I recently took a backcountry canoe trip in the Interior of Algonquin Provincial Park, in Northern Ontario. Check out my video and trip notes of the highlights.
Algonquin Provincial Park is by far one of my most favorite parks for a good, back to basics adventure. I’ve explored several trails in the park by foot but barely scratched the surface. Since most of the park is made up of waterways and lakes, it made sense to plan my next adventure in Algonquin by canoe and venture into the “interior” of the park, as they say.
Despite Algonquin’s popularity, its trail and lake systems are so expansive; you can find yourself in a place so remote that you can escape the crowds and enjoy a slice of wilderness for your own. Venture off the main roads and put your canoe in the lake, paddle past the day crowds and soak in the silence so you can unplug from city life.
Only this year, I’ve started to add backcountry canoe trips to my repertoire of adventures. Usually I hike, but there is something pretty great about putting your paddle in the water and navigating the backcountry by canoe. It takes an adventure to a whole other level. I’m no stranger to canoeing, and I’m certainly no stranger to backcountry camping adventures. However, I didn’t have a lot of experience putting the two together. This type of trip has its own unique set of challenges; like hauling my gear and the canoe through portages and obstacles, and navigating the lakes and river systems in any kind of weather. Algonquin is a great place for beginners to get their feet wet (but hopefully not their gear) in the art of backcountry canoe trips. For beginners, there are a variety of popular routes with short portages which are easy to navigate. The portages are well maintained, clearly posted and campsites are obviously marked.
I have found all of the campsites in the interior to be outstanding. Whether you plan to venture from lake to lake for a multi-day adventure, or just want to paddle into the interior to make a base camp and enjoy the sights and sounds of Algonquin, it’s always worth the bit of extra effort to get off the beaten path to get back to basics in this wilderness paradise.
I recommend getting a good map before you start to plan your trip. Jeff’s Map is basically the bible for backcountry adventures for Algonquin. I used it to help me plan a quick weekend getaway (my nature retreat!) in Algonquin’s Interior. For a holiday weekend, the backcountry was surprisingly quiet and peaceful once we made it away from the first access lake. I think of Algonquin as a “choose your own adventure” type of park. You can plan a quick overnight, or a insanely long journey deep into the park. Either way, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time.
These are the details for my quick weekend getaway:
Access Point: Canoe Lake @ the Portage Store (rented canoe here).
Route: Canoe Lake –> Joe Lakes –> Burnt Island Lake –> Return via same route.
Campsites: Western Joe, Burnt Island Lake
Difficulty Rating: Beginner -Short portages over easy terrain. Several smaller lakes make for easier paddling. Windy/Rainy conditions on Canoe lake and/or Burnt Island Lakes make for a long, difficult paddle on these large lakes.
Pros: Great swimming spots, fishing, secluded campsites, beautiful lakes and waterways. Night sky over Burnt Island lake was one of the most brilliant I’ve ever experienced.
Cons: The campsites were quiet because they are widely spaced, but the portages can get backed up the closer you are to the front-country lakes. Pack your patience for busy weekends or aim to head deep into the interior to escape it.
Trying backcountry canoeing has opened up another door to a new world of adventure and I’ve really enjoyed it!!! Algonquin’s impressive canoe system is the perfect place to see where your canoe and your adventurous spirit will take you.
Stay tuned for a post about tips and tricks to plan a backcountry canoe trip.