In early Spring, the trails along Highway 60 in Algonquin Park are a magical place in the early morning. With few hikers on the trails, you can stop, take a breath and listen to bird songs.
Waking up very early on the Saturday of Victoria Day long weekend, my husband and I drove three hours from Burlington to experience the pastel-coloured landscape and trails at Algonquin Park… and to perhaps see a glimpse of moose at the side of the road.
We decided to hike at least one trail during our visit. We chose Lookout Point. The climb up to Lookout Point at Algonquin Park can be daunting at first. Huffing and puffing up the hills, you wonder if the incline will ever end and if you will reach the lookout area.
Putting in a bit of effort is worth it – as with many of the trails along Highways 60 in Algonquin Park, the Lookout Point is short but memorable. The view is spectacular, once you get to the top.
At 1.9 km, the trail isn’t overly long. A well-worn gravel pathway leads to you the top, where you have to be careful of roots and rocks, particularly after the rain. There’s no barrier between you and the steep drop below.
What you see at the top is several hundred square kilometres of the park below. In the fall it must be spectacular, but even in the spring, the vista below you is beautiful. The trees in early spring are a mix of pastel light greens, mauvey-browns and the occasional spiky, dark-green fir tree. The lighter trees look like somebody used a sponge with light green paint, dabbing it on a canvas.
This is also a quiet trail to view early spring plants – from fiddleheads turning into baby ferns to Trilliums that carpet the forest floor.
Trails along the Highway 60 Corridor
There are a number of hiking trails that are accessible off of Highway 60 ranging from a short one hour hike to one that will require a day or two, depending on your stamina and endurance.
We did only the Lookout Point Trail during our trip, but also briefly stopped at Peck Lake – a very quiet spot that’s about 1.9 km of a loop trail and at Whiskey Rapids.
There are other trails off of Highway 60 including:
- Hardwood Lookout Trail (0.8 km)
- Algonquin Logging Museum Trail (1.3 km)Whiskey Rapids (2.1 km trail)
- Spruce Bog Boardwalk (1.5 km loop trail)
- Peck Lake Trail (1.9 km loop trail)
- Beaver Pond Trail (2.0 km loop trail)
- Two Rivers Trail (2.1 km loop trail)
- Big Pines Trail (2.9 km loop trail)
- Hemlock Bluff Trail (3.5 km loop trail)
- Booth’s Rock Trail (5.1 km loop trail)
- Bat Lake Trail (5.6 km loop trail)
- Centennial Ridges Trail (10 km loop trail; very demanding)
- Mizzy Lake (11 km trail – a full day trail; no dogs permitted on this trail)
Check out Algonquin Park’s list for more details.
To truly get an in-depth experience of the topography and ecology of the area, I would probably spend a few days camping and hiking these trails. While spring-time might not appeal to those like me (who prefer warmer nights sleeping in a tent), it’s the best time to avoid a multitude of summer bugs and mosquitoes.
As well, a spring visit to explore the trails at Algonquin Park is the best time to get up close to a moose. There are sightings along the Highway 60 corridor. If you keep your eyes on marshy areas on the side of the road, chances are you’ll see one feeding.
Moose will stand quietly and pose for a photo, but my recommendation is to not hang around too long and not get too close. They can be unpredictable and you don’t want to be trampled by a spooked moose.
The other benefit of a spring visit to Algonquin Park is the sound of the birds in a quiet forest. Heading to a trail early in the morning, you are less likely to deal with a horde of hikers making noise and talking. If you stand still for a few minutes, chances are you will hear some beautiful bird songs. I grabbed some video footage at a couple of spots, capturing the birds singing in the trees. Turn up the volume to hear the birds.
The southern part of Algonquin Park is excellent for a drive through, but we also love the northern part. My favourite place for a hike is the super quiet, more remote Barron Canyon. Perhaps our next spring trip to the park will be a jaunt to explore the canyon again.
A few more photos from our visit:
Which trails along Highway 60 in Algonquin Park have you hiked? Which ones do you recommend?