Algonquin Trip Suggestions for 1st-timer

We’ve been wanting to do a trip into Algonquin Provincial Park for some time now but have been hesitant because of our reluctance to give up our kayaks. Since we’re purchasing a tripping canoe this spring, we’ll be able to be more flexible in our trip selections and Algonquin comes to mind. We purchased the map, but there’s so much waterway to choose from we could use some advice from someone who’s been. Obviously talking to an outfitter is one way to go. We’d be looking at a 3-4 day trip somewhere between mid-May and mid-July. No motors, no sounds from motors is highly desireable at the obviuos expense of portaging. Is it possible to get far enough away from the motored waterways to be out of earshot? An out-and-back or loop trip is preferrable over a trip requiring a shuttle. Remoteness and seclusion, somewhere off the beaten path with campsites in lightly used areas would be ideal. Fishing is not something we do so not a factor. Are the bugs there similar to the bug situation in the Adirondacks that I’m familiar with (specifically black flies) or is there a different cycle to be aware of? Any info is appreciated.



kevin callan…
…has published a number of useful tripping guides, most appropriate to your query would be “Brook Trout and Blackflies: A Paddler’s Guide to Algonquin Park”. As the title implies, blackflies are as bad there as in Regis and other Adirondack locales during the same early spring season.

Another Callan volume you might want to peruse is “Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes” wherein he tries to provide details on short and long duration loops trips off the beaten path. My experience with BWCA, Quetico, and Algonquin is their popularity has attracted so many followers, solitude is often difficult to find. Since you’re transitioning from kayaks to tripping canoes you should take a look at the river runs in that second book. Lots of good mixes between whitewater and lake/pond paddling.

Final suggestion. If you have the backwoods experience, look for the remote routes that require at least one killer portage. These “barriers” almost always leave behind the casual trippers who insist on bringing boomboxes and beer into the wilderness.

Happy paddling.


got a friend there
Got a buddy that lives right on the edge of the park, send me an e mail and I’ll hook you up with him . He can give you the low down on every thing you need to know


As for all Canadian paddling destinations, the best source of info is website but here’s my $.02 based on 3 trips there:

If you have the “official” map published by Friends of Algonquin (Box 248, Whitney, Ontario KOJ 2MO) it will show horsepower limitations on those lakes that allow motors. It also lists all 29 access points & daily quota for each. Smaller maps on reverse show types of rtes(biglakes/short portages, whitewater rivers, Bogs w/ wildlife viewings, regular or low maintenance rtes, etc). & landscape types in various zones.

W/ this map you should be able to plan a trip that meets your needs/floats your boat

I’d advise you to avoid Hwy 60 corridor access points, most especially Canoe L. If you don’t mind big water, the Opeongo L access is an exception to this caveat (Opeongo means “Big A$$ Lake” in Huron tongue & will take you a full day to paddle across - Water taxi option) Instead recommend you go for Eastern or Northern access points reached from Hwy 17.

I can make the Sand Lake gate near Petawawa in < 2hrs from Ogdensburg-Prescott bridge over St Lawrence R. If you use I-81 TI bridge & drive inland rather than 401 E to 417 expect more traffic & much less direct rte.

Barron R canyon/Grand L area is scenic but like most/all of Algonquin is very popular. As you know, more portages from access = less company

Expect bugs

Enjoy !

I have been to Algonquin Park for 2 trips and it is a great place. If you have the chance, definitly do it.

Here are some pointers I would give you. Plan to go in July. Black flies and insects are extremely bad the end of May to the end of June. I went mid-June one time and had to wear a bug net over my head most of the trip and use a lot of insect repellant. This is annoying and makes the trip less fun. I went in July 2001 and the bugs aren’t nearly as bad in July. I was prepared with my bug net, but never had to use it. There were few bugs and a little insect repellant did the trick.

As far as motor boats go, most of the larger lakes that are access points allow them. I have accessed the park from Smoke Lake and Galeairy Lake. Both allowed motor boats, but I really didn’t see that many. I also didn’t want to be bothered by motor boats so I quickly paddled these lakes and portaged to the next and never saw or heard a motor boat the rest of the trip.

Officaial Algonquin Park Sites:

Check out these trip planners:

If you don’t have a map download one here:

Email me if you have any questions


More Algonquin Trip Routes

thanks for the advice. I have the “brook trout …” book and it’s a very good resource. A new edition is releasing any day and I expect it this week, hopefully with additional routes described. Paddling Ontario is on order, should get that in a couple weeks. Starting to eliminate some possible routes and narrowing down the search a little. There’s a Lake Louisa route that looks pretty tempting that I’m exploring further among several others. So much water, so many choices!

Cedar Lake loop
We’ve been to Algonquin three times so far. My favorite loop, if the water levels are OK, is out of Cedar Lake and back down through the Nipissing River. Lots of moose and a nice river paddle if you like that kind of stuff. McIntosh Lake was memorable with several really nice campsites (especially the one on the rocky point).

Leave your fishing gear at home. Bring good portage boots.

Go in June
Algonquin is lower than the Adirondack canoeing area( a little more southerly climate) and the bug season is a little earlier by maybe a week. I like early to mid June among your time frame. I find July is way way too crowded.

If you can endure the ADK black flies, Algonquins will be tolerable. The worst ever black fly problem I ever had was Memorial Day weekend at Cranberry Lake.

Ice out was relatively early this year and I am not anticipating a bad bug season. Last year in early June its was great; a Route 60 access and only four people seen in six days.