Backpacking In Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park – 1998

Seems a long time ago this. My step-daughter, Abi, was only about 9 or 10 years old and we took her over to Ontario for the summer holidays. We spent some time with my parents – who lived in a town called Dunnville at the time – but just couldn’t resist getting out into the outdoors for a short backpacking trip as well.

Abi had done loads of day walks with us in the UK, but never any overnighters, so as this was going to be her first one we made sure it was both easy and only for one night.

She had to carry her ‘fair share’ of gear mind – although of course we were very kind to her and did in fact carry all the heavy stuff ourselves – including a three-man tent. Abi definitely wanted to be snuggled inbetween us overnight in bear country – not on her own!

There are no great mountains in Ontario but miles and miles of rolling, tree-covered hills and Algonquin Park was only about a half day’s drive from my parent’s house, so seemed like a reasonable place to go.

The park is mainly known as a canoe packing place with over 1600km of canoe ‘routes’, but also has several backpacking and day walk trails.


It’s also know as a haven for a thriving wolf population and many people go out hiking to try and ‘howl’ with the packs on an evening.

Anyway, for our little trip, we chose to do a short section of what is known as the Highland Backpacking Trail.


This route took in a circuit of Provoking Lake, although views of the lake were infrequent through the density of the trees.


Being the middle of August, the weather was not only decidedly hot, but also incredibly humid.  Black flies – Canada’s equivalent of the dreaded midge – abounded and munched on us ceaselessly as we wended our way.


We walked about eleven hot kilometres on that first day. To be fair, Abi never moaned at all, but just kept trudging wearily along.


I have to say that even to us it seemed like an eternity before we spotted the wild ‘campsite’ where we planned to spend the night.


It was a lovely spot though, right on the shore of the lake and we soon got the tent up and started preparing a meal.


There was even a private toilet for the site!


And as the evening wore on and everything cooled down a touch,  the spot took on a very atmospheric feel.


We even tried howling for wolves – but none answered.


We all had a peaceful night, no bears disturbed our sleep and the next day dawned bright and cool.


After breakfast, we packed up and set off on the 7km back to where we’d parked the car.


Every so often, our path would cross with a canoe portage trail.


The walking this day did end up more pleasant than the previous one, as it was still lovely and sunny but a touch less hot and a lot less humid.


And once again – though I’m not entirely convinced that she was totally enamoured with the idea of backpacking – Abi gamely plodded on without a single winge.


But I do believe, that she was secretly quite pleased to get back to the car……..




16 thoughts on “Backpacking In Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park – 1998

  1. Hi Chrissie, delightful story as always. Your photos reveal an incredibly beautiful nature place. Virtual hug and a kiss on Dixie’s chops!


  2. Brings back some great memories. We took a motorhome trip around E Canada when I was 14. Our first night was in the Algonquin , a gorgeous spot called Mist Lake. We were the only people there (it was May) and we cooked over a campfire. Wonderful.
    Looks like a great little backpack although the heat/humidity/flies on the first day would have had me moaning. A kayak trip around the lakes would be cool


  3. Hi Andy, glad I brought back some good memories for you 🙂
    Although there are quite a few miles of hiking trails there, I think the park is really a multi-day canoeing destination rather than a backpacking mecca.
    And although Abi was a little star on our trip, I should’ve really mentioned that Geoff did nothing but moan constantly about the heat/humidity/flies etc…………


  4. Not sure I’d have wanted to attract any wolves by howling for them – wouldn’t you have been worried if a pack of them had turned up? I wouldn’t be too keen on the bigger bear species either.

    It must be in most (pet) animals deep-down instincts still to hate the sound of wolves howling as we used to do that in front of our cat sometimes and she hated it! Next door’s dog used to look pretty scared too.

    Good idea to just take a newbie for a single overnight – far better than taking them for several days and possibly putting them off for good! We used to have to carry most of our own stuff too when our parents took us hiking – made us feel like the real thing though 🙂

    I often wonder about canoe-portage – aren’t they rather heavy and cumbersome for one person to cart? Especially if they have their luggage too… I did a spot of open-canoeing on Windermere – quite liked it but I definitely prefer rowing.


    1. We had it on good authority from the Algonquin Rangers that the wolves are not interested in people at all…….! And I have to admit, that although we’re quite blase and easy-going in black bear country, we are a touch more on edge with grizzlies.
      I don’t know what our dogs would do if they heard real wolves howling, but if we howl, Tilly loves to join in!

      Abi has joined us on the odd backpacking trip since – in both Yosemite and the Peak District – so we obviously didn’t put her off totally. These days though, she’s more into snowboarding when it comes to outdoor stuff; after all, you don’t need to carry a heavy rucsac with that!

      I thought that that canoe portage stuff looked like far too much hard work to be fun, although I think it is possible to pay extortionate amounts of money to get very lightweight ones. Never actually done canoeing myself really – I think I’d spend too much time in the water 🙂


  5. Looks great. Our own daughter is of a similar age. She would jump at the chance to do this. I just need to convince her mum to come too.
    Or buy a donkey.


      1. Hmmm. I think that they’re equally unlikely.
        Now then, equally unlikely outcomes, could they be mapped using isoflukes? Isohaps?


          1. Oh sorry – inventing new words for a ridiculous concept. Why would that lose you? Just ignore me wittering on….


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