Established in 1893, Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada. At 7,653 square kilometres, Algonquin Park is located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Ontario. Located near vast cities, Toronto and Ottawa, its location makes Algonquin Park one of the most popular parks in Canada.
Algonquin Park offers an exquisite natural view, with its lush environment and various forest types including deciduous trees. The park is famous for its interior camping, canoe camping, and overall unique wilderness experience. Algonquin Park has over 1,200 campsites in eight campgrounds that are accessible for camping in canoes or by foot.
With some of Canada’s best canoeing, the park gives you the chance to enjoy a canoe journey starting at Canoe Lake or Lake Opeongo. There is over 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes in the backcountry. In the summer, campsites can be accessed by hiking or canoe; in the winter it is possible to snowshoe and ski. Interior campsite reservations can be made through the Ontario Parks reservation system.
Algonquin Park contains a vast landscape of maple hills, rocky ridges, spruce bogs, and thousands of lakes, ponds, and streams. The park also includes summer camps such as Algonquin Experience Camp, a YMCA camp located on the north shore of Whitefish Lake, as well as Camp Pathfinder on Source Lake. With its stunning natural beauty and various sites, the park offers countless explorations and activities to relish.
Most campgrounds at Algonquin Park are located along Highway 60 corridor, which is around three hours north of Toronto. Conveniently, this is also where many of the hiking trails are located as well.
Achray Campground: Achray Campground is a beautiful, peaceful spot with beachfront areas and the option of choosing smaller campgrounds or larger ones with more privacy. This campground is ideal for both nature lovers and families visiting the park. Achray Campgrounds are usually quite busy and require reservations made well in advance. Located on Highway 17, 3.5 kilometres west of the Forest Lea Road, Achray Campground is open till late October.
Mew Lake Campground: Located near Highway 60, the Mew Lake Campground is the only one that remains open the entire year. It is well-suited for camping in late fall or winter. With large sites, and smaller trees, this is a great space to enjoy a quiet environment. Here, you can rent a yurt, and make use of the Old Railway Bike Trail, which leads to lakes and other trails such as Track and Tower hiking trail.
Lake of Two Rivers Campground: Lake of Two Rivers Campground is one of the larger campgrounds in the park, with over 241 sites – many of which are quite large. Some of these can offer much quiet, peace, and privacy. Lake of Two Rivers Campground is located along Highway 60, and next to the Madawaska River. It is a great spot for canoeing and going out onto the river to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The Two Rivers Store is also located at the campground, offering groceries, restaurant, supplies, and bike rental.
Rock Lake Campground: Located eight kilometres off of Highway 60, Rock Lake Campground is a great option for you to go canoeing on Rock Lake, and enjoy the beachfront.
The campsites here are small, and usually have a lot of campers in RV’s. This space is well-suited for you if you plan on canoeing or kayaking. The location is quite advantageous, being next to the lake.
Tea Lake: With 42 sites, many of which are small, Tea Lake is the first campground located from the West Gate along Highway 60. Tea Lake offers a serene calmness, with its cedar trees and waterfront view. Tea Lake is good for canoers as it is next to Canoe Lake and Smoke Lake.
Algonquin Park also includes campsites for larger groups. Whitefish Group Campground offers accommodations for organized youth and special groups for camping, including up to 40 persons. Any groups larger than this can still use the campground, but they will be split into smaller groups. Whitefish Group Campground features 18 large campsites, vault toilets, site seclusion, drinking water, and a 2 kilometre gravel road to the campground.
Along with eight campgrounds, Algonquin Park offers fourteen hiking trails. Algonquin Park trails are open the entire year for day hiking outings. Trail guide booklets are available for visitors through The Friends of Algonquin Park Bookstores. Each trail offers the chance to explore a different part of the park.
Hiking trails contain campsites that are located on the shores of small lakes. Some lakes have sites that can be accessed by both hiking and canoe. Some trails have self-guided exhibit panels available for guidance. Campgrounds can be accessed by vehicle and include facilities such as comfort stations with hot and cold running water, toilet and laundry facilities, and swimming beaches.
Brent Crater Trail is a 2 kilometre trial where visitors can explore the Brent meteorite crater – on of the most famous fossil meteorite craters in the world. Brent Crater Trail is located on Highway 17 on Brent Road, 32 kilometres south.
Algonquin Park provides excellent wildlife viewing possibilities. Animals commonly seen include moose, deer, beaver, and loon. Black bears and otters can be seen seldomly, and wolves can sometimes be heard.
Algonquin Park has over 1,500 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams, containing 54 species of fish. It contains some of the finest Lake Trout and Brook Trout in the world. Holders of valid Ontario fishing licenses are allowed to fish by purchasing daily or seasonal vehicle permits.
With its multiple headwater lakes and rivers, Algonquin Park is an excellent place for fishing. Lakes along Highway 60 offer great fishing spots and have regulations in place to prevent overfishing. Due to the remote location, lakes located in the backcountry are not common spots.
Algonquin Park has several outdoor activities that make it a year-round attraction. Algonquin Park Visitor Centre was opened in 1993, to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the park. Visitors can enjoy exhibits detailing the cultural and natural history of the park here. The Centre includes a detailed map that displays the geography of the park, a gift shop, art gallery, video theatre, and an outdoor viewing deck. There is also a restaurant and bookstore. The Centre is open all year round.
Located at the east gate, the Algonquin Logging Museum features a 1.3 kilometre trail with a logging camp and equipment. Visitors can learn about the park’s logging history here. The museum is open seasonally, and features events such as “Logger’s Day” – a festivity that includes musicians, forest industry representatives, and children’s activities.
The Algonquin Art Centre showcases brilliant work by Canada’s wildlife and wilderness artists. Annual exhibits take place at the Centre that display art about Canada’s wilderness parks. The park offers various programs such as Natural Heritage Education programs, and the “Public Wolf Howl”, an informative event on wolf ecology.
Contributing Authors: Sharmeen Abedi