Although not as well known to foreign visitors to Canada as some of the National Parks, Algonquin Park is one of the largest and most popular parks in Ontario for a hiking holidays. Located a 3 hour drive north of Toronto it offers excellent campgrounds, canoe trips into back country and some wonderful hiking along its numerous trails.
Although there is excellent accommodation in the park itself we normally stay at Oxtongue Lake in cabins or the Wolf’s Den Hostel just outside the entrance.
You will require a car to get around the reach any of the 14 trailheads along Highway 60 which crosses the southern part of the park for 56 kilometers.
There are 140 km of backpacking trails in the interior of the park with designated campsites which need to be booked in advance.
Some of my favorite trails for day hiking:
Centennial Ridges Trail – is listed as a 10 km strenuous hike with spectacular viewing along two high ridges. While I didn’t find it too difficult there is a lot of ascents and descents and you need to take care due to the numerous roots crossing the trail. The view of the park from the ridge is awesome. Remember that you are hiking on the Canadian Shield so expect lots of rocky terrain with small lakes and ponds.
Mizzy Lake Trail – is a 11 km moderate hike which visits nine ponds and small lakes so expect to be on wet ground and boardwalks for a portion of your hike. This hike provides some of the best chances to see wildlife and native plants. Due to the terrain this is a slow walk so expect to take all day.
Track and Tower Trail – is a 7.7 km moderate looped trail which features a spectacular lookout over Cache Lake. There is an optional 5.5 km side trip following an abandoned railway to Mew Lake.
Besides hiking and canoeing you may wish to visit the Visitor Centre, Logging Museum and Art Centre. The park staff offer a number of activities including the Wolf Howl every Thursday in August. On the one occasion I joined in a large crowd had gathered in the evening the amphitheatre for a short film and briefing. We then got in our cars and followed the park staff down a logging road until they stopped and a staff member howled waiting for a response. While no wolf howled to the bait that night I have heard them on other trips to the park.
You may also see other wildlife during your visit. However if visiting in the spring you can see Moose by the roadside as they come along Highway 60, attracted by the road salt. And yes I have seen black bears roaming in the park as well. Also nothing beats listening to the sound of a loon as it glides across the lake, a true sound of the north.
Click on the link to check out other popular hikes. A hiking holiday in Algonquin provides great trails, opportunities to see wildlife and amazing scenery.