Sunday, 24 July 2016

Canoeing Algonquin Park

I returned on Saturday from a very busy but enjoyable canoe and portage trip through Algonquin Park.  My friend and I were gone for six days and during that time we covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of amazing sights.

Our Route (distance by water taxi not included).  Red dots indicate our campsites.
We left early Monday morning and arrived in the park around mid morning.  We planned to take a water taxi across Lake Opeongo to allow us to cover as much ground as we could in the time we had.
Water taxi ready to go.
The ride was rather rough as we bumped over the waves and about 20 minutes later we arrived at the far end of Opeongo's north arm.  Upon being dropped off, we re-organised our packs for easier carrying.  We had 73 lbs of supplies to carry along and we wanted to make it as easy to transport as possible.  With the bags ready to go, we set off on our first portage.

The portage dropped us off at Proux Lake for the first night and I was immediatly captivated by the stillness and serenity of the lake.

We made our camp for the night on Proux.

And made sure to hang our food sack up high.  It would really have messed up our plans for a bear to have raided our supplies.

This family of common mergansers swam along the edge of our camp that evening, providing some great views.

We started bright and early the next morning paddling through winding marshland.

Along the way, we found numerous birds including a family of black ducks and one of wood ducks.  A beaver appeared near the canoe briefly which was great to see.  The songs of hermit thrush, white-throated sparrow and common yellowthroat rang out in the morning air.

A fire tower on Big Crow Lake caught our attention.

We flushed a ruffed grouse as we walked over to the tower.  I watched a kestrel doing its aerial acrobatics as well.
We took our first decent length portage from Big Crow to Hogan, a distance of 3.75km.  We arrived at Hogan early afternoon where we had lunch in the canoe and watched the loons swimming around us.
Later on in the afternoon, we paddled past a bald eagle being harassed by a crow.  It is a bit blurry, but I found it difficult to hold steady in a rocking canoe.
The next morning dawned cool and foggy from our camp on Philip Lake.  We heard splashing and my friend saw a moose and her calf wading along the far side of the lake.  However by the time I got looking, they were out of sight and I did not see them.

We continued up the winding Little Madawaska River, stopping to portage occasionally.  An american bittern flushed up in the marsh as we paddled and ravens croaked around us.  I found a garter snake along one of the portages, but not much else of note.

We spent our third night at our farthest point on the trip, at Radiant Lake.The next morning we headed down the Crow River.
Eastern Painted Turtle
We spent our fourth night on a beautiful island campsite on Lake Lavielle.  Connecting lakes Hardy and Dickson are closed to camping due to a blue-green algae bloom, but much of Lavielle remains open and we were glad be be able to stay there. 

Big red pine.
The next morning we headed on to our final campsite on the East Arm of Lake Opeongo.  Passing through Hardy Bay and Dickson Lake, the water had a murky green look to it, likely due to the algae blooms.  Our longest portage of the trip (and the longest in the park) was a 5.3 km portage from Dixon to Bonfield.  It actually went better than I expected, likely because we were getting more used to that type of physical activity.  By mid afternoon we were back on Lake Opeongo where we camped on a small island on the East Arm.  We enjoyed the sound of an overnight thunderstorm from the comfort of the tent and by early morning were ready to paddle out back to our starting point and back to civilization.  The trip was quite a workout, but was a great experience.  Algonquin has so much to offer and sometime I hope to return again.


  1. A nice trip indeed. Thanks for sharing you experience in one of my favourite parks!

    1. Thanks Blake. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.