Sunday, November 01, 2015

A walk in the woods - the Lookout Trail

Algonquin Park advertises "The Golden Encore" as a good time to see some different colours in the park after the blush of the sugar maples has died down. Then the yellow leaves of the aspens, birches and tamaracks get their time in the spotlight. Well the tamaracks don't have leaves, they have needles like all the other coniferous trees. They're an anomaly amongst their fellow soft wood trees by having their needles turn yellow in the fall.

Panoramic vista - click on the picture to open it
LT and I have yet to explore the Park along the Highway 60 corridor. This fall was a very busy time and there were a couple of serious accidents with all the traffic. We do prefer to avoid the crowds and we certainly managed that today, November 1st, not only was it late in the season, it was kind of a crappy weather day. The forecast promised sunnier skies in the afternoon, but we really only saw sunshine in our rearview mirror as we were within city limits coming home.

I packed a picnic lunch, picked LT up at 8:30 a.m. (hey, everybody got an extra hour of sleep last night right?) and we set off towards Renfrew, Eganville, Barry's Bay, Whitney, then into the Park. It took a few hours to get there. The traffic wasn't bad today, on our way there or in the park. 

We stopped off at the East Gate to get our permit for the day and some souvenirs. The sky had just opened up when we pulled into the parking lot. Hopefully this would die down soon.

I picked up a couple of interesting publications, a pamphlet about the source of lake names in the Park, and a checklist of birds (yeah, I haven't got much chance of ever using that properly, but it was only $3.50). I don't think we would have needed a park permit if we had only gone to the Visitor's Centre. We planned on doing at least one of the small trails off the highway, and a permit was needed for that activity.

Next stop was the Visitors' Centre. It's very entertaining and we ended up rushing through it because we didn't really allow ourselves enough time for this trip. We walked through the souvenir shop, LT got a tea in the cafeteria, we went out onto the viewing deck, we walked through some of the interior displays, which are well done.  

Algonquin Park has a web cam set up here. It's on the front of the building facing the excellent view.  Here's the link:

I made sure I went out to see the view I'd been looking at every once in a while since this winter when they had hauled out a moose carcass (it had been killed on the highway) for various park natural residents to feast on. And I watched the web cam intently this spring to see when ice out might be happening.

Beside the centre there is an accessible boardwalk that is about 100M long. It goes to a mock-up of a firetower and also has a similar view to the front deck of the centre.

We only had time for one hike, so I picked the Lookout Trail. It's 2.1 km long and has a bit of a climb. The surface the trail is made of is quite easy to walk on, it's packed stone dust, I think.

The trail is a loop. There are numbered posts and a booklet that explains something at each of the posts. Because it was lightly raining, we chose not to take the booklet with us. This trail talks about the geological facts about the Park and how many of the rock formations came to be.

I chose this trail because it was close to the Visitor Centre and because I thought the view might be really nice. The weather did make it a bit harder to see very far, but you can judge for yourself here:

The trail is a really nice one, very pretty.

I'm very glad we had the trail almost all to ourselves. As we were just about finished, another couple came up the path. We exchanged greetings and headed to the parked car to enjoy the picnic.

On a negative note I was disappointed to see how much garbage people left behind. I can see that once in a while when you're opening that much needed granola bar (it's only a short hike, really!) a small corner comes off the wrapper. But there was much more than that. The ultimate horror was a used baby diaper right next to a LARGE McDonald's drink cup. Seriously? This garbage was within 20 paces of the parking lot. Staff must have to pick up the garbage on these short trails off highway 60 on a fairly frequent basis. Okay, rant over.

This little foray into this area of the Park now has us talking very excitedly about exploring a lot more around here next year with our canoe. We might even make a trip here this winter to try some snowshoeing. We will certainly allow a lot more time to enjoy the Visitors' Centre next time.

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