After sorting out our car and mosquitoe troubles (previous post), our next stop was Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario’s first provincial park. The park was only a relatively short drive from Bon Echo, so we got to the visitors center early in the morning. Algonquin is known as a canoeist’s paradise, with over 1,000 lakes that are paddling-accessible through short portages between them. Unfortunately the weather forecast looked grim, with thunderstorms expected for the next few days. We decided to delay a paddling trip to wait for better weather and explore the park on foot instead. We picked a multi-day hiking trail for a trail run in the afternoon. The Highlands hike can be done as either a 19km or 35km loop, and the 19km loop seemed like a good option for a run. The weather held up nicely, with a few drips here and there, and the trail was muddy only in parts. We definitely noticed the recent lack of training on the meandering path that made it difficult to get into a rhythm – although the sweeping views of lakes and birch / pine forest helped us move along. Leika was in her element again, running back and forth, jumping up at trees (way too slow to get even close to the chipmunks), and bouncing around us. We’ll try to record our runs and bike rides on Strava, here’s the summary of this one:
With that run under our belt, it was time for a shower. Quick tip: free and awesome hot showers available at the Portage store in the park! About half an hour after our run, it started thundering and pouring rain. We got pretty lucky, taking advantage of the weather while it lasted. The night we stayed at one of the park’s campsites (they must have space for thousands of campers there, it’s unbelievable how many sites there are), and called it a night pretty early. The next morning we looked into canoeing, but the forecast remained bad. So we opted for more day hiking and checked out the visitor’s center. On the drive, we saw our first wild animals in Canada: a beaver and a moose. In terms of hiking, we did a quick 1km loop for a scenic lookout, and then a 10km trail run on the Centennial Ridge, which we heard has the best scenic vistas of the park. The views were truly amazing, with tons of elevated lookouts from rocky ledges that overlooked the lakes and forests.
The weather continued not to cooperate with us, so it was time to move along, further west. We’ll hit the Great Lakes pretty soon, and driving distances will get really long for a while.