This year’s trip to Algonquin Park was one of the best. Even though we went on a peak fall colours weekend, Saturday’s forecast of rain detoured travellers planning a day trip and we practically had the park to ourselves.
We drove in on a Friday morning and arrived in the park by 10:00am. Our plan was to do the Centennial Ridges trail again, because the fall views we encountered last year were stunning. Mother Nature had other plans.
Just after we passed the third trail marker, right before the beaver dam, we were warned by two groups of hikers to not go any further. Their faces swollen, they had been stung multiple times near their eyes. An agitated hive was up ahead and since we were with our little one, there was no way we were risking Elowyn getting stung. We turned back and decided to venture on a trail we had yet to try, Booth’s Rock.
Turns out, everything happens for a reason. Booth’s Rock was gorgeous. The fall views from the top of the lookout were arguably even more breathtaking than Centennial Ridges. I highly recommend this trail, even if you have young kids. Elowyn, who will be three in November, was able to do most of the trail on her own with minimal assistance. Though we did have our toddler hiking backpack for when she was ready to fall asleep.
Saturday morning started off rainy, but that didn’t detour us from heading back into the park. We figured we would check out the visitor’s center and art gallery until the weather cleared up. Elowyn really enjoyed the life-sized animal exhibits and the paintings featuring wildlife. I found a gorgeous bear coaster and a carved raccoon pencil from the art gallery gift shop; there was also a self-serve coffee station.
Next we tried the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, a short accessible trail perfect for rainy days. Since most of the trail consists of a boardwalk and the remaining dirt path had a plentiful layer of pine needle coverage, it wasn’t muddy. There were a lot of beautiful flora along this trail and Elowyn was getting her steps in by running up and down the boardwalks.
Whiskey Rapids seemed like a good option to try a few hours before sunset because it was short and rated less difficult than other trails. There were some stunning river views but not as many opportunities to view the fall colours compared to trails with a lookout.
With hiking boots, the significant muddiness of the trail wasn’t a problem for us.
We did notice other groups wearing running shoes who were struggling in heavy patches of mud. One woman’s shoe actually came off and she ended up catching her balance, but still ended up with a sock covered in mud.
A few more great spots to stop for a picnic or pictures: the Western Uplands trailhead, the Lake of Two Rivers picnic areas, Rock Lake picnic area and beach, Source Lake, and Found Lake visible from the Art Gallery parking lot.
Travel Eats worth mentioning: The butter tarts from Erika’s Bakery, the Muskoka Cloud, shortbread cookies, and pumpkin spice latte from Henrietta’s Pine bakery and the summer BBQ from 3 Guys and a Stove were all exceptional.
Something to note: if like me you don’t eat dairy, you may want to bring your own milk alternative. Most coffee places in the area don’t offer dairy-free options. Lucky for me, Henrietta’s Pine bakery did!
I saved my favorite picture for the end….
This year, Elowyn’s favorite activity was throwing pebbles into every body of water we encountered. She averaged 5km of hiking per day and impressed us with her ability to traverse rugged terrain with little to no assistance. Help, she’s growing up too fast!