Fall is the most romantic season in Ontario. But October makes it so special because it is the month of the year when one can indulge the gorgeous foliage, thanks to the countless variety of yellow, orange and red colours that appear shortly after a couple of crisp mornings in the season.
One doesn’t really need to go out of the city to enjoy the nature and the wonderful colours, there are many parks and alleys with a fine selected variety of trees and shrubs that will change shades and colours along with the new season. But we decided that a visit a little bit up North, to Algonquin Provincial Park would be a better idea, while we could do some hiking as well.
Established in 1893, Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada. Over time, its size has increased to its current size of about 7,653 square kilometers.
With over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 km of streams and rivers, the park is one of the most popular provincial parks. It has 19 interpretive trails, ranging in length from 1 to 11.7 km.
If one just wants to walk and admire the nature, Peck Lake Trail is an easy one. If someone would like to learn something about the environment and this particular area, then the guides available at the beginning of the trail offer so much information about the lakes in Algonquin, plants and animals. The guides can be kept for 50 cents, or be returned in a box, so others may use it later. These guides are available with the help of Friends of Algonquin, a non-profit registered charity organization for people passionate about Algonquin Park.
Mixed forests and a wide variety of environments in the park allow cohabitation a huge diversity of plants and animal species together.
The Lookout Trail (2.1-km loop) climbs up about 100 m to the top of a cliff with gorgeous views of a mixed forest and Lake of Two Rivers in the distance. Four times in the last million years, the Earth’s climate has undergone major cooling trends, followed by a warmed period. Right in this area, the three km of glacial ice (the fourth and last ice sheet) melted about 11,000 years ago.
Centennial Ridges Trail (10.4 km loop) is going along two high, parallel ridge systems and features some of the park’s most outstanding scenery. It is a very demanding trail that visits five separate cliffs and involves much climbing and descending. The trail was opened in 1993 as it honors 11 representative historic personages who have helped shape the present day Park. Because we run out of time, and the evening was fast approaching, we only hiked to the post#10, which is facing Whitefish Lake, going directly to the last posts.
Booth’s Rock Trail (5.1 km loop) starts one km south of the Rock Lake Campground office. The parking lot is very tiny at this trail, and we were asked to leave the car very far from the start of the trail. We didn’t climb to the lookout point, but instead we hiked to the Barclay Estate, along the Rock Lake shore, which offered an awesome view of the lake. Judge G Barclay was a relative of JR Booth, a lumberman of the early logging era. We saw some remnants of a dwelling which was occupied for the last time in the summer of 1953. The path goes along on what was once the busiest railroad in all of Canada. This was part of the railroad built in 1890 that linked Ottawa to Georgian Bay, and no longer in use since 1944.
The Algonquin Visitor Centre features exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area.
Opened in 1992, the Algonquin Logging Museum is located by the park’s east gate. A 1.3 km outdoor trail opens up right after the video presentation is ending inside of the building. The path walked us through the history of the logging industry, with a recreated camp, old tools, and logging equipment and even a steam-powered amphibious tug called an “alligator”. The interpretive panels along the way gave us a full image how harsh the life and work was in those times, and how tough the journey of the first settlers was.
Beside the great foliage the park is offering, there are several hikes for beginners or more experienced people, picnic areas, museums, lodges, campgrounds, and many other facilities one can think of. There are informative booklets at the beginning of each trail. No wonder that since 1992, Algonquin Park has become a National Historic Site of Canada.
Beaver Pond Trail (2 km trail) winds through a rugged terrain, and goes along the dams, and partially by the Amikeus Lake, a beaver-made lake. There are several beaver lodges spread over, and not sure how many of them are in use. We have not seen any beaver, but I guess our timing was not perfectJ
Algonquin Park is home to a Natural Heritage Education program. The most popular aspect of the program is the weekly wolf howls. These are held (weather and wolves permitting) on Thursdays in the month of August, and sometimes in the first week of September if there is a Thursday before Labour Day. Park staff attempt to locate a wolf pack on Wednesday evening and, if successful, they announce a public wolf howl the next day. This sounds really interesting, don’t you think?
* Tip(s) of the day
– ensure you have hiking boots as most of the trails have rugged paths
– families with kids (and not only) should be careful, as some trails go by or end to an abrupt cliff
– ensure you have water with you, as not all trails have water/washroom facilities near by
~ visited in October 2019