Outdoor Activities in Ontario’s Massive Algonquin Provincial Park

Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ontario Parks by hiking, paddling or renting a cabin in the province’s first provincial park.

Photo by Sashy29/Getty

Algonquin Provincial Park is a sprawling 763,000 hectares (that’s larger than P.E.I.). There are beautiful trees, trails, maple hills, rivers, rocky ridges and thousands of lakes. There’s also plenty of wildlife to experience including majestic loons, Spruce Grouse, moose and turtles.

Just last year, the park welcomed nearly one million visitors from Toronto to Munich. It’s Ontario’s first provincial park and with the parks system’s 125th anniversary happening this year, there’s even more reason to explore.

Whether you’re interested in canoeing or backcountry camping, there’s something for everyone to do this summer. Here are a few highlights.

Canoeing and kayaking

There’s a lake, a river and a route for every paddling experience level. Canoes are as common a sight here as loons. For kayakers, adventures can last a few hours to multi-night trips without portages (which kayakers prefer). Although some do try riding the frothy white waters, Algonquin really shines as a flatwater canoeing and kayaking paddling destination. The park cautions about white-water paddling as water conditions are unpredictable.

Algonquin Outfitters at Lake Opeongo (the park’s biggest lake) rents both canoes and kayaks. It’s located near the park’s main road, Highway 60. They will put your canoe right into the water for you or deliver to any campground. They also offer guided trips and lessons for beginners.

Cabin rentals

Eight decades ago, 115 rustic cabins were scattered throughout the Algonquin interior, mostly for the use of park rangers. Today, just 14 of these Ontario Parks-run cabins are left and all but one are available for rent. The cabins have no electricity or running water. Five cabins are “drive-to access” while the other nine can only be accessed by canoe. For something with more modern comforts, the three-bedroom West Wind and Deli Ma Care waterfront cabins at Bartlett Lodge are raved about as the finest guest cabins in the park. For availability and reservations, visit reservations.ontarioparks.com.

Rock Bass Family Fishing Day

Algonquin Park may be the world’s biggest fishin’ hole. Its lakes are home to 54 species of fish and it has some of the best trout fishing in with lake trout in 149 lakes and brook trout in 230 lakes. Rock Bass Family Fishing Day happens on July 7 this year just off Highway 60 at Whitefish Lake. After the fishing fun, volunteers will filet the fish on-the-spot and treat visitors to a fish fry.

Wolf Howl nights

Thursday nights in August are Wolf Howl nights, weather permitting and if park naturalists have confirmed a wolf pack in the area. It happens at the Outdoor Theatre located at the 35.4-kilometre marker on Highway 60. Each Wolf Howl night can draw up to 2,000 tourists from around the world. Expect to hear yipping and yapping from the pups and deeper, longer howls from the adults.

Fun fact: As part of Ontario Park’s 125th anniversary, a time-capsule will be buried on August 22. It will be opened in 2043, for the park’s 150th anniversary.