Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park is Canada’s oldest designated park. It was established in 1893 and has been expanded many times since then. It is currently 7,653 square kilometres (2,955 sq mi), covering an area larger than Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island.
The park marks the unofficial border between northern and southern Ontario. To the north of the park are coniferous forests. Trees typically called ‘evergreens’ are predominate, including pine, fir, cedar, etc. They bear needle-like leaves that don’t shed in the fall. South of the park are the deciduous forests. These are made up of a mix of trees but mostly those that shed their leaves in the fall such as maple, elm, and oak. Algonquin Provincial Park is the point where the concentration of each type switches; more coniferous trees to the north, more deciduous to the south. This mix means a gorgeous display every fall when the leaves of the deciduous trees start to turn yellow, orange, and red.
Algonquin also has over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 km of creeks, streams, and rivers winding their way through the park. There are extensive marshlands nestled between the cliffs of Canadian shield rock. This incredible landscape has inspired many artists, including the Group of Seven.
Get Back to Nature
Getting in touch with nature is easy at Algonquin Provincial Park. It often seems as if the wildlife comes out to pose for photographs. The park is home to a huge number of animals, with 53 species of mammals, 272 different birds, 31 reptiles and amphibians, and over 1,000 types of plants. Just don’t forget the bug spray or some of the 7,000 species of insects may turn you into lunch.
Of course, there are the ‘big ones’ that everyone hopes to see when in Algonquin Provincial Park. moose, red-tailed deer, black bears, red foxes, great snowy owls, and timber wolves. I’ve been lucky enough to see almost all of them, photographing a few of them.
Activities for Everyone
Algonquin Provincial Park is well known for camping. Whether you are into drive-up car camping or backcountry backpacking, Algonquin is one of the best. Much of the park is only accessible by canoe and by foot. A determined backpacker can get so far into the park that you can go days without seeing other campers. As a child, I would canoe and camp the park with my grandfather and have experienced this myself.
If you’re more of a day hiker, there are lots of trails, for all levels of ability, within the park, including two that are wheelchair accessible. The park also offers hunting and fishing in designated areas and at certain times of the year.
Now, I’m not much of a cold weather and snow type of person, but there is a wide network of skiing and snowshoeing trails in Algonquin Provincial Park. You can also try your hand at dog sledding if you’re really adventurous.
If you want to camp or take a day trip, visit the Algonquin Provincial Park website to learn more. There are also a number of tour operators available for guided tours and activities, including equipment rentals.
Other trails that I’ve hiked in Ontario, Canada include: