Wonderful Winter Activities in Algonquin Park
During family day weekend 2017, I spent my time in Algonquin Park attending the Winter in the Wild Demonstration portion of the event, displaying my hot tent. It was a fabulous weekend and there were so many people in the park winter adventuring! I spent some of every day checking out the trails and area and was amazed at all the different things you can do in winter in the park. Here are a few:
Hiking can mostly be done year round in the park, unless the snow has not been packed down by previous attendees. There are so many interpretive trails offered and many of them are open in the winter. While visiting, I checked out the Logging Museum Trail, Spruce Bog and Peck Lake. I also spent some time on the Highland Backpacking Trail which you can get onto right from the Mew Lake Campground and the Railway Trail, also accessible by walking from the Mew Lake Campground. Other trails that are open in the winter are Mizzy Lake , Bat Lake and Two Rivers Trails. No matter your age or level of fitness, it’s easy to find a great trail to hike in Algonquin Park.
When the snow is new or the trails have not been broken in, or are very deep with snow or icy, exploring the park by snowshoe is a great way to check things out! I love snowshoeing in the Park and you can do it almost anywhere there is snow. There is no great skill required, just strap the snowshoes on, and off you go. If you can walk, you can snowshoe and there is nothing more peaceful than walking through a fresh layer of white stuff, listening to the sounds of nature and exploring the area this way.
Cross Country Skiing
Algonquin Park is full of cross country ski trails for every skill level! If you are winter camping at Mew Lake, you can ski right from the parking lot by the Mew Lake Airfield and you have a few options to proceed from there. You can also drive to one of the many trails throughout the park and can find conditions listed here. Many of the trails have hot tents set up, or warming stations, places you can stop for a snack or even make a hot lunch. Cross country skiing is a great way to explore the park and cover a fair distance easily. Click here for more information on the ski and snowshoe trails, including maps and where you can rent gear!
Mew Lake Campground is host to an excellent skating rink located by the comfort station. It is created where the parking lot is in the other seasons. The rink is taken care of by the amazing Ontario Parks staff and Mew Lake Campground hosts and as long as the weather is cooperating, the rink is maintained. You will find a few shovels in case you feel like cleaning the snow off. Feel free to play some hockey, nets are provided in case you want to get a game of pickup going with some of your fellow campers or just go for a leisurely skate! When you get tired or need a break, or are watching someone else having a skate, there is a hot tent and fire pit right beside the rink to help warm you up.
While I was out snowshoeing, we ran across a very nice couple who were fat biking on the rail trail by Mew Lake. They told me they had never done it before, but were really enjoying themselves and so far so good! If you haven’t seen them around, or don’t know what they are, fat bikes are basically a bike with really big tires, built for all terrain. I saw photos online last week of someone winter camping via fat bike with a fully packed toboggan in tow! How fun would that be to try out? Click here to check out places to fat bike in Algonquin, and get rental information.
Believe it or not, there are people out dog sledding in Algonquin Park! As we were returning to the parking area beside the airfield at Mew Lake, we ran into a couple who were on their way out to do just that. There are two dog sledding trails located in Algonquin Park, The Sunday Lake Trail and the North Algonquin Trail. The trails can also be used for skiing, snowshoeing, and skijoring (with dogs), but you must strictly obey the rules of the trails. If you are interested in dog sledding in Algonquin Park, there is a list of businesses on the Algonquin Outfitters dog sledding trails page that you can contact to make such arrangements.
Many people flock to Algonquin Park to watch the birds! Some birds that you might get to see are the gray jay, spruce grouse, boreal chickadee, blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches and winter finches. There is a bird feeder located at the visitor centre which can be viewed, or you can attempt to feed the birds by hand, which is something we were able to do while at Mew Lake. The airfield is a great place to visit with them, and I also noticed many at the Logging Museum Trail and Spruce Bog Boardwalk. You’ll have them eating out of your hands!
One of my favorite activities to do in Algonquin in the winter is looking for tracks! Even though the bears are sleeping (we hope), the park is full of many other creatures including but not limited to: deer, moose, martens, fishers, hares, otters, fox and wolves. I have a track book I picked up at one of the Ontario Parks stores and I bring it along on all my outings. When I find some tracks, I check them against my book to see what made the tracks. It’s amazing how many animals are walking around that you never see. In the summer, you think they’re around, but only in winter do you really know for sure by seeing the tracks they leave behind in the snow.
Another one of my favorite things to do in Algonquin Park year round is take photos. In winter, there is something so peaceful and serene about the area. The snow makes a very unique and cool backdrop for wildlife, vegetation, waterfalls and also can be an incredible subject all on it’s own. One comment I receive continuously about most of my winter photos is the sky is so blue! I still haven’t figured out if the sky is actually bluer, or if it just looks that way with the white snow contrasting it, but regardless, it truly does assist in making some great photos!
My most favorite thing to do in the winter in Algonquin Park, which ties many of the things above together, is winter camping! Car camping or yurting can be done at Mew Lake Campground. Both hydro sites and non hydro sites can be reserved upon arrival, however, if you are aiming to stay in a yurt, it’s suggested you book well in advance to avoid disappointment. Backcountry camping can be done in many areas of the park except on designated summer sites. It is recommended to choose a site that is sheltered and has a good amount of dead standing wood. You must also ensure you are a minimum of 30m from any water source, portage or trail.
I’m sure there are many other winter activities you can do in Algonquin Park that I have yet to see. If you know of some others, or just want to share your experience from some of the ones listed above, please leave a comment or post a photo. We’d love to see them! If you have questions, need further information or require rentals, check out Algonquin Outfitters Rentals for further information.
I hope whichever activity you do, that you remember to pack some extra food and water and dress appropriately for the weather. It is amazing adventuring and exploring in the wintertime, and even better if you are adequately prepared for your outing!
Camper Christina at Algonquin Park’s Winter in the Wild Festival 2017
Other Useful Links
- Winter in Algonquin Park
- Winter in the Wild Festival
- Winter camping in Mew Lake Campground
- Algonquin Park Nordic Ski Trails
- Algonquin Park Winter Fat Bike Trail
- Cross Country Ski Rentals
- Snowshoe Rentals
- Winter Fat Bike Rentals
My name is Christina, also known as Camper Christina. I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, but moved to Muskoka to be closer to the places I adventure. My greatest passion is exploring new places and writing about them. Some of my favorite hobbies are camping, kayaking, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, skating, photography and blogging. If you would like to read more about me or my adventures, please check out my blog at CamperChristina.com.