We were half way through to the end of the lake while canoeing when we figured that we would be intercepted by a thunderstorm. We started paddling back for the shore using all the strength of our arms and legs. Half-way and we seemed to be out of breath already. The clouds were all over us and we could hear the thunder that seemed to burst our eardrums and lightening that was reflecting all over the dark water making us squint. The storm seemed just a few moments behind us almost catching up. Drawing on our last repertoire of energy, we continued paddling and touched the shore almost at the same time as the first burst of downpour hit us.
And then there was thunder and lightening the magnitude of which we had not heard and seen before, as if the nature was really peeved at us for escaping its wrath in the nick of time.
It was August and we, as one of a fleet of 7 canoes, were paddling and exploring the attractions in and along Canoe Lake at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario.
a few words About the park
With its 7,653 sq. Km of area and features that include a very diversified flora, fauna, landscape features, and natural, cultural and geological history, this Park would easily qualify as a national park in any other country. Due to its proximity to the population centre of southern Ontario in general and Greater Toronto Area in particular, it is one of the most visited parks in Ontario.
If you have little children and dogs in your entourage then these are the 10 family and dog friendly destinations in the Park that I have explored on several occasions in the company of my family, nieces and nephews, cousins and their families, and our Hungarian Kuvasz, K2 (read here for more information about Kuvasz dog breed). I have listed them in the order of traveling on Highway 60 corridor from the west to the east.
1. brunch at Tea lake picnic grounds
The Tea Lake is located at 8.1 km on north side of Highway 60.
Since the Tea Lake Dam picnic ground came soon after we entered the Park, we decided that it was a good spot for having a brunch. The fall season scenery, although it was a week after peak fall colours, was still beautiful. The younger folks in the entourage and K2 decided to play games to stretch themselves.
The dam was located on the Oxtongue River at the end of the picnic grounds.
2. paddling at canoe lake
Since this section of Highway 60 traverses northward as opposed to the general eastwardly direction, Canoe Lake exit comes at 14.1 km on the west side and you have to drive a short distance on a narrow paved road to reach the outdoor fitter by the lake where rental canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, etc. are available.
This is our favorite destination with people of all ages in our entourage, including children. Since K2 is not a water loving dog, he is always left behind on the shore.
3. sweaty hike on peck lake trail
The Peck Lake trail is located at 19.2 km on north side of Highway 60.
We were an entourage of over 20 cousins and families, who hiked on this trail. The 1.9 km trail meandered around the Peck Lake periphery through a serene surroundings dominated by a coniferous forest. Hiking on this trail seemed to be ‘Moderate’ level.
I hiked with K2 on a 4 meter (12 feet) leash and held on to it in a manner that it could be released as and when needed in cases either K2 or I slid down the slope. Luckily, we did not as I played with the length all the time, asking K2 to be behind me when going down the slopes and ahead of me when going up.
4. observing exhibits at algonquin art centre
Algonquin Art Centre is located at 20 km on south side of Highway 60.
We found the Algonquin Art Centre a world-class art gallery showcasing Canada’s foremost wilderness and wildlife artists both inside the building and outside. Built upon a long tradition of artists in Algonquin Park, the Centre puts on annual exhibits that explore the connections between artists and Canada’s wilderness parks.
We walked on the pedestrian walkway outside to see the exhibits about Tom Thomson, the naturalist and artist.
5. hiking on hemlock bluff trail
This Trail is located at 27.2 km on north side of Highway 60.
On a pleasantly warm day of summer 2017, our entourage hiked on a ‘Easy’ trail through a grove of towering eastern hemlocks and to reach a cliff overlooking Jack Lake.
Personally, I was in a pensive mood and was reflecting on the strength or weakness of the rocks we were standing on.
6. lunch at mew lake
Mew Lake is located at 30 km on south side of Highway 60.
We stopped by the Mew Lake beach and picnic grounds for having our gourmet lunch in the summer of 2019. Since we were a group of over 20 cousins and our families, each of us had brought our family favorites as part of a potluck. Food was spread while the children played ball. K2 enjoyed sniffing the grounds.
7. Pog lake and car camping
Pog Lake is located at 36 km and comes on the south side of Highway 60.
There are a number of campgrounds in the Park. If you have first timers, children and / or dog(s) in the group then I would recommend booking a campsite along highway 60. For car camping, Pog Lake appears to be the best.
We had our car camping here on the long weekend in October 2021. Unfortunately, we had everything going wrong. It was raining and because of the peak season for fall colours, the Park and the camping area was over-crowded and noisy.
We put up our tents, nevertheless, prepared and ate lunch, had our tea, and went for a hike along the lake.
8. Hiking on Big pines trail
Big Pine trail is located at 40 km on north side of Highway 60. Several pines on this trail are 230 years old.
Except at the beginning where some hiking families with kids were returning, my son, nephew and I were the only people on the trail in October 2021. We covered the 2.9 km trail under adverse conditions. It was raining cats and dogs, we had to make our way through muck and water puddles, the rocks were slippery, and the roots of the tree protruding above the ground due to thin soil were hidden by fallen leaves.
9. immersing in activities at the vistor centre
The Visitor Centre is located at 43 km on south side of Highway 60 and is the best such centre in any Ontario park.
We found the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre to have classy exhibits on the Park’s natural and human history, a relaxing restaurant and an excellent bookstore. There was a spirited and a sprightly theatre presentation going on that summed up the Park story, followed by question and answer session.
Finally, we went out to the viewing deck from where we could see a breathtaking panorama of wild Algonquin landscape.
10. hiking on beaver pond trail
Beaver Pond Trail is located at 45.2 km on south side of Highway 60.
With an entourage of 7 people, we hiked on this trail that reportedly offers a better wildlife-viewing. Hikers occasionally spot moose and eastern wolves on this trail, but because of the size of the hiking group, we were not lucky.
On a more recent occasion in October 2021, my son, nephew and I paid another visit to the trail under a heavy downpour. The water level in the pond had risen high such that it oozed out above the boardwalk as we walked on it.
gear that we carried for hiking and camping
For the 3 days of a hectic car camping, hiking, and sightseeing at Algonquin Provincial Park, the neighbouring Arrowhead Provincial Park and Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park, and several other waterfalls and parks located in the Muskoka region, we carried the following items from LTA Club gear received over a period of time:
- Head lamp
- Wear and tear stick on
- First aid kit
- Energy drinks and bars
- Camping egg container
- Cooking utensils
- Classic camp mug
- Avventura Bamboo bottle
- Water bladder
- Plastic shirt wrap
- Drymesac multipurpose towel
- Avventura outdoors air mats (2 in #s)
- Self-inflating camp pillow
- Camping blanket
- Solar lantern
- Mosquito zapper lantern
- Battery powered lantern
- Compression sack
- Avventura camp axe
- Foldable camp saw
- Avventura multi-tool (kitchen)
- Avventura wide-angle flash light
- Shower system
- Water bucket
- Bed liners
- Tarp: We have used this piece in a variety of ways
- Snowflake multi-tool
- Accessory carabiners
- Survival Frog tough Tesla lighter 2.0
- Tough Tesla Lighter
- Avventura Kitchen Stowaway foraging bag
- Cherry BO2MB Energy drink
- Avventura outdoors campsite kitchen kit
- Camping cookware with kettle
- Collapsible stick stove
- Trail-running gaiters
- Survival trowel
- 26m 550 Paracord
- RVIITA Energy tea
- Seven Summit Snacks
We also carried duct tape and cabin slippers.
Until our next blog, cheers! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!