Algonquin Park – The Holiday Adventure

As many of you have likely figured out by this point if you’ve read any of our recent posts, Algonquin Park holds a dear and special place in our hearts. More mine than Lynn’s, I think, but nevertheless a place that we’ve come to love and to explore for decades.

Having said that, what better way to take a day during vacation time and make a day trip and a long one to Algonquin Park.

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Heading out of the “old homestead” around 7:30am, we started our holiday adventure, including a breakfast “stop n’ go” in Gravenhurst and arrived in the park, somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30am

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For those wondering, the bugs(including mosquitoes and black flies) were still as obnoxious as they were the week before. Hordes of mosquitoes eagerly awaiting a fresh supply of blood to satisfy their parched souls.

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Heading up, we didn’t really have a set agenda in mind once we got there. The only “planning” was “let’s hike as many of the trails we haven’t yet, and then see what happens.”  Kind of a plan, but flexible enough to work for us.

One reason for this approach was due in part to the bug situation. Many of the trails we hadn’t hiked yet, were shorter in length. We figured if the bug situation became intolerable, it would be better to know that you may have only 30 minutes left on a trail, compared to realizing that you are now 3 hours into a hike and are only half done.

With that in mind, off we went. For those who follow us, you know that Lynn tends to take “a lot” of pictures when we’re out on an adventure. In order not to use up all of the available media storage on my WordPress account, we’ve included just some of the highlights from our day.

That was the intention at this stage in the write-up. I may have ended up including more pictures than was originally intended. Oh, well.

Whiskey Rapids Trail

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A slightly gnarly trail at this point
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Oxtongue River

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The Oxtongue is looking regal – me on the other hand – hard to say

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Wild orchid – Pink Lady Slipper

Hardwood Lookout Trail

Although short in length, the Hardwood Lookout Trail provides a magnificent view out across Smoke Lake. It is a bit of a steep uphill climb in parts, but is a hugely popular hiking trail. Especially in late September and early October, when the fall colours are at their peak.

The big highlight picture-wise at least for us, was the view from the lookout point near the end of the trail.  Up to this point, the scenery is pretty much a groomed trail through the forest. Don’t let that detract you from hiking it. It is only about 1 kilometre in length; doesn’t take much time, but you will be rewarded with a great view.

See – told ya!

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View out to Smoke Lake

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I seriously need to work on the whole “selfie” bit! lol

Peck Lake Trail

Our third stop of the day was the Peck Lake Trail.

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Now, not to cast a negative light on any of the interpretive hiking trails, canoe routes, backpacking trails or one’s favourite beach, campsite, a special spot just to sit or to do whatever it might be, but this is one of the prettiest hikes along Highway 60.

We all might have a favourite location anywhere in the park and it may be “our favourite” for a variety of reasons. All of them would be valid.

Peck Lake Trail simply struck us as a beautiful location for several reasons. Lots of variety in the trail itself. Roots, rocks, trees and a combination of all three at times. And all of this, along the shore of the smallish lake. It also helped that the sun was shining and the slight breeze kept the “flying bug hoards” at bay.

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Noooooooo!

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That’s better. We’ll take the option on the right – please and thank-you.

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Hello, what’s your name?

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Just about at every turn on the trail, it dipped down to the water and provided a magnificent view of Peck Lake and the surrounding area.DSC_0076

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The next picture, although not the best is of a loon. A water bird found mostly in the northern parts of Canada, but not exclusively. It does, however, have a very distinct and haunting call. Click here for a short YouTube clip of its call.

For those reading outside of Canada and not familiar with our currency, we have $1 and $2 coins. The dollar coin has a picture of a loon on the front. Hence, that’s why we call the $1 coin, a “loonie.”

The $2 coin is referred to as a “toonie”, which is simply a “loonie” multiplied by 2. We like to keep our math easy out in the colony.

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A well-constructed home on Canada’s national symbol/animal – the beaver.

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Peck Lake Trail has become one of our favourites along the Highway 60 corridor in the Park for sure. There is not a lot of elevation changes, so it is easy from that aspect. There are plenty of exposed tree roots and alike, but nothing that should discourage one from hiking the trail.

It’s about 2.3 kilometres in length and by just easily strolling along and admiring the views and soaking up the environment, it should take about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.

This is one trail, you don’t want to pass up!

Spruce Bog Trail

Our fourth trail of the day was the Spruce Bog Trail. Located at kilometre marker 42.5, it is about 100 to 200 metres from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. Easy to do one, then slip down the road to do the other.

The Spruce Bog Trail is flat and has been designed to be wheel-chair accessible. How neat is that!

We had been on this trail more times than Lynn and I can count.

A “lady-slipper. ” A slightly different shade than the pink colour they generally are.

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The trail throughout “Spruce Bog” is either a wooden path like this or crushed limestone.

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As the name of the trail suggests, it crosses a large bog area very near the beginning. There is a small shallow stream that traverses through it. One thing I’ve learned over the years is when in the wilderness is to keep looking around for a variety of reasons. One reason and a good one at that, is often wildlife can be close by, but be difficult to detect.

As I was scanning this shallow stream, look who I came upon.

Mr/Mrs. Snapping Turtle. It was difficult to see it, as it was covered in mud and algae and was just sitting on the bottom of the stream. But, a great find nonetheless.

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As I just mentioned, keeping your eyes moving will many times reveal things that if you weren’t watching for, you just might walk on by and not notice. The following is a prime example.

The little guy(a Ruffed Grouse)or one of his or her five brothers or sisters, caught our eye as we walked along the wooden pathway. In fact, they were only a foot or two off the path in the grass and shrubs.

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Lynn and I, unlike some, don’t normally go out and look for animals to photograph. We figure, being a creature in the wild is a tough enough life. Why stress them more by chasing them around or getting close and stressing them for a simple photograph.

If we happen upon them fine, but we give them a wide berth(it’s their habitat, not ours) and if we can catch a photo – great. If not, that’s okay.

I won’t say any more about it, but believe me, in Algonquin Park as in other locations, the photography of animals and the methods used to capture the shots, is a hot and often contentious topic at best.

Once seeing her and the family, we stopped about 50 feet away and let her “try her best” at “family/sibling” control.

She was quite content to try and move her brood(believe me, it was like she was trying to herd cats) from one side of the boardwalk to the other. She didn’t seem phased at all we were there. She had five offspring. Four of them struck fairly close together and followed Mom generally where she went.

Like any parent, regardless of the species knows, there is always one child that seems to march to a different drummer. She spent most of her time, trying round up child #5.

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Wait for me!

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Moving along the trail, of course, didn’t Lynn see this. She IS NOT BIG on snakes regardless of the type or size. Not big on snakes is an understatement – believe me.

Nothing to see here folks, let’s keep moving along – shall we?

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Bunchberry

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Canoes ready to be portaged to the next part of a trip someplace

The Spruce Bog Trail should be part of any trip to Algonquin Park for a number of reasons.

One of the primary ones, it is accessible for those with mobility issues. As well, if you have a young family with a one in a stroller, this is a great trail for you. At about 1.5 kilometres in length, it is doable in about an hour, just poking along.

We left Spruce Big Trail and headed across the road to the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre. The Visitor’s Centre must be on your list of things to see and take in when in the Park. It has a cafeteria, a walk-through interactive display on everything Algonquin; a bookstore; art gallery; movie theatre; observation deck and of course – washrooms.

We usually hit up in the Visitor’s most times when we’re in the park. Today was not different.

A shot from the observation deck, across Sunday Creek. The Spruce Bog Trail would be to the right of the picture. To the left, Sunday Creek flows into Norway Lake, which connects to Fork Lake.

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After leaving the Visitor’s Centre, we headed west along Highway 60, making a stop at the little known Cache Lake Trail. 

Cache Lake is one of the many access points in the Park in interior canoe tripping. It is also the access location for the many lease-hold cottages that are on Cache Lake.

Cache Lake in the past, was the hub and centre of activity in the early years of the Park, up until about the late 1940s to perhaps the early 1950s.

Cache Lake at one point, was home to a grand hotel built originally by the Grand Trunk Railway called the “Highland Inn.” It was also the location of the Algonquin Park train station. As well, the home of the Park Superintendent was also located here.

A few historical pictures.

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Highland Inn – Google Images
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Train Sation with Highland Inn behind. To the left, the building was the Algonquin Park staff house.

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Taking leisure and lounging on the verandah of the Highland Inn, overlooking Cache Lake.

 

 

 

The staff house on the right and the home of the Park Superintendent is on the left.

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All that remains today of the “hub of the Park” is a retaining wall and a few concrete stairways up to the former Inn. There are also a few water pipes popping up out of the ground and a fire hydrant on the site of the Inn.

All is not lost, however!

There several well-laid out information boards that detail the rich history of this location in the Park. Although not as heavily advertised as other attractions in the Park, for history enthusiasts, this is a must stop.

The actual trail with the information boards is relatively short, just a few hundred metres, but worth the time to check it out.DSC_0226

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And with that, our day finished.

In total, we hiked around 8 kilometres. Not a great amount by any means, but satisfying to the soul nevertheless. For us, it is a round trip of 5 to 6 hours just to get there. People often ask us, why drive so far? I can only respond by saying, “why not?

The pull that Algonquin has on me, is something better explained or to try and explain in another post.

Suffice it to say, it is something I must do. And I must do often.

It was a long day, hot and yes, plenty of bugs for sure. But, it was a highlight of our holidays.

There is always so much to do and take in when visiting Algonquin. I didn’t even mention our picnic lunch along the breezy shore of Lake of Two Rivers or several of the other things we did.

Take the time, if you’re ever in the area to check out Algonquin Park. It’s only a 3 to 4-hour drive from Toronto.

Come early and stay late.

Thanks for visiting and being with us yet another Algonquin Park adventure.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

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