A Refresher Course if You Will

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Happy May 1st!  THE ICE IS OUT!!!  The long weekend is not far away and for some of us (although not me) that means the first trip of the season is close at hand!  Algonquin Park has updated it’s advisory with regards to opening up the back country and Hwy 60 campgrounds.  The update is as follows:

  • Open on May 2nd: Tea, Kiosk, and Achray campgrounds in addition to Mew Lake (year-round).  As well, permits will be issued for the Western Uplands and Highland Backpacking Trails.  Be advised there may be flooding in some areas.
  • Open May 6th:  Permits will be issued for interior canoe trips except for Kingscote (southern tip) as there is a washed out culvert making it inaccessible at this time.
  • Rock Lake and other areas are expected to be open on time for May 10th.
  • http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/news/2014/spring_2014_update.php

With the camping season starting and the long weekend close at hand, it may be time for a quick refresher course on the rules of the campgrounds….especially the ones pertaining to alcohol bans during the season.

  1. Keep the volume of the music and your voices at a respectable level.
  2. Drinking Alcohol is only permitted while on your designated campsite.  You are not allowed to walk around with it.
  3. Take note that 30 parks have an alcohol ban from the second Friday in May until Victoria Day.  Other parks  may include other long weekends like July 1st and Labour Day.  Please check with your park
  4. It is against the law to destroy or remove anything from Provincial Parks.  I have seen people evicted for cutting down trees for firewood.  
  5. Make sure that you have a vehicle permit in your car at all times and one on your campsite post
  6. The maximum stay is 23 days in a year
  7. Pets must remain on a leash and under control.  Take note of the no dog signs
  8. Only 6 people allowed per site
  9. Campfires must be contained within the fire pit 
  10. No firearms or fireworks allowed
  11. Please clean up after yourselves.  This environment is on loan to us and we must take care of it to ensure that it’s around for years to come!

Some parks may have more specified rules than others!  Have fun as we dip our paddles into the lakes this summer and enjoy our times with friends and family.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Travel Options – Revisited

Courtesy of Parkbus

Courtesy of Parkbus

Travelling to any Provincial Park is difficult if you don’t have a car at your disposal.  I’m one of those people who rely on other forms of transportation when it comes to getting into Algonquin.  Even though we don’t have the option our ancestors and Tom Thomson did years ago when it comes to getting into Algonquin Park, there are still a few options available to those who don’t have a car.

  1. Park Bus:  The Park Bus is THE BEST travel option.  Since I posted about it in 2012 the Parkbus has gone on to expand to a variety of parks and their schedule takes you in almost whenever you want to go.  The Park Bus takes you to various points through out the HWY 60 corridor.  This is the schedule and stops that the Park Bus makes:
      TORONTO – ALGONQUIN
    T1 York Mills   7:00 am
    T2 30 Carlton Street 7:30 am
    T3 Dufferin and Bloor 7:45 am
      ALGONQUIN – TORONTO
    A6 Lake Opeongo 1:30 pm
    A5 Pog Lake 1:50 pm
    A4 Lake of Two Rivers 1:55 pm
    A3 Canoe Lake 2:10 pm
    A2 West Gate 2:25 pm
    A1 Oxtongue
    Wolf Den
    2:35 pm
  2. Ontario Northland:  Since I’ve posted this you are only allowed to take the bus now to Huntsville.  You can then take a cab into the park from there…be warned it is an expensive option unless you have family/friends in the area.
  3. Greyhound:  You can take the greyhound to Maynooth which is at the south east tip of the park.  There is an outfitter there (Algonquinbackpacker.com) that offers daily shuttles into the park.

Overall the Park bus is your best option.  You are not able to take Canoes on the bus but it does stop at Algonquin Outfitters on Opeongo Lake where you can rent canoes as well as the Portage Store.  The bus will also drop you off at two campgrounds: Pog Lake and Lake of Two Rivers.  Two Rivers has a store on site so you can grab any groceries that you need like your perishable foods.  I hope this helps you try to find the best way into the park this summer…I plan on riding the Park Bus again this summer!

~Enjoy your trip

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Park Helper Program in #AlgonquinPark

Have you driven down Hwy 60 and wondered what those Children’s Programs signs are all about?  Or maybe you’ve seen the buttons hanging in various locations around the park?  These are for the Park Helper Program.  This is a way for your child(ren) to learn about being environmentally responsible for the nature around them.

What exactly is the Park Helper Program?

This is a program that helps keep our campgrounds, beaches, and campsites clean.  Designed for kids, this program usually takes place 3 times per week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) at campgrounds and beaches through out the Hwy 60 corridor.  The locations are announced in the This Week In Algonquin Calendar that hangs on all the information bulletin boards in the campgrounds and museums.  Families can then take their kids to these locations and they help clean up the campground or beaches with others and the program leader for the day.

What does your child get after completing the program?

Your child(ren) will get a badge every time they complete one of the programs.  I think this year I saw 4(?) different ones for them to achieve.  They are the Clean Campsite, Clean Beaches, Clean Campground, and the Good Camper, which they receive after getting all the other badges.  The badges change every year but this is what they look like:

2013-07-12_1373638302

I have participated in this program numerous times and I have probably close to 10 sets of badges?  At one time they also had a bottle cap collector badge.  The badges that I posted are mine.  This program is a lot of fun!  It keeps the kids busy, gets them interacting with other kids, and helps them learn about keeping the park clean so that their kids can enjoy it in the future.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Parkbus Review

This weekend I had to travel to Algonquin via The Parkbus from Toronto.  I was beyond impressed!  Typically I travel up north via Ontario Northland…it used to be by train but now they only use busses.  The trip is so long and not that comfortable.  Parkbus however is the exact opposite.

First off, finding your stop isn’t very hard.  They have three within Toronto to make it extremely easy.  The stops are York Mills, Carlton & Yonge, and Dufferin & Bloor.  I got on at Carlton & Yonge which is right outside of the Holiday Inn.  When the bus pulled up we were greeted by a bus volunteer named Norman!  He was organized, polite, and made sure that everything was taken care of.  After we got out of Toronto (which took a while due to construction) it was a peaceful and relaxed ride up to Webbers where we stopped for Tim Hortons.  During the trip Norman chatted with passengers about their journeys and made you feel welcome aboard!.

The second half of the trip was just as nice and comfortable!  I really enjoyed learning about people’s trip plans, talking about the park history with first time trippers, and learning about the other passengers.  The trip was versatile so you were pretty much able to be dropped off whereever you needed.  On the way there I got dropped off at Algonquin Outfitters and on the way back I got picked up at Canoe Lake.  It was refreshing to be able to travel with other people who share the same passion and desire for the park and the outdoors that I have.  Parkbus has also added on to their experience by putting food bins in each of the campgrounds in Algonquin for those who take the bus and have no cars to store their food!

Norman was a great volunteer!  He really knows his camping stuff and his knowledge about ultra light camping was impressive!  He is very knowledgeable about backpacking especially when it comes to the backpacking in the States!  He got to know all the passengers and found out about their trips and made sure any questions they had were answered.  On the way back he raffled off a bunch of stuff like Parkbus shirts and a couple of Jeff’s Maps!

Overall it was a great experience and I look forward to riding it again.  Who knows…maybe I’ll get a chance to volunteer this summer :)!

~Enjoy your Trip!

Day Trips

If you are heading into the park this summer you may know that there are a ton of things to do while there including hiking, biking, swimming, and canoeing.  One of the options you have is a day trip by canoe or hiking.  Most of the lakes along the Hwy 60 corridor connect to other lakes via portage.  There are also 2 backpacking trails and 4 interpretive trails that you can do a day long trip on as well.  Below you will find the trails and canoeing suggestions that would make great day trips.

  • Western Uplands Backpacking Trail:  From the parking lot to Maggie Lake is 11km and will take roughly about 5 1/2 hours one way.  If you are up for the challenge then you can go that far.  However there is another lake before that called Maple Leaf Lake.  There are campsites around the lake that you can have lunch at and relax before heading back.  
    • trip4mp

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Highland Backpacking Trail: You can kind of cheat this trail in a sense based on where you start.  Instead of starting at the trail parking lot…you can access the trail from Mew Lake….where the sign for the Track and Tower trail is.  Be warned…there are parts of this trail that are fairly steep and can be difficult to hike if you aren’t in good shape.  Start hiking on the Track and Tower trail from Mew Lake.  You will come to an intersection on the trail…if you go strait you continue on the Track and Tower Trail if you turn left however you will be on the Highland Trail.  You are going to come to a bridge beside a set of falls.  If you want your trip can end here and you can swim in the falls all day.  Or you can continue on the trail to the West side of Provoking Lake.
  • Track and Tower:  This trail is a 7.7km loop with a 5.5km side trip to Mew Lake.  Remember that parking lot at Mew Lake?  If you wish to only do the 5.5km section you can access it here.  It takes you along the old railway bed.   The 7.7km loop is located down the road from Hemlock Bluff and Cache Lake.  The trail is long and will require you to take a lunch.
  • Centennial Ridges:  This trail was created for the Centennial of the park back in 1993.  This is a 10 km hike with several steep cliffs and climbs.  YOU MUST BE IN GOOD SHAPE FOR THIS HIKE.  The hike itself is described as a walk through the parks history.  This trail will definitely take all day so you will need to take a lunch and lots of
    water.

972472-Centennial_Ridges_Trail_at_Algonquin_Park_Algonquin_Provincial_Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Booth’s Rock Trail:  Booth’s Rock is 5 Km of education on how we have impacted the past, present, and future of the Algonquin Environment.  The average person can do this trail in a couple of hours but it’s pretty easy to stretch it out over the course of the day.  There are a few really nice lookouts and a great swimming area at the beginning/end of the trail at Rock Lake.  This trail can be a little rough while climbing up to the lookout areas but it’s not too bad. 
  • Mizzy Lake Trail: If you are looking for a great day trip that has the great possibility of seeing wildlife.  Mizzy Lake is an 11 km trail.  The chances of seeing wildlife are increased if you go early morning.  We used to hit this trail at 6am and be done around noon.  This is a great option for people looking to see moose or beaver.
  • Smoke Lake to Ragged Lake:  This is a great little day trip for families who may be taking the kids on their first “canoe trip”.  The portage between Smoke and Ragged Lake is fairly quick and easy.  From the portage you can then paddle around Ragged Lake and even go to Parkside Bay.  There are plenty of beaches and sites where you can eat lunch at.
    Algonquin - Ragged Lake Map - Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pog Lake to Rock Lake:  This trip is partially paddled on sections on the Madawaska River and Whitefish lake.  I love this trip.  It’s quiet, relaxing, and pretty.  You also have chances of seeing some wildlife like heron’s and beaver.  You can have lunch along the way at Whitefish or wait until you get to Rock Lake.
    trfr4000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this gives you some ideas on what you can do with the family while staying in the park.

~Enjoy your trip!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Over the course of the last few years I’ve gotten a lot of questions regarding a large variety of topics.  This post is dedicated to your questions.

1.  Where in Algonquin can I get basic supplies?

If you are looking for the basics like bread and milk or condiments then you have a couple of options within the park.  You can go to the Two Rivers Store or the Portage Store.  If you are in the park for an extended stay then you can go to either Whitney on the east end or Dwight/Huntsville on the west end.

2.  Can I rent a bicycle in the park?

Yes you can!  You can rent a bike directly from the Two Rivers Store.  The store is located at the end of one branch of the bike trail which makes it easy to get to.

3.  Is the park open year round?

Yes!  If you wish to camp then you can camp at the Mew Lake Campground.  The campsites are first come first serve basis unless you wish to use a Yurt which you need to reserve.  You can use the interpretive trails and the backpacking trails.  The Visitor Center is also accessible during the winter.   Algonquin also has two ski trails that you can use.

4.  I camp by Parkbus is there a way to get around?

If you came by Parkbus and you are camping along the corridor you have very little options for getting around.  If you feel up to it you can bike along Hwy 60…be cautious however because the Hwy is very busy.  The other option is by calling a cab from Whitney.  Be prepared as this will cost you a lot of money.

5.  Best time to see wildlife?

A camper once asked a ranger (at my campsite) what time they let the wildlife out.  Without missing a beat the ranger looked at his watch and replied “Oh in about 5 minutes”.  The camper ran back to their car and took off.  Though the wildlife isn’t let out at a certain time, there are a few good times to see wildlife.  First is during the spring run off.  The wildlife is drawn to the side of the road for the salt from the roads.  Early Summer at dusk and dawn is another good time to see wildlife.  Most people go out for a drive at dusk while camping to “moose watch”.  The other good time to possibly see wildlife is the fall during the rutting season.  

6.  Are there restaurants located in the park?

The park has 6 restaurants located along Hwy 60:

  • Killarney Lodge – Lake of Two Rivers
  • Bartlett Lodge – Cache Lake
  • Portage Store – Canoe Lake
  • Arowhon Lodge – Joe Lake
  • Two Rivers Store – Between Mew Lake Campground and Two Rivers Campground 
  • Visitors Center – Across from Spruce Bog Boardwalk

7.  Is there any lodging available for those who may not be into camping but wish to enjoy the park?

If you aren’t into camping and want to stay somewhere with the comforts of home you have a few choices both in the park and outside the park:

  • Arowhon Lodge
  • Bartlett Lodge
  • Killarney Lodge
  • Couples Resort (Whitney)
  • Blue Spruce Resort (Oxtongue)
  • and many other options.

8.  Can I get a canoe rental at my campsite?

Yes.  The Portage Store offers rentals at all the campground beaches.  Check your beach bulletin board for the times.  As well Opeongo Outfitters (not affiliated with Algonquin Outfitters) will also deliver canoes to the campgrounds.

9.  Are there ATM’s located within the park or is there interac service.

Both!  There is an ATM at the Visitor Center and at Two Rivers Store.  The park also has Interac available.

10.  Is there internet or cell phone survice within the park?

Surprisingly the internet question is one of my more popular ones.  There is no wifi service within the park except in the Visitor’s Center.  There is however cell service.  The cell towers have about 3km of service so you may have really good service in one part of the park but then in another part you have a dead zone.  

11.  Are the beaches in the park patrolled by lifeguards?

No.  You swim at your own risk.

12.  How will I know there is a fireban?

You can check out the Friends of Algonquin Website (www.algonquinpark.on.ca) as well here on my blog.  You can also follow the friends of Algonquin Park on Facebook.

13.  What are Radio-Free Zones?

Radio Free Zones are a section of a campground where radios and pets are not allowed.  You are allowed personal mp3 players or radios as longs as they have headphones.  

I hope these answer some of your questions as you think about booking your trip into the park!

~Enjoy your trip

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Walking Through the Past

Algonquin has a vast history beginning long before it became a Provincial Park.  Though human history is very little before the 1800’s, the land was scattered with various family groups of Native’s.  They hunted, fished, picked berries and lived within Algonquin’s borders.  When the logging boom hit is when we start to see more information about Algonquin’s human history.  The tales of the logging camps is told through exhibits and Logging Day’s at Algonquin’s Logging Museum.  The human history is also displayed throughout the Algonquin Visitor Center.

The Logging Museum is a fascinating walk through the past where you have the chance to “become” a logger for a day.  You start out at the bookstore where you get to watch a brief  video about logging in the park and how it has changed drastically from the 1800’s.  I’ve included the youtube video below (From http://www.youtube.com/user/FOAPAlgonquinPark):

Once the video is done you proceed through a big garage door that takes you out onto the circular trail. This is where visiting the Logging Museum during Logging Days (July 27 10am-3pm) is great because there are actors portraying various aspects of logging whether it is in the camboose shanty or down by the log chute.  The trail allows you to explore at your own pace.  It is a great activity for families as there are exhibits that the children can experience.  Not going to lie….I always go and explore the Alligator and the Locomotive engine :).
Another way to explore the history of Algonquin Park is by walking through the Algonquin Visitor’s Center.  Not only does the Visitor’s Center teach you about the natural history of the park in regards to the life cycles of the flora and fauna, it also walks you through the human history.  With exhibits such as a look at the Highland Inn and a celebration of the camps that have long been a part of the Algonquin landscape, the museum offers you a rich educational but fun experience.  On site at the Visitor’s Center is a bookstore that provides you a chance to sink your teeth in some books about the faces/spaces of Algonquin’s history.  I mean what is a trip to Algonquin without a day of sitting on the beach reading?
We’ve talked about the museums that you can go and visit but did you know you can get a mini history lesson on the many hiking trails along the Hwy 60 corridor?  Each trail provides you with a booklet (at one time they were 25 cents) that describes either the history, ecology, or an interesting fact about the trail.  The Big Pines Trail, across from the Rock Lake Access Road, is a walk through the history of the logging camps and giant white pines.  It even has a fenced off old logging camp.  Spruce Bog Boardwalk provides a look at the ecology past and future of Algonquin.  Booth’s Rock takes you along J.R.R Booth’s old railway bed.
Another spot that is fairly recent (probably no more than 4/5 years old) is at the Cache Lake parking lot.  This interpretive area allows you to explore the original park headquarters as well as the footings of the Highland Inn.  You are transported back in time as you see the old railway ties, steps leading up to where the Inn once stood, and walk along the old railway bed.  As well, if you are interested in the railroad history of the park you can bike/walk along the old railway bed from Rock Lake to Mew Lake (Cache Lake extension is coming).  Along the way there are signs posted that will tell you about the history of that area.  There is on particular spot that I like by Whitefish which is the remnants of an old lumber mill…you can’t walk up to it but it’s pretty cool!
booth-rail
I hope that this has given the history buffs a chance to see where they may “discover” Algonquin’s history.  I’m hoping to get up to the Park still on Mother’s Day weekend.  As well, in case you didn’t see my Facebook or Twitter post, I’m looking for Parkbus testimonials/reviews for an upcoming article that I’m writing.  If you wish to contribute please email me through the link at the top.
~Enjoy your trip!
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