Algonquin Provincial Park is Canada’s oldest national park and one of Ontario’s most beloved. Algonquin is located in southeastern Ontario and covers an impressive 7,653 square kilometres. Within the park, you will find a plethora of outdoor activities, some wildlife, and glimpses into the logging industry.
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Algonquin a 4 season park that offers completely different experiences during each individual season. However, with its close proximity to Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin park does get busy on weekends in the Summer, Spring, and Fall.
If you are looking for a quintessential Canadian camping experience, Algonquin park truly fits the bill.
Getting to/ around Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
The most popular way to get to Algonquin Park is by self-driving. Algonquin Park is 2 hours and 42 minutes west of Ottawa (243.2 kilometres) and 2 hours and 50 minutes north of Toronto (276 kilometres).
Those without a car can catch the Park Bus from downtown Toronto. Within Algonquin Provincial Park, the Park Bus stops at Lake Opeongo, Pog Lake Campground, Lake of Two Rivers, The Portage Store, West Gate access point, and Wolf Den Hostel & Nature Retreat. Unfortunately, it does not run a service to or from Ottawa at this time.
Besides the Park Bus, there is no public transportation within Algonquin Provincial Park. So we would recommend driving yourself if you can. We explored the park with our campervan, Benji! He particularly enjoyed the beautiful drives!
Algonquin Park Hours & Entry Fees
There are two ways to visit the park. The first is on a day-use/ daily vehicle pass and the second is with a camping permit. Anyone with an Algonquin Park camping permit has 24-hour access and does not need to pay an additional fee.
Those on a day-use or daily vehicle pass are permitted within Algonquin park from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm each day. Day use permits can be purchased at most park facilities.
A daily vehicle permit is $18.00 per vehicle. However, they increase to $21.00 per vehicle for those exploring Highway 60 on weekends in the fall when people flock to see the changing foliage.
Don’t be caught without a ticket or you will be given a hefty fine. Ontario Parks seasonal passes also work as a day pass for park Algonquin and can be purchased in advance at most Ontario Parks offices or online.
Seasonal passes range from $85.00 for a winter pass, $125.00 for a summer pass, and $185.00 for an annual Ontario Parks pass.
Things to Do in Algonquin Park, Ontario
No matter what time of year you plan to visit Algonquin Provincial Park, there is plenty to do once you arrive. Most visitors come to Algonquin to enjoy the beautiful scenery and to escape city life, but those that are lucky might even catch a glimpse of some of Algonquoin’s animals like the Canada loon, beaver, moose, and deer.
Hiking is by far one of the best things to do in Algonquin Park, Canada. There are over 20 well-marked Algonquin Park trails ranging from 30mins to a few hours. Most trails are about 1-2 hours. They are perfect for day-trippers and those staying at front-country campsites within the park.
Backcountry hikers will enjoy over 140 kilometres of interior park trails but they aren’t for the faint of heart. To camp and hike in the backcountry requires previous experience and lots of preparation.
Recommended Day Trails
Some of the best day hikes, at Algonquin Park, Ontario, include the following:
Lookout Trail (1.9km)
This scenic trail may only cover 1.9 kilometres but it takes approximately 1 hour to complete. You’ll climb to the top of a cliff which rewards you with panoramic views of the park. The Lookout Trail is the most popular and hence the busiest trail in Algonquin park so be prepared to share it with the crowds or plan to visit on a weekday. Bonus points if you can do it in the fall when the foliage is at its best and brightest.
Beaver Pond Trail (2kms)
This easy trail wraps around 2 beaver ponds offering an opportunity to spot these elusive animals in their natural habitat. The trail takes about 1-2 hours to complete and is an easy hike with lovely scenery.
Algonquin Logging Museum Trail (1.3km)
This fascinating trail offers a glimpse into Ontario’s logging industry. It begins and ends at the Algonquin Logging Museum and along the well-trodden track you’ll pass by interpretive signage, old steam-powered train and a restructured wooden logging camp.
Stop at the museum to watch the documentary for even more information on logging in the area. The museum is managed in part by the Friends of Algonquin park program which is an NGO dedicated to furthering the educational and interpretive programs of the park.
Track & Tower Trail (7.5 km)
This rather difficult trail takes about 4 hours to complete but offers a scenic lookout and a view of an abandoned railway.
Mizzy Lake Trail (11 km)
Mizzy Lake Trail is one of the longest day trails in the park but with that comes a full immersion into nature. The trail takes about 4-5 hours to complete and takes visitors past hardwood forests, ponds, bogs, and lakes. Since the trail takes you away from busy areas, it is more common to see wildlife, like moose, turtles, and beaver along the way. The trail is fairly flat but can get muddy so we would only suggest you attempt it in the dry, summer months.
Whether you are up for a leisurely pedal or a more intense downhill mountain biking experience, there is a trail for you to discover at Algonquin Park. However, only attempt the trails when they are snow-free. If you didn’t bring your own bike you can check in with Two Rivers Store to rent.
Old Railway Bike Trail (16 kilometres)
This interesting trail is of a fairly flat grade and offers interpretive signage along the way. It is suitable for all levels and follows the path of an abandoned railway bed. It passes a series of lakes including an access point at Mew Lake, Lake of Two Rivers, Kearney Lake, Coon Lake, Pog Lake, Rock Lake.
Minnesing Mountain Bike Trail (4.7 – 23.4 kilometres)
This moderately difficult mountain bike trail passes by lakes, through hardwood forest and includes boardwalk sections. Bikers can choose their desired length based on their preference.
Byer Lake Mountain Bike Trail (13 kilometres)
The Byer Lake Trail is another moderately difficult trail. It is a convenient loop that has views of York River, Gut Rapids, and Byers Lake. There are a series of steep ascents and descents and keep in mind that the trail can get muddy at times.
Bird watchers tend to find Algonquin Park, Ontario a very special place. Over 278 birds have been recorded within the park, many of which breed or make stopovers on their migratory patterns.
The Common Loon is the most recognizable bird in the park and can be found living in most lakes. Blue Jays, Gray Jays, Black-Backed Woodpeckers and Spruce Grouse are other Canadian classics that can be seen within the park.
At certain times of the year, the Friends of Algonquin Park offer a live stream of a local bird feeder. The Wild Bird Cam is part of a Friends of Algonquin Park wildlife monitoring program.
Canoeing and Boating
With the wealth of lakes in the area, you can see why canoeing and boating is one of the most popular things to do in Algonquin Park, Ontario.
To keep the peace within the park unlimited horsepower boats are only permitted on Galeairy and Opeongo Lakes. Boats with a horsepower of 20 or less, 10 or less, and 6 or less are permitted on many more.
Canoeing is much more common and is permitted everywhere in Algonquin Park, Ontario. There are over 2,100 kilometres worth of canoe trails in the Algonquin which are perfect for day paddles, backcountry exploring and portage trips.
For more information or for an Algonquin Park canoe rental, check in to Opeongo Store and Canoe Centre or Portage Store and Canoe Centre. They are both located along Highway 60.
Algonquin Park has some of the best trout fishing in Canada. Spring is the best time to fish for trout, where you can find Brook Trout and Lake Trout in hundreds of lakes within the park. Summer is more suited to Smallmouth Bass fishing.
Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
In the winter months, the trails are not typically suitable for winter hiking but they offer continued enjoyment for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are three trail networks for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing where you will no doubt see animals tracks along the way.
Fen Lake Ski Trail
Located in the western section of the park, the Fen Lake Ski Trail network has four loops of 1.25, 5.2, 11.4 and 13 km. Each offers varying difficulty levels. All of them are groomed.
The Minnesing Trail
This ski trail offers four loops of 4.7 to 23.4 km. It is not groomed but well maintained and known for its soft snow. Perfect for snowshoeing.
Leaf Lake Ski Trail
All trails are groomed and there are toilets and cabins located along the trail. The network has tracks ranging from 5 to 51 kilometres.
Stop by the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre
Regardless of what time of year you visit, stop by the Visitor Centre to pick up an Algonquin park map and to see “What’s on”. Algonquin park holds a series of events and programs throughout the year, including interpretive walks, events at the adjacent outdoor theatre, evening programs and more. Many of which are facilitated by the Friends of Algonquin Park program. Check the schedule or talk to an Algonquin Park ranger at the Visitor Centre.
Located within the Visitor Centre is Algonquin Park’s second museum. It depicts the natural history of the park and includes an informative documentary and educational exhibits.
On the backside of the Visitor Centre is a lookout deck that offers 180-degree views of Algonquin Park. It has simply stunning views and is a great alternative to the Lookout trail for anyone with mobility issues.
Where to Stay in Algonquin Park, Ontario
You have your fair share of accommodation options and camps in Algonquin Park, Ontario. The most popular place to stay is along the Highway 60 corridor in the western section of the park. You’ll be close to Algonquin Park trails and other highlights like the Visitor Centre and Logging Museum.
It is absolutely essential to book your camp in Algonquin Park in advance. Algonquin park reservations go fast especially in the warmer months and during fall. You can book your site 5 months in advance on the Park Ontario website but keep in mind reservation holders will not be able to check in to their site before 2pm.
Algonquin Park Campgrounds
Mew Lake Campground
Mew Lake Campground is located along Highway 60. It contains 131 powered and non-powered campsites suitable for reservation holders with tents and RV’s. The campground has lakefront access, a beach, toilet, shower, and laundry facilities available. It is open year-round and is connected to many hiking trails which will keep you busy before check-in.
Lake of Two Rivers Campground
Lake of Two Rivers Campground is another one of the Highway 60 campsites. Algonquin permits small boats (20 horsepower or less) to explore the lake surrounding the campsite where trout can be found. There is a beach and volleyball court on-site and all the facilities you would expect from a campsite like toilets, shower, and laundry facilities. There are 241 powered and non-powered campsites suitable for tents and rental vehicles. Make sure that you check the Ontario Park’s website for the most up to date info on each campsite as some facilities, like showers and other communal areas may be closed.
The Pog Lake Campground
The layout of Pog Lake Campground maximizes waterfront real estate and individual site seclusion. You can check in with this Algonquin park camping site on the long weekend in May and then from mid-June to the Labour day weekend. There are 286 campsites, some with electrical and suited for RV’s. You can find a beach, shower facilities, and toilets on site.
There are 5 Ranger Cabins which visitors can drive into and many more with a backcountry access point. Most of them can be described as very basic roofed accommodations but they vary greatly from cabin to cabin.
In most cases, the cabins do not have electricity or running water. However, they tend to some sort of toilet facility, bunk beds, washbasins, and other miscellaneous amenities.
Yurts are octagonal, tent-like roofed accommodations. At Algonquin Park there at 8 yurts available for rent. 7 are located at Mew Lake Campground and 1 at Achray Campground.
Each yurt each contains bunk beds and is suitable for up to 6 people, offering fluorescent lighting, and electrical heat inside. However, you’ll need to bring your own bedding and related gear for camping at Algonquin Park.
Traveling to Algonquin Park Ontario During COVID
As domestic travel begins to open up we have to continue to be mindful to stop the spread of COVID. If you are traveling to Algonquin Park Ontario during the pandemic consider the following:
- If you have been in contact with anyone that has COVID or if you are exhibiting synonyms, do not travel
- Wear a mask when indoors or around other people
- Wash your hand or use sanitizer often.
- Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times
Algonquin has a very special place in the hearts of many Ontarians. If you are planning to check in to the park, practise leaving no trace. Dispose of your garbage at a proper access point and pack zero waste products when possible so the park is beautiful for the next reservation holders.