Algonquin, situated in Ontario’s near north, is approximately a 4.5-hour drive from Toronto. The park itself is 2900 sq mi (7600 sq km) and offers some of the most satisfying wilderness vacationing in Canada. Sitting on the Canadian Shield, Algonquin is a wonderful mix of rocky shorelines, loon-filled lakes, windswept pines, lush bogs, rolling rivers, and maple-topped hills. Much of the interior is so peaceful and misty it feels as if the rest of the world has simply vanished. With the exception, of course, of the animals. The park is full of such wildlife as deer, beaver, black bears, and, in abundance, moose. In August, and this is worth noting, staff at Algonquin take visitors on expeditions in which park naturalists exchange howls with the neighborhood’s timber wolves. Bird watching and fishing are also favorite activities at the park.
There are basically two ways to take in Algonquin: either in the park’s isolated interior or, more comfortably, along the 35-mi (56-km) corridor of Hwy 60, with its lodges and modern campsites. If you are at all open to roughing it, you must choose the former approach. Cars will take you a short distance in, but essentially the interior of the park can only be explored on foot or by canoe; there are innumerable challenging backpacking trails and 937 mi (1500 km) of canoe routes in Algonquin. Even during the park’s busy summer months the visitor will have no difficulty finding areas of the interior which he and his companions occupy exclusively. And if you so desire, the interior does offer four campgrounds, though they provide no modern amenities. Important to note: there are more than a dozen outfitting services right inside the park which rent and sell equipment as well as offer advice on how best to enjoy the area.
The Parkway corridor, along Hwy 60, offers a less challenging vacation. Stateof-the-art campsites and even luxurious lodges are available with virtually immediate access to the wilderness. The trails are less demanding and the rivers and lakes therefore attract a larger crowd of people.
But a wilderness experience can still be had. For a long hike travel 9 mi (15 km) in from the park’s west gate to a hiker’s delight, Mizzy Lake Trail. The 7-mi (11-km) trail passes through numerous ponds and lakes, with plenty of good opportunities to see wildlife. A good short hike, the Peck Lake Trail, can be found just a short distance east on Hwy 60. This short trail circles the lake and gives the hiker a quick education in some the park’s ecology.