Algonquin Park Canoe Routes

One of the questions we get asked most often is, “what’s the best canoe route in Algonquin Park”, and that’s a hard question to answer.  You have to consider that there’s over 2,000 km of canoe routes across Algonquin Park’s 7,630 square kilometres.  That’s a lot of canoe routes!  So much so that few peCanoe le ever manager to explore all of them.  For many they discover one canoe route and may return to it over and over, for others it may be the search for true undiscovered country that drive them to dry a different canoe route every time they visit Algonquin Park.

You have to keep the perspective that Algonquin Park is larger than large cities, it’s even larger than some small countries.  In fact it’s larger than about 1/3 of the small countries in the world, making it almost the same size as the island of Jamaica.

Don’t let the size of Algonquin Park deter you, there’s lost of easy to explore day trips and canoe routes.

Algonquin Park larger than Toronto
Algonquin Park overlaid on top of Toronto, shows it would cover from Kitchener to Oshawa, from nearly Niagara Falls to nearly Barrie.

Algonquin Park Canoe Routes Map

We highly recommend starting your canoe route planning using The Friends of Algonquin Park Canoe Route Map, it’s a great way to get your bearing around the park, it’s simple to read and use and contains all the details you need for any basic canoe trip.  From there you may consider more detailed maps like the Chrismar Adventure Maps or the new Unlostify Map, scheduled to be available summer 2019.  With these more detailed maps you will want to know where you plan to travel as you need to purchase several of them to cover Algonquin Park.  They are designed to offer more details in specific areas once you know where you plan on going.  You an buy maps online from our online store.


Day-Trip or Multi-day Canoe Trip?

You’ll also want to consider how long you have to explore Algonquin Park, not every one has 8-10 days to plan a trip that really explores the back country and wilderness of Algonquin Park.  There’s lots of options for those who only have a day or two to explore Algonquin Park by canoe, kayak, foot or bike.

Here’s a few examples of canoe trip routes in Algonquin Park.  There’s many more to discover and explore.

Ragged Falls Day-Trip

One of our most popular day trips! Enjoy an easy three to four-hour lake and river paddle to scenic Ragged Falls and back. This self-guided trip departs right from the dock of our Oxtongue Lake store.

Bring a picnic lunch – once you see the falls from your canoe, you’ll want to get out, hike to the top, and take in the awesome beauty of this spectacular cataract. If you don’t have time to take the trip to Ragged Falls, you can explore the scenic bay just beyond our dock.

Trip Length: 3-4 hours  [more info]

Ragged Falls Day Trip

Costello Creek Day-Trip

The Costello Creek trip is a perfect two-hour guided trip for people on a tighter time schedule. This thoroughly enjoyable wilderness paddling experience includes all necessary equipment and the services of an experienced and knowledgeable guide. Our guide will teach you basic paddling skills so you can easily enjoy a few hours paddling a wilderness creek to Turtle Rock and back.

Available as a guided or self guided trip.

Trip Length: 2 hours  [more info]

Costello Creek Day Trip

Hailstorm Creek Guided Day-Trip

This unique half-day experience allows day-trippers to explore wild and scenic Hailstorm Creek without having to worry about paddling on a big lake. Our water taxi transports people and canoes (or kayaks) safely from our Opeongo store to the heart of Algonquin Park in just 20 minutes. You’ll spend rest of the time exploring the Hailstorm Creek Nature Reserve, enjoying excellent wildlife viewing and picturesque scenery. Don’t forget to bring along a camera and capture the moment as you round the bend and, for possibly the first time, see a moose, beaver, heron or loon in its natural habitat. The water taxi will return to pick you up at a prearranged time. Don’t miss out on this premium guided day trip – the paddling is not strenuous, navigation is easy and this experience can be enjoyed by beginner and expert paddlers alike.

Trip Length: 4+ hours  [more info]

Hailstorm Creek Day Trip

Other Day Trips

There’s lots of options for a day-trip in Algonquin Park beyond just these three signature routes.  You can paddle from most campgrounds with canoes, kayaks and paddleboards from our campground delivery service. We also have a full list of day-trips that you can explore on the Day Trip page, you’ll find lots of other canoe or kayak routes, fishing trips and even a mountain biking day-trip along the Old Railway Bike Trail that departs right from our Lake of Two Rivers Store, Cafe and Grill.  Looking for something special, give our booking and information line a call at 1-800-469-4948 and they can custom design a day trip for you or your group.


Multi-Day Canoe Trips

Our specialty since 1961 has been the custom multi-day canoe trip.  This is the way to really explore and get to know Algonquin Park, you get to discover more than just a day, you get to discover the night too.  If you’ve never seen the night sky away from city lights they you really have to see it like you can see it few other places.   Algonquin Park offers some of the best dark sky viewing where you can easily see all of the northern constellations, the Milky Way disk, shooting stars and satellites as they pass over, and if your really lucky you may be treated to an amazing display of Northern Lights.

You’ll also have a much better chance of seeing Algonquin Park’s famous wildlife, nearly every lake in the back country you’ll find Loons and Mergansers as well as the king of Algonquin Park, the North American Moose.  It’s true that there’s black bears and wolves in Algonquin Park too but you’ll seldom see them specially if you keep a clean campsite and hang your food at night so it’s out of their reach.  You’re actually more likely to come across a bothersome bear in Algonquin Park campgrounds than in the back country.

There’s several classic canoe routes that we’ll explore briefly here but we encourage you to give our booking and information line a call when you have an Algonquin Park map in front of you and we can discuss custom route choices based on your length of stay, skill and experience levels and what your dreams and wishes are.  We also offer fully guided canoe trips where we not only provide all of the camping gear, a delicious meal plan, a lightweight canoe and an experienced guide to help you have the best trip possible.  Our guided trips are all custom around your needs and wants but we do have a limited number of guides so we highly suggest you book early, typically 4-8 weeks in advance.

Rock Lake to Pen Lake Canoe Trip

Paddling from Rock Lake to Pen Lake is a simple canoe route for the paddler graduating from campground camping to wilderness camping.  This route only involves one short portage of 375 metres where you’ll carry your canoe and gear from Rock Lake to Pen Lake, there’s a little side trail to a waterfall where it’s a great opportunity to have lunch before arriving at your campsite on Pen Lake.  To have a quieter say you can travel one lake further to Clydegale Lake where you will have no canoe traffic through the lake.  If you wish to make the return trip longer you can travel east over the 1680m and 80m portages into Galeairy Lake and then over the 100m portage around the dam back into Rock Lake.

We would recommend our Lightweight or Deluxe outfitting package for a trip like this.  Trip Length: 2+ days

Rock to Pen Canoe Route

Tim to Rosebary Lake Canoe Route

If you’re seeking a little less busy canoe route than what you’ll find off of Highway #60 (The Corridor) we highly recommend visiting the West Side of Algonquin Park.  Here you’ll find more wilderness and less people, a true back country feel with out having to travel for days.  One of the hidden gems on the west side is the Tim River paddle to Rosebary Lake.  This takes a little more paddling experience but still only has one portage of 120 metres.  If the water is high you can take a little short cut through the center island on Tim Lake, if the water is low you’ll have to paddle around.  There’s some good chance to see moose and other wildlife on the Tim River before and after Rosebary Lake.  We highly recommend doing a day-trip from your campsite on Rosebary east to Longbow Lake or even further down the Tim River as the chance to see more wildlife is even greater the further you travel.

We would recommend our Deluxe or Lightweight outfitting package for this trip.  Trip Length: 3+ days

Tim to Rosebary Canoe Route

Canoe to Big Trout Canoe Route

A popular mid length canoe route starting from Canoe Lake on Highway #60 is the Canoe Lake to Big Trout loop.  This is a mid length canoe trip that will take you deeper into the back country of Algonquin Park, you’ll spend several days canoeing to a new campsite on a different lake each night.  Longer trips like this offer you the chance to explore more of Algonquin Park, get into the canoeing and camping grove and often offer the best chance to see some of Algonquin Park’s famous wildlife.  If you enjoy taking picture of fishing there will be more opportunity and time for that too.  If you have a little more time to spend we would recommend adding a base camp day, where you do not move your campsite on one of these lakes; Otterslide, Big Trout or MacIntosh.  This allows for a day of rest and play where you have more time at camp and less time paddling to your next destination.

We would recommend our Ultimate (for first time trippers) or Lightweight outfitting package for this trip. This trip is also great as a mid length guided tripTrip Length: 5+ days

Canoe to Big Trout Loop

Other Multi-Day Canoe Trips

Where the true beauty of Algonquin Park shines is discovering your own canoe trip route, the routes above are just samples of routes you may consider when planning an Algonquin Park Canoe trip.  Many visitors spend hours looking over the Algonquin Park Canoe Route Map, researching websites and forums to come up with what they feel is the best route for their visit.  We’ve been planning canoe trips in Algonquin Park since 1961, we’d love to plan something special for you.  Please feel free to reach out to our booking and information line where one of our experienced guides can help you plan, organize and book your custom canoe trip today.  1-800-469-4948


Challenging Canoe Routes

Lastly there’s a group of paddlers out there that have been to Algonquin Park or other paddling destinations many times, they have months and sometimes years of paddling experience under their belts and they are looking for a challenge.  Algonquin provides just such a challenge for them too. Historic and challenging routes offer the chance to add your name to the list of explorers who have came before you.  Sometime there’s glory and even prizes to be had by accomplishing some of these routes.

The Brent Run

The origin and history of the Brent run is a little bit of a mystery, it dates back to sometime in the 1930’s with the first official record of the Brent run being completed in 1934 by Bill Stoqua and Bill Little.  They completed their 162km Brent Run from Canoe Lake to Brent on Cedar Lake and back again in 32 hours.

Many have tried but few have succeeded in concurring the elusive 24hour challenge from Canoe to Brent and back again.

Challenging trips like this require specialized lightweight gear, we would recommend some of our lightest Swift Canoes.   Trip Length: 2-4 days

Brent Run

The Algonquin Outfitters Muskoka River X

This one’s not actually in Algonquin Park but it’s on the historic Muskoka River between Huntsville and Bracebridge.  The Algonquin Outfitters Muskoka River X holds the title of the “world’s longest single day expedition paddling race“.  It covers a challenging 133km paddling route that includes 20 portages and travels down and up stream.  Racers push themselves for 24 hours to complete the distance before the time runs out.  You’ll also find some fun races in this series to, so it’s idea for anyone wanting a challenging paddling race.

You can find more information at www.muskokariverx.com or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Muskoka River X

Algonquin Outfitters’ Meanest Link

The Meanest Link is a canoe route in Algonquin Park. Named after one of the founders of Algonquin Outfitters, Bill Swift Sr., also known as Swifty, Meanest, or Mean Dude, The “Meanest” Link route connects the four Algonquin Outfitters stores of Brent, Opeongo, Oxtongue Lake and Huntsville. It was created by Alex Hurley and Gord Baker in the summer of 2004, and since then many AO staff and others have completed one or more of the four sections of the trip. The “full link” is an arduous trip and has completed a few times by AO staff members, groups from Camp Pathfinder and a few other dedicated souls.

You can find more information on our Meanest Link page or Facebook Group

What are you waiting for?

We hope this page has inspired you to seriously consider an Algonquin Park canoe trip in your near future.  It doesn’t matter if your just visiting for a day or two, or if you are looking for an Algonquin Park backcountry wilderness experience over 5 or more days, or if your looking for a challenge, Algonquin Park offers something for everyone.  We encourage you to pick up the phone and give one of our guides a call to start planning your Algonquin Park adventure today.

Information and reservations: 1-800-469-4948