Algonquin Provincial Park is said to be the "jewel" of Canada's Parks. This is the park where I went for my first backcountry-paddling excursion and so it will always remain a reminder of my youth for me. I went there for the first time back in 1994 as a Boy Scout and have since returned twice on my own trips. Each time I have returned it brings back vivid memories of my first time and just how amazing it all was. It was a trip that truly got me hooked on and made me fall in love with paddling. Everything in the light of youth is much brighter, more vivid, and simpler while looking back. Hindsight only makes you realize just how young you really were. The days in Algonquin were bright, warm, summer days, even if it rained the sound of the rolling thunder across the land was soothing, the lakes are clean and clear, water that refreshes the soul, forests as far the eye can see, and the nights were crisp with the stars like frost on the highway of the sky. Moments like these are what make life worth living.
On my first trip to Algonquin we did the northwest corner of the park including lakes such as North Tea, Manitou, Three-Mile, and Biggar. These lakes are large and with some really great campsites. At the right time of year even the larger lakes closer to access points such as these lakes will be virtually empty, although the bug population might be a slight higher. If you've been to Canada in the summer you know all about that.
On my second trip there, we did the center of the park, Opeongo, Dickson, LaVielle, Big Crow, Proulux, and the crow river. I love Algonquin but I must say, never do the crow river, it just about drove me mad, the constant winding and meandering without making more than a couple of feet headway, and the Dickson-Bonfield portage which has been labeled by some, the portage from hell and it took us almost there with it's three and a quarter mile length.
My third and most recent trip to Algonquin took me back through the heart of the trip that I took on my first excursion to the park. This time, being a bit older we added a lot of mileage on to the loop. We did North Tea, Manitou, Kioskiwa, Maple Creek, Maple Lake, Three Mile Lake, and Biggar. This for me was almost a homecoming of sorts, a return to the places that I had started at some years before. As with everything in life, things had changed but, memories were brought back, memories were forged, and memories were made stronger.
Algonquin gives a backcountry feel, but still has numerous other paddlers, and amenities offered only by a park that well maintained, which means that it in fact is not the real back country. Although it still holds to be a beautiful park, it is still a bit too crowed for my tastes. However, there are still times of the year there and places in the park where you can get the feel that you are the only person alive. It really cannot be beat though for its accessibility to the surrounding region of Canada and the United States. Algonquin right now is in a serious trouble, for the tourism trade of blow through car sightseers is making the place more tourist friendly with signs, tourist traps, etc. Now I'm a college student so money holds me back from the places that I keep talking about paddling, but one day I hope to visit them, but never forget where my love for paddling began, the memories gained, and again in the future return to this place of my rebirth.
Overnight Camping Backcountry Permit of less than $10 Canadian per person per night.