Originally this was going to be a multi-day weekend knockoff of some White Mountain Peaks, but bad weather forced us to change our plans. While flood watches and rains were to the southeast of us, to the northwest, skies were forecast to be clear and cloudless. On a whim, I decided to give Algonquin Park, to the northwest of Ottawa, a visit. In all the years I've lived in Ottawa, I've never given Algonquin Park a visit. It is a land of glacier-scoured Canadian Shield, with countless lakes and low, rocky hills -- not my typical destination, given my propensity towards mountains.
Still, I'd heard it was a beautiful place, and worth a visit. I called up Gilbert, since I knew he was interested in exploring new nearby places, and he readily agreed, as did Dave, another 'gamer' friend. The four of us set off on a beautiful Saturday morning for the 3-hour drive to Algonquin Park, with the intent of getting a dayhiking sampling of what the place had to offer.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Start of Centennial Ridges
For our first hike, we chose the Centennial Ridges Trail. This is a 10km loop trail which is decribed as 'climbing two high ridges'. Sounded neat. It is also described by the park guide as 'very strenuous'. However, I've seen enough guide descriptions to know that one must calibrate a description and not just take the words at face value. Given the moderate elevation gain (1250 feet in total over the 10k) and the short distance, I didn't think this would be what I'd consider 'very strenuous'. Still, sounded like a nice hike.
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Whitefish Lake in distance
The hiking is enjoyable, going through pleasant woodlands. The ridgey sections are nice. They are most escarpment-edges, since they don't go quite along the spine of the ridges, but more along cliffy portions off to one side or another. There are many nice lookouts over the gently undulating highlands of Algonquin Park.
This is a subtle landscape, sanded down and rounded off by eons of continental glaciation.
The trail has an interpretive guide, and Jenn stops at the guideposts to read out tidbits of the Park's history.
In addition to ridgewalking, the trail often descends into woodlands and skirts the edges of beaver ponds, most of which are in a good state of construction and which have visible beaver lodges in the water.