Trip to Muskoka and Algonquin Provincial Park

Trip to Muskoka and Algonquin Provincial Park

September 24th to September 28th, 2018

Day 1

After driving for most of the day, I finally arrived at my destination, Huntsville, Ontario. I checked into my hotel, unloaded my car and organized my stuff for the week ahead. It wasn’t quite dinnertime yet and there was a bit of sunlight still left. So I decided to head into the downtown area to take a few photos before the sunset. I found a parking space along the main drag and began walking towards the waterfront area. I took some photos from the docks and of main street before returning to my hotel to eat some dinner.

Downtown Huntsville, Ontario
Huntsville Civic Centre – Algonquin Theatre
All Saints’ Anglican Church
Huntsville Swing Bridge
View from the docks

Day 2

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and it ended up raining for the entire day. So I decided that this would be a good opportunity to explore the shops in downtown Huntsville. I got in my car and headed towards main street. As I wandered in and out of the different stores, I noticed that there were Christmas decorations up everywhere. Since it was only September at this point, I found it a bit strange that they would be decorating for Christmas already. I guess one of the store clerks noticed my puzzled expression and explained to me that a Hallmark Christmas movie was being filmed over the next week. They also let me know that there would be some closures to the downtown area so that they could complete the filming.

After I had finished looking in the stores, I took a break and had some lunch which I had packed and brought with me. While I was checking out things on Facebook I noticed that my aunt, who lives in British Columbia, posted that she was staying in the area. I sent her a message and she confirmed that she was in fact staying at Deerhurst Resort which wasn’t far from where I was staying. She invited me to stop by and have a visit with her since we hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. I got directions from her and after I finished up downtown I made my way to the resort.

We had a lovely visit and my aunt even invited me to stay for dinner. After we finished eating it was beginning to get dark so I told her that I needed to get back before it got too late. I said my goodbyes and made my way back to my hotel. Once I was back safe I decided to take a swim in the hotel pool so that I could relax before heading off to sleep.

Day 3

Finally the weather cleared up enough that I was able to make my way up to Algonquin Provincial Park. I stopped at the West Gate and paid for my day pass before heading to my first destination. The Algonquin Art Centre is directly next to Found Lake and is always a great place to visit along the Highway 60 corridor.

Found Lake

After leaving the art centre I made my way to the Algonquin Visitor Centre where I took in the sights from the outdoor viewing area and saw the time capsule recently added there by Ontario Parks. The capsule was placed in the visitor centre to celebrate 125 years. Ontario Parks began in 1893 with the creation of Canada’s first provincial park, Algonquin.

Algonquin Visitor Centre
Algonquin Visitor Centre

My first trail of the day was at the Algonquin Logging Museum. I began my visit at the reception building where an audiovisual program in the theatre presents a history of logging in Algonquin Park. Once the video has finished, the screen lifts and a garage door opens, showing you the beginning of a 1.3km loop trail featuring numbered exhibit stations. The guidebooks are available to keep for a fee or can be used for free if you return them to the box provided at the end of the trail.

For my second trail of the day, I decided to complete the Beaver Pond Trail. I have hiked this trail before and it is definitely one of my favourites. The two kilometres takes you through rugged Algonquin terrain providing potential opportunities to see beavers in their natural habitat and the role that they play in the park environment. Unfortunately I did not see any beavers during this trip however I saw their incredible dam structure (pictured below).

Beaver Pond Trail

The third trail of my spent day in the park was the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. This 1.5 kilometre loop takes you across two separate bog habitats. It introduces you to the Black Spruce tree which is surrounded by lush carpets of green moss leading to open water. A view of this environment is shown below.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk

The final trail of my day was the Lookout Trail. It is a little over 2 kilometres long and visits a high cliff which looks out into the park. Although this trail is not very long, it is a little more difficult as it requires a steep climb to reach the cliff top. But once you get to the edge and look out into the endless forest on the horizon, it is certainly worth the effort.

I had a wonderful first day in the park and could not wait to see what was in store for me tomorrow.

Lookout Trail

Day 4

I got up early and I made sure to have a good breakfast. The weather forecast was promising and I had a lot of things I wanted to do once I got back up to the park. So I packed up my stuff and headed towards the west gate. The sun had not yet burned off the early morning mist and it made for the perfect photo opportunity.

View along Highway 60 – Misty Morning

For my first trail of the day, I decided to start at the west end of the park. The 2.1 kilometre Whiskey Rapids Trail follows along the Oxtongue River and eventually reaches the very picturesque Whiskey Rapids. Thankfully there wasn’t too many people in the parking lot when I finally reached the trailhead. As I made my way along the trail, I took in the beautiful views of the river eventually ending up at the rapids.

Whiskey Rapids Trail

I brought my tripod with me on this hike since I wanted to take a long exposure of the rapids. After I located a good spot to setup, I got out my gear and adjusted the settings on my camera. I took a few test shots and made some final adjustments. The final outcome of this shot is shown below.

Whiskey Rapids Trail

The second trail of my day was the Hardwood Lookout Trail. This one kilometre loop takes you through a hardwood forest which eventually reaches a lookout of Smoke Lake and the surrounding hills of maple trees. Once I had reached the lookout point, I took a moment and sat on a picnic bench, enjoying the breathtaking views. Afterwards, I headed back to the parking lot and onto my next destination.

Hardwood Lookout Trail – Smoke Lake

I decided that my last trail of the day would be Peck Lake Trail. It is a 2.3 kilometre loop which takes you completely around Peck Lake. This particular trail was really enjoyable to hike and offered fantastic views all throughout. A new favourite for me and I will definitely visit this trail again in the future.

Peck Lake Trail
Peck Lake Trail

After my last hike, I headed to the portage store to have some lunch. I sat down near the dock area and enjoyed the view of Canoe Lake while I ate the food that I had packed for myself. Once I had finished eating, I decided that there was one more thing that I wanted to do before I left for the day. I went to the rentals desk and selected a canoe that I could take out by myself for a few hours.

Docks at the Portage Store

Once I was out on the water, I followed the shoreline, looking for signs of wildlife while also appreciating the incredible beauty all around me. All of a sudden, I noticed something floating on the top of the water and then moments later diving under. I paddled over in its direction to see if I could figure out what it was. Once I got a bit closer to it I was able to determine that it was a Common Loon. I was, however, able to get one decent photo of it before it ducked back under the water.

Canoe Lake
Common Loon

I made it back to the docks and returned my canoe to the rental area. Since it was getting later in the day, I decided to take one last drive along the highway 60 corridor before heading back to my hotel. I exited the driveway to the portage store and took a left on the highway heading towards the east gate. All of a sudden, I noticed up ahead that there were several cars pulled to the side of the highway on both sides. My heart began to race since I was hoping it was because a moose had been spotted.

I found a safe place to pull over, grabbed my camera and headed to where a crowd of people had gathered. At first I could’t tell what they were looking at until someone told me that was a male moose directly in front of where we were standing. Then I found out that there was a mom and baby moose just on the other side of where the male was standing. I walked a bit further up the side of the highway and got my first glimpse of the pair.

This was a dream come true for me. Not one, but three Moose stood before me. I could hardy contain my excitement as I tried to focus and take some photos. Unfortunately they were too far apart from one another to get all three animals in the same photo but I was able to get some wonderful shots of mom and baby together. The male, however, was thrashing about in the brush next to them trying to impress the female as this was during the rut.

Mom and Baby Moose

As mom and baby moved back towards a parking lot area, I decided to reposition myself so that I could get a better view. I headed down a side road in the direction that they were going, when all of a sudden, I had the feeling that I was being watched. I turned to my left and could see the male moose staring back at me through the trees. I was able to take one photo before moving quickly to put some space between me and him.

Male Moose – The Stare Down

When I got to the parking lot area there was already a crowd of people. The park wardens were also there making sure that people were not getting to close. I made sure to approach one of the wardens to let them know that the male was really close by. Shortly thereafter, the female and male moose ran across the road, off into the bush and out of sight. I never saw the baby again however I’m sure that it wasn’t far from moms side. Once it was safe to do so, I made my way to my vehicle and headed back to my hotel for the night.

Day 5

I made sure to get up early so that I could enjoy one last breakfast at the hotel before I had to check out. Once I finished eating, I went back up to my room to gather up my things. After I did one last check around my room, I made my way to the hotel lobby to hand in my room keys. I loaded up my car and stopped for gas nearby, filling up my tank for the long journey back home.

Once I got on the road the traffic was moving pretty good until I reached Barrie, Ontario. Thankfully my turn off wasn’t too far pass that point so I didn’t have to slow down for very long. Once I reached my exit it was pretty smooth driving the rest of the way home. It was raining lightly on and off which made the drive feel longer than it actually was. When I finally made it home safely I was glad to be there but I was also sad because my trip was finally over.

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