is permitted in about two thirds of the park.

The one downside to visiting Algonquin so late in the fall is that it gets dark so early. It was also getting noticeably chilly outside, so we headed back to the campground. According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to plummet to -8°C overnight. We sure were happy to be staying in a heated yurt. To warm up, we made some B52 mixed in with coffee and topped with some whipped cream. We spent the remainder of the evening indoors playing games.

It started to lightly snow later in the evening, which marked the first official snowfall of the season.

Day 3: Some Snow

We slept in a bit later than usual. After eating a hot breakfast, we packed up our stuff. We were supposed to check out of our yurt by 10am, but by the time we actually headed out, it was just after 10:30a.m. Whoops. It was cold outside and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground.

Before heading home, we decided to go on a couple of hikes, starting with the Big Pines Trail (2.9km loop, rated moderate). The trail winds through an old growth forest of eastern white pines and passes the site of an 1880s logging camp. The trail partially lived up to its description. While we saw some tall towering pines, we didn’t really see any remains from the old logging camp. There were a few areas that were fenced off, but we couldn’t see much, just a bunch of leaves, more trees and some fallen branches.

As we continued our drive towards the East Gate, we stopped again to hike along the Hardwood Lookout Trail (0.8km loop, rated moderate). The trail weaves through a typical Algonquin hardwood forest and leads to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking Smoke Lake. The path is short, but super steep in places. It was a good workout before the drive back home.

On the way out of the park, we stopped at the Information Centre to check out the swag and say our goodbyes. It was then time for us to head back home and return to the daily grind.

L

90 thoughts on “Camping in a Yurt in Algonquin Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Our parks in Ontario have become insanely busy the past couple of years and we’re so over the noise and the crowds. Instead we’ve been visiting the parks during the off-season and staying in some of the roofed accommodations like yurts and cabins. It’s going to be tough to pull out the old tent again, but for now we’re enjoying glamping in comfort and style. The yurt in Algonquin was very spacious and it surprisingly stayed warm once we had the fireplace turned on. Good to know that there are some yurts out west, we should check those out!

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  1. Ab says:

    Algonquin really is a fantastic park. So much to explore after all these years. I think I’ve said before that staying in a yurt there is on my bucket list. One of these days!

    Loved seeing the different trails in the fall time. Must be so nice without all the bugs. We always as tradition do a night hike through Spruce Bog Trail. I recommend it. Quite a different experience than daytime. 😆

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. There’s a good reason we keep returning to Algonquin every year. And despite visiting so often, we’ve only explored a small fraction of the park. Booking a yurt (or cabin) in Algonquin is fiercely competitive. It took me many months to finally snag something over the weekend. It was one of the nicest yurts we’ve stayed in and surprisingly very spacious. Hopefully you’re able to cross it off your bucket list someday. It’s a really fun experience.

      And you and your night time adventures! The Spruce Bog Trail is one of my favourites, even though it’s super short and easy. I imagine it’s a completely different experience to do a night hike. Sounds spooky!! We’ll see if I’m brave enough to give that a whirl the next time we’re camping in Algonquin along the Highway 60 Corridor.

      Hope you’re enjoying your time off and are staying warm from this crazy weather. I can’t get over how windy (and cold) it is! Only one more sleep until Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ab says:

        Thanks Linda. The time off is just flying by. I hope you and K had a nice Christmas. Our family dinner on Christmas Eve got cancelled cuz of the bad weather and having a quieter Christmas this year was honestly a nice change of pace. 🙂

        I bet you both snuck in a hike somehow in this crazy weather. 😆 Happy holidays and enjoy the time off this week!

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Sorry to hear that you had to cancel some of your Christmas plans because of the wild weather. It turned into a three-day storm with all that wind, blowing snow and freezing cold temperatures. It was a struggle just to go outside to try shovelling some of the snow! Most of our family lives nearby, so we didn’t have to change any of our plans. But it’s been four days in a row of family gatherings. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be hungry. We have no plans for today, which I’m looking forward to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. alisendopf says:

    The yurt experience sure is something special. It’s ideal in the winter and so cozy. I imagine they are booked months in advance?

    What is a bear nest? Sounds ominous 🤣 Hopefully all your black bears are in bed by now.

    Algonquin Park is so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

    I can appreciate your hiking experience – surely this must be over by now? 🤣

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve been exploring more of our parks during the off-season to avoid the crowds (and the bugs). Staying in some of the roofed accommodations like a yurt or cabin has been such a luxurious camping experience. Booking them over the weekend can be extremely competitive though, especially at Algonquin. It took many attempts to finally snag something.

      I’m not sure why they are even called nests as the bears don’t actually sleep there. It’s apparently just a cluster of twigs and branches up in a tree that the bears have discarded after they’ve finished eating the nuts or leaves off of them. It would be pretty neat to see a bear in the process of creating one of those nests, but then again, I’d be totally freaked out. So it’s probably a good thing that they were in hibernation when we visited in mid-November.

      Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season so far and are all warm and staying safe from this massive winter storm!

      Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        Alright! I’ve never heard of a bear nest, nor seen one. Perhaps your trees are better suited for them to lounge and eat in peace up there? I’m glad you got to see them!

        Our winter storm has finally broken, and we are now into plus degrees. This was my second bout of -30 weather this winter so I’m pretty glad it’s done.

        I heard you are in for it again! I am so sorry to hear that. My daughter is at Trent, so she experienced the first storm. They shut down the university and cancelled exams. I personally think calling a Snow Day is a great idea. Alberta would never do that, but it just causes way more trouble than if everyone just stayed home for one day and let the crews do their work.

        I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Stay warm, and enjoy your friends and family.
        Alisen

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Glad to hear that the wild winter storm is over in Alberta. We had three days of snow, freezing cold temperatures, and crazy winds. Some areas got hit much harder than others and even lost power. Thankfully we were fine and still able to visit with our family over the holidays. It’s supposed to warm up here as well over the next few days. While I’d prefer the snow to stay, I’m so over the cold. Agreed, a snow day (or rather days) would be most welcome! Enjoy the rest of your holidays as well. We’re counting down the days until our next adventure. We’ll be heading to Utah in less than two weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • alisendopf says:

        Utah! Awesome! Have you been before? I was only there once years ago to do a 5 day canoe trip in Moab. It’s beautiful. Enjoy, and I can’t wait to see your photos.

        Stay warm! I know what you mean about being so over the cold. Take care, Alisen

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I’ve never been to Utah before. I was a bit hesitant to visit in the winter as there is less daylight and some of the roads and trails are closed, but the plus side is that it should be quiet and cooler. As much as I complain about the cold, I’ll take it over the sweltering heat in the summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        So far it’s been great. It’s been a bit chillier than we expected, but I’m so glad we packed our microspikes as we’ve had to use them a couple of times as some of the trails at higher elevations have been icy. We did Angels Landing in Zion a couple of days ago and that has been a real highlight. We’re currently in Bryce Canyon (I love all the snow covered hoodoos) and are heading towards Capitol Reef today.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Staying in a yurt was a very comfortable camping experience, especially so late in the fall when it was starting to get colder outside. It was quite spacious, warm and had great lighting. There’s always something so magical about the first snowfall of the year. I’m glad we were someplace special like Algonquin to enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    So wonderful view of eternal earth and gorgeous nature 🌹👌
    All stunning photos , the Forest’s beauty , the water can see
    Red rocks, the huts,and awesome fall trees are no leaves
    Welcoming winter and dear your beautiful travel explanations 👌👏
    Grace wishes and Merry Christmas 🌲💐❤️

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. The scenery in Algonquin is spectacular. The park was pretty quiet when we visited late in the fall and we mostly had the trails all to ourselves. It was very peaceful. Merry Christmas to you as well and enjoy the rest of the holidays. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It was such a fun experience to stay in a yurt in Algonquin. It was surprisingly quite spacious and warm inside. There was also a big skylight in the middle of the roof which let in a lot of light, so it didn’t feel dark or dingy or anything. It was a comfortable way to camp in the off-season and still enjoy the trails.

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  4. thehungrytravellers.blog says:

    Just sitting right beneath the aircon here in Panama trying to cool down a bit before we head out for evening meal, then I read your post about sleeping bags, lighting fires, hot drinks to warm up and a light covering of snow and it all feels a bit surreal! Sounds like really enjoyable hikes though, made more picturesque by that light covering. Great pictures of babbling streams too (not the first time I’ve made that comment on your posts – you capture those shots so well).

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. I’ll trade you the cold for the heat. It’s currently -10C here (and feels like -18C with the wind chill). We just got hit with a snowstorm a couple of days ago and wicked cold temperatures. But hey, at least we’ll get to enjoy a white Christmas!

      I find the first snowfall of the year so magical, so it seemed fitting that we got to enjoy it at Algonquin. The hiking was incredibly scenic and it was nice to return to a heated yurt afterwards. It was a very peaceful weekend adventure.

      Enjoy the rest of your time in Panama and have a Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kagould17 says:

    A heated yurt looks like the perfect solution for that time of year. Glad the rain and snow did not slow you down. Always a good idea to know when the bad weather is coming and adjust our hikes accordingly. You managed to cover a lot of territory. You are right, boardwalks over rough or wet terrain are a Godsend. Thanks for sharing Linda. Happy almost Friday. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Staying in a yurt is a very comfortable way to camp in the off-season and still enjoy the trails. Plus the park is much quieter in November after the rush of crowds to see the leaves changing colour. The only downside is that the trails can be quite sodden and muddy that time of the year. But I’ll take that over the bugs and crowds! Thanks for reading and have a Merry Christmas! Cheers. Linda

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of trails with a boardwalk too, especially over a marshy area. It’s a nice way to enjoy an area that otherwise would have been inaccessible to us hikers. One of the best parts about visiting so late in the fall was that there were no pesky flies or mosquitoes around to bother us.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It was a glamorous way to stay overnight in the park and not have to worry about the cold. The yurt was quite spacious and comfortable. We’ve been to Algonquin a number of times and there’s still so much of the park we have yet to explore.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It was nice to get away for a long weekend and enjoy the remaining days of fall. Staying in a yurt was a very comfortable way to camp, especially since it was a bit chilly outside. All we had to do was bring our sleeping bags and pillows.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Little Miss Traveller says:

    A fun trip and the heated yurt looked well equipped and cosy. Interesting to follow the boardwalk trails and learn about the history of logging in the area. I’ve never heard of a B52 drink before but looked nice and warming!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of trails with storyboards that add some education in with our exercise. The logging museum in Algonquin 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. I also really enjoyed the Spruce Bog Boardwalk even though it was super short and easy. I just can’t seem to get enough of bogs and wetlands. A B-52 includes Baileys Irish cream, Grand Marnier and coffee liqueur. We mixed these in with some coffee to help warm us up after spending the day outside on the trails. It seemed to hit the spot.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Even though it was late in the fall and all the leaves had already fallen off the trees, the landscape still looked beautiful. The forest was so peaceful and quiet. It was nice to have some boardwalk sections to hike across as the ground can get a bit wet and muddy during that time of the year.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! Visiting Algonquin in the off-season definitely has its perks in terms of the trails being quieter. I highly recommend staying in a yurt. They are surprisingly spacious and quite comfy. They are insanely popular though and can be hard to book over a weekend. We were hoping to spot some wildlife, but unfortunately had no such luck.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Camping in a yurt was such a fun experience. Even though we were visiting late in the fall and the temperature was a bit chilly, we stayed nice and warm by the fireplace inside. It surprisingly let it a lot of light from the huge skylight in the ceiling. The Logging Museum was very well done. It was a fun way to learn more about the history of logging in the park and how it’s changed over the years. It sounds like it was (and still is) hard work.

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  7. usfman says:

    Yurts seem like an enticing way to camp in the wilds. I will be looking that option on our next road trip through the American Northwest. November seems like a nice time to try this option to deal with the cold.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Staying in a yurt was a huge upgrade from camping in our tent. We were visiting late in the fall, so it was nice to have a fireplace inside to keep us warm, along with electricity and furniture. All we had to do was bring our sleeping bags and pillows. The nice thing about visiting in November was that the park was super quiet and we had the trails mostly all to ourselves. The days were shorter though, so we had to make the most of the limited daylight, but I’ll take that over dealing with the crowds.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. We typically visit Algonquin every year and there’s still so much of it we have yet to explore. It’s also neat to see how the landscape changes through the different seasons. Staying in a yurt was definitely such a comfortable way to camp during the off-season. We stayed nice and toasty inside by the fireplace. Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season so far. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  8. leightontravels says:

    What an adventurous autumnal/wintry break. I’ve always wanted to do the yurt thing and yours looks really cosy. Some wonderfully moody skies and vistas, were the trails as deserted as they look in your photos? The Logging Museum is very cool. I know what you mean about being out of shape. We went on a short hike yesterday and were thoroughly knackered after 5 weeks indoors watching the World Cup.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The yurt was surprisingly very spacious and fit the five of us quite comfortably. It’s a great way to extend our camping season into the fall without having to worry about the cold or the weather. The nice thing about visiting so late in the year was that the park was pretty quiet and we mostly had the trails all to ourselves. That’s just how we like it. We definitely need to get outdoors more, especially after feasting around the holidays. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Staying in a yurt was a nice way to camp during the off-season when it’s much cooler outside. We stayed nice and warm and didn’t have to worry about the weather (or animals). We’ve really pampered ourselves by staying in these roofed accommodations that it’ll be tough to return to our tent next summer.

      The weather has been a bit wild here in Ontario, mainly with the cold and wind. Thankfully we haven’t had to do much driving as our family lives pretty close by. It’s supposed to warm up in a few days and all our snow will likely melt. No complaints. I’m just glad we got to enjoy a white Christmas. Hope you’re enjoying the holidays as well. Take care. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Algonquin is certainly a great spot to go hiking as there are a lot of options depending on difficulty and length. We typically come here at least once a year and there’s still a few trails we have yet to explore. It’s especially scenic in the fall when all the leaves are changing colour. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Algonquin is one of the best spots in Ontario to explore the backcountry by canoe because there are so many interconnected lakes, rivers and streams. We typically come canoeing here every summer. It was nice to shake things up and explore some of the trails. Staying in a yurt was a great way to camp comfortably in the off-season.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Staying in a heated yurt is a great alternative to camping in the off-season and enjoying the quieter side of the park. We certainly made the most of the trails. It was very satisfying to sit by the fireplace in the evening and have a hot cup of tea.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Algonquin is one of my favourite parks to enjoy nature. One of the real advantages to visiting in the off-season is that the park is typically quiet, which means we don’t have to stress about finding parking or encountering crowds on the trails.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jmankowsky says:

    Sounds like a wonderful (if a bit exhausting) weekend. I’ve never stayed overnight in a yurt. Compared to plain camping, it must feel like livin’ large, yes? Would you stay in them again?
    Cheers,
    Julie

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh yes, it was quite the luxurious camping experience to stay in a heated yurt instead of our tent, especially since it was late in the fall and the nights were cold. We even got some snow on our last night. I would definitely stay in one again. It was surprisingly quite spacious and did a pretty good job of retaining the heat.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. wetanddustyroads says:

    A yurt – that’s a new word to me … but I like the look of it. Hmm, I’m not so sure that I want to go close to a bear’s nest 👀. Your first hike was quite long … and yet, you continued onto more trails! Brave Canadians! And wow, you had a beautiful hike on the second day – love the view of the small cascades. I was wondering what B52 is (had to google it) … and I think it’s right up my alley – love Kahlua! And some lovely pictures of the world dusted in some light snow on your last day!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was our first time staying in a yurt. We’ve been trying out different types of roofed accommodations in our provincial parks to extend our camping season into the off-season. It sure helps that it had a fireplace inside which kept us nice and toasty warm (as did those B52s … they are very delicious, especially with coffee and whipped cream). We definitely put our bodies to work by exploring some of the hiking trails in the park. It’s been awhile since we’ve been hiking and it felt nice to just be outdoors. Plus the trails were pretty quiet, which is always a huge bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

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