Day Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park holds a special place in my heart; for as long as I can remember I have been hiking these gorgeous trails. My family has a long history with these pristine lakes and rolling hills. My late grandmother fell in love with Algonquin in 1945, when she was just 10 years old. She spent every summer at Camp Inawendiwin (Dorset, ON) and took countless canoe and hiking trips in Algonquin throughout her life. In 1971, she first brought my aunt and mother to stay at Arowhon Pines, beginning a family tradition of exploring the park together. My mother passed this tradition down to me. Algonquin is an important piece of my history, and I still find the same joy and wonder in these peaceful woods as I did on those childhood summer trips.
A great way for anyone to enjoy Algonquin is to hike one of the eighteen interpretive walking trails throughout the park. The trails can be appreciated by people of all hiking experiences and abilities, and children of all ages. Some trails are accessible by wheelchair. The length of the trails range from 1.0 to 10.8 km and each trail offers a unique glimpse into the ecological diversity of the park. A trail guide is available at the beginning of each interpretive walking trail that provides extensive information on the plants and animals in the area as well as historical figures who helped to form the park into what it is today. Your hiking efforts will be rewarded with stunning vistas, peeks into Algonquin’s fascinating history, and the peace and quiet of a tranquil lakeside. If you’re lucky you may even be treated to a close encounter with deer, beaver, various birds, or even a moose.
My Favourite Day Hiking Trails in Algonquin
1. Centennial Ridges Trail (10.4km, difficult*)
This has been my favourite trail for several years. It is a physically demanding trail with steep climbs and descents that takes you up and down two high ridges in Algonquin. It offers numerous lookouts to see the beauty of Algonquin from above. I particularly love hiking this trail in the fall to see an endless panorama of the leaves changing colour. Algonquin Provincial Park suggests that you plan to take six hours to complete this trail. – http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/centennial-ridges-trail.php
This is a video about hiking the Centennial Ridges Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park in Fall of 2017. It includes footage of the beautiful landscapes and lookouts that are along the trail as well as some of the wildlife.
2. Booth’s Rock Trail (5.1km, difficult*)
Booth’s Rock Trail is another trail with beautiful lookouts, my favourite being the lookout onto Rock Lake. This trail has steep climbs and descents as well as some flat sections that were once used for railway lines. The trail guide provides an interesting history of the logging industry in Algonquin. This trail takes a couple of hours to complete and it is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. – http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/booths-rock-trail.php
3. Spruce Bog Boardwalk (1.5km, easy*)
This is an easy and relaxing boardwalk trail that immerses you in the spruce bog. The spruce bog is an environment that is unlike any of the other areas of the park that are accessible by the interpretive walking trails. There are many opportunities to sit and enjoy the scenery and read the trail guide booklet to learn how bogs are formed. This trail is also wheelchair accessible. – http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/spruce-bog-boardwalk-trail.php
* rating provided by Algonquin Provincial Park
What to Wear:
- Bring clothes that will be comfortable to wear in the cooler morning and warmer afternoon temperatures
- In the summer, I like to wear loose, long, light-coloured clothing to keep cool and to protect myself from the sun and bug bites
2. Good Shoes
- Wear shoes with better ankle support when hiking longer trails and/or those with difficult terrain
- If it is raining or the trail is wet, make sure that you are wearing shoes with adequate grip to avoid slipping
- I wear Keen’s Koven Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Wear SPF 30 or higher during peak UV hours
- There is a mix of shady and sunny sections on almost every trail and it is important to have proper eye protection while hiking
5. Bug spray
- This is a must between June-August when mosquitoes and black flies are most abundant
- If you prefer to not wear bug spray, a bug jacket can be used instead
What to Pack:
1. Plenty of Water
- Some trails in Algonquin require a significant amount of time to complete without opportunities to refill your water bottle
- I use the Nalgene Wide-Mouth 1L Bottle to ensure that I drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day
- Bring calorie-dense light-weight foods to avoid a heavy backpack
- Examples include: sandwiches, nuts, dried fruit, granola, cheese and crackers, dried meats, etc.
- Try to bring your food in reusable bags or containers to avoid littering in the park
- Make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day
4. First-Aid Kit
- Many of the trails have roots, rocks and uneven ground and even the most experienced hiker can stumble
- I take bandages, alcohol-based unscented sanitizer, tweezers (for tick removal), and tensor bandages
5. An Extra Pair of Socks
- If you are hiking in the rain, going through low-water crossings or hiking on a hot day there is a very likely chance that your socks are going to get wet
- Have a change of socks on hand to make your feet more comfortable and to prevent blisters
- My personal favourites are the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
6. Flashlight / Headlamp
- Bring this along just in case you get delayed on your trail and must hike at dusk or in the dark
Get outdoors and start your own tradition in Algonquin Provincial Park today!
More Videos from Lauren
Oxtongue River Ragged Falls Provincial Park
A visit to Ragged Falls in early October.
Camping at Rock Lake – Algonquin Park
A two night camping adventure in Algonquin Park, Ontario at the Rock Lake campground. It was a pretty chilly weekend, but the campground was beautiful! Let me show you around 🙂
Other Useful Links
- Algonquin Day Hiking Trails (Map)
- Hiking: Where can I hike in Algonquin Park?
- Algonquin's Interpretive Walking Trails
- Backpacking in Algonquin Park
- Algonquin Park's Adopt-A-Trail
- Smartwool Socks
- Original Bug Shirt
- Keen Footwear
- Arowhon Pines resort in Algonquin Park
Laura is a PhD Candidate from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario. When she is not in the lab she enjoys hiking, camping, skiing, ballet, photography, and filming nature and travel videos for her YouTube channel.