Home to dense forest, thousands of lakes, and hundreds of rivers that span for many kilometres, Algonquin Park is an outdoor adventurer’s wonderland, stretching over 7,000 square kilometres between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Ontario. Its proximity to large urban areas, such as Toronto and Ottawa, make this vast landscape an easy getaway.

In addition to being the oldest provincial park in Canada, Algonquin Park is also the site of some prominent hiking and canoeing routes. This a bonus to visitors, considering the only way to explore the park’s interior is either by foot or canoe/​kayak. With backpacking trails ranging from 6 to 88 kilometres in length, there’s an adventure suitable for a wide range of itineraries.

Complete a short walk or an overnight hike at the Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail

The Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail is located at the northeast corner of Algonquin Park and offers visitors a choice of a 6- or 15-kilometre loop. Whether you’re planning a short day trip or staying for overnight camping, those looking to be immersed in nature’s beauty will not be disappointed. Along the way, you will encounter many picturesque landmarks, including the sandy beaches of Grand Lake, as well as glacial boulders, breathtaking cliffs, and perhaps even a wildlife sighting or two.

The entrance of the trail begins at the Archray Campground. A special significance lies at this location as it’s the spot where the Jack Pine was painted in the early 1900s, widely recognized as a masterpiece of Canadian art. The painting demonstrates the spirit of the northern Ontario landscape through its simple depiction of a lone pine-tree. While looking out towards Grand Lake, attempt to envision what Tom Thomson might have seen while creating this work of art.

Embrace the technical challenges of the Highland Backpacking Trail

The Highland Backpacking Trail can be accessed near the Mew Lake Campground and will take visitors past secluded campsites, many of which are positioned by some amazing blue lakes, including Harness Lake. With loops ranging from 19 to 35 kilometers in length, you’ll need to spend a night or two to complete the journey. Though, despite its beauty and peaceful atmosphere, this trail will provide hikers with some challenges. If you decide to undertake either loop, be prepared for a few steep climbs, sharp turns and side slopes. 

After a long day taking in the beautiful scenery and conquering some natural challenges, reward yourself with a relaxing dinner by a lake discovered along the way. Don’t mind the sound of the loons talking amongst themselves in the distance.

Hike Algonquin Park’s longest trail: the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail

Perfect for a long-weekend adventure, the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail is the longest trek in Algonquin Park’s interior, while often considered the most difficult as well. It’s comprised of three loops ranging between 32 and 88 kilometres in length. This trail has two access points, one at the Western Uplands Backpacking Trailhead/​Oxtongue River Picnic Ground as well as the Rain Lake Access Point. Much like the Highland Backpacking Trail, visitors will encounter some steep inclines, sharp turns and side slopes along the way.

On your journey, stop to take photos at the many scenic outlooks, admire the history behind the glacial erratic boulders, and enjoy a sunset overlooking the lakes and rivers along the trail.

Spend a day on the water with a Ragged Falls canoe trip

Taking a Ragged Falls canoe or kayak trip is considered a popular day activity on the water within Algonquin Park’s interior. The river is both small and scenic, making it the perfect option for beginners or those looking for a relaxing journey. This self-guided trip will take 3 – 4 hours, departing at the dock by Oxtongue Lake. Those without equipment or comfort in navigating this river for the first time will take comfort in knowing that rentals and guided tours are also available here by visiting Algonquin Outfitters, located right by the dock. 

Once you arrive at the base of the falls, feel free to park your canoe or kayak and hike to the top for a phenomenal overhead view of the river and surrounding landscape that you just traveled.

Paddle the short, yet scenic route at Costello Creek

For those less experienced, or simply don’t have an entire day or more to spend canoeing this national park’s interior, a guided trip at Costello Creek is perfect for you. At roughly two hours long, an experienced guide will take you out onto this small river between May and October. Kick back and enjoy the ride or learn to paddle in the canoe or kayak — the choice is yours. Access to this Costello Creek adventure is available by visiting Algonquin Outfitters’ Opeongo Lake location.

Once your Journey through Algonquin Park has come to an end, be sure to consider visiting other key points of interest throughout Southeastern Ontario.

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