Algonquin Park – lakes, forests and magnificent viewpoints

Categories: Travel reports, North America, Canada

On our way from Canada’s capital Ottawa to the Bruce Peninsula, we visited Algonquin Provincial Park halfway through, which has deciduous and coniferous forests, swamps, high rock faces and over 2,400 lakes. In the nature park we did two very nice hikes, where we had fantastic views of the landscape.

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Things to know about Algonquin Provincial Park

Founded in 1893, Algonquin Provincial Park is Ontario’s oldest natural park and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992. It is 7,725 km² in size and a popular destination for locals and tourists. The nature park offers a variety of opportunities for camping overnight stays, one- or multi-day hikes, canoe tours, bird watching, fishing and photography. The park is home to about 3,000 moose, 2,000 black bears, about 30,000 beavers, wolves and a variety of different bird species.

A map of Algonquin Provincial Park

Highway 60 runs for about 60 km through the southern Algonquin Provincial Park. On the road there are parking lots on the right and left hand side, which serve as a starting point for hikes, campsites, a visitor center and a lumberjack museum. Highway 60 can be used all year round, but parts of the nature park are closed to visitors in winter. So if you are planning activities far away from Highway 60, it makes sense to inform yourself in advance on the official website of the park about closed paths etc.

Around noon we drove from the direction of Ottawa over the East Gate with our rv caravan into the park.

Algonquin Park, Canada, Map, Map

A map of Algonquin Park in Canada

The Visitor Centre

At the Gate House we bought a day ticket for 21 CAD (about 15 EUR) and then drove to the visitor center. The visitor centre is open year-round and features an exhibition on the history of the Algonquin Natural Park, a theatre showing a video, a bookshop and a room where local artists exhibit their Algonquin-themed artwork. Especially beautiful is the viewing platform, which is located behind the building. From here you have a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape.

The Lookout Trail

Along Highway 60 there are a total of 15 signposted hiking trails, of which the Lookout Trail caught our eye. Our goal was to visit beautiful viewpoints in the park to have sweeping views of the Algonquin Park countryside.

The Lookout Trail is a 1.9 km loop trail that ends up being a bit steep and rugged, but has rewarded us with great views of several hundred square kilometers of natural park. When we arrived at the viewpoint, there was only a small group of visitors and no one else. For a while we sat down on a bench and enjoyed the fantastic view of nature. For the (not suitable for strollers) way we needed a total of only 45 minutes.

The Hardwood Lookout Trail

The second hike we did, we also chose by name. Because where there is a “lookout” in the name, beautiful views are guaranteed 🙂 We were able to park our motorhome directly at the starting point of the Hardwood Lookout Trail . First, the trail led through a typical Algonquin deciduous forest, before a beautiful view of Smoke Lake and the surrounding hills opened up shortly before the end. For the short, 800 meter long circular route, we only needed about 20 minutes in total.

What we found quite nice: At the beginning of each hiking trail there are hiking guides that you can take with you free of charge for the respective hike. Once you have finished your hike, you can put the guide back in a box or take him home for a donation of 0.50 CAD.

The beautiful lake landscape

The lake landscape is definitely one of the highlights in Algonquin Provincial Park, as there are over 2,400 lakes to discover. We have looked at some of the lakes from the shore, but there are other, diverse ways to discover the lake landscape. For example, the park offers a canoe trail network of over 2,100 km and is known for good trout fishing throughout Canada. Of course, all bathing enthusiasts will also get their money’s worth here, because the clear, clean water offers endless opportunities for swimming. All campsites and picnic areas also have designated beach areas.

Our campsite Algonquin Pines Campground

Around 7pm we arrived at Algonquin Pines Campground , which is just a few minutes’ drive behind the Nature Park’s West Gate. The family-run campsite offers just over 100 pitches in the middle of a pine forest and is prepared for tents, caravans and motorhomes of all sizes. There is also a camping shop, a mini golf course and a playground. We had already booked a campsite for one night in advance, so that we could go directly to our pitch after a quick check-in. This was “only” equipped with electricity & water; we simply drained the dirty water the following day at the designated dumping station. Actually, there should also be WiFi on the entire campsite, but this was very bad, so we had almost no Internet reception.

All travel reports from our camper round trip through Canada

Vacation with the camper or motor home in Canada - for many probably quite normal, but for us it was actually the first time. We have never been on the road with a camper, but always wanted to try it. In total, we drove almost 3,300 kilometers with our camper and explored beautiful regions and cities in eastern Canada.
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