Backcountry Camping with Kids in Algonquin

Algonquin offers an almost unlimited number of canoeing trips in the interior, so I’m only going to mention some which are suitable for the whole family. Most of the time you’ll to want to do a short paddle, and at most one portage before you get to your campsite. It’s common on these trips to do a loop or circuit, to visit a different lake each night. However, this can be very time consuming and your trip would look like this: setup camp, make dinner, put kids to sleep, go to sleep, wake up, have breakfast, take down camp, and paddle to your next destination. Instead, I prefer to choose a centrally located lake and explore the nearby bays and creeks looking for beaver dams, turtles and moose. When I do plan a simple loop visiting two or three lakes during my trip, I still prefer to put a rest day in there to visit the area. We never tire of taking an afternoon to paddle around a lake, visiting the portages on the lake, and finding a good jumping rock to swim from.

Canisbay Canoe-in sites

Canisbay Lake is located next to the Canisbay campground on Highway 60 and has canoe-in sites on a motor-free lake.

You can rent canoes from the park, and canoe to your campsite. The sites are not numbered, so you have to canoe around looking for an empty site.

There is a beach at the Canisbay 20100801-Algonquin-IMG_1236-0301Campground that has shower facilities nearby. Since there are no portages you can bring all those car-camping stuff you usually bring like camping chairs and bug shelters. Don’t bring your cooler though because you can’t put it up in a tree or hide it from bears and raccoons at night.

Cannisbay BeachSince you can easily get to your car from here, you will want to explore some of the nearby hiking trails along Highway 60 and check out the Algonquin Park Visitor’s Centre.

Algonquin Park HikeRock, Penn, and Louisa Lakes

Rock Lake has some very convenient campsites but it can be busy with motorboats during the day and there are cottages on the lake. Also, when you’re looking for a campsite during the day, there may be none available because people are using them for lunch breaks. You can approach them if you don’t see a tent to confirm they the site is not taken.

The access point takes you through the scenic Rock River and down the Rock Lake to the campsites. There are some Aboriginal Pictographs on the west side of Rock Lake that are worth exploring and a spring and waterfall to the south near the Penn Lake portage.

Lake Louisa Rainbow

It’s worth doing the 375 m portage into Penn Lake and staying there because it is motor-free. It’s going to be quieter during the day and less busy. Beware that Penn Lake is long, and the first few sites you reach are probably going to be taken.

If you want an even quieter experience, you can portage into Lake Louisa but pack light because it’s a long 2895m portage. It’s certainly worth it, as Louisa is a very beautiful lake that is only one portage away. I’ve seen a family with a toddler do the portage so it’s possible to do, just watch what you pack.

Lake Louisa

Campsite on Lake Louisa

Kingscote Lake

Kingscote LakeKingscote Lake is located in the southern most part of Algonquin Park, and despite it’s close proximity to Southern Ontario it’s not as busy as other lakes and campgrounds in Algonquin Park. The area around Kingscote Lake has been getting some attention because the park has developed new campsites by purchasing land on the lake and the access road has widened and re-gravelled.

kingscoteAccessPointIt’s important to note that to camp at Kingscote Lake you have to pick up your permits at the Pine Grove Point Cottages Office before you turn onto Kingscote Lake Road to get to the access point.

Kingscote Lake Algonquin Park Walk-in MapNear the access point, there are six new walk-in campsites which are short walk from the parking lot. These walk-in sites are reserved through the Algonquin Interior Canoeing reservation system as Kingscote Walkin, and are first-come first serve.

You can also paddle on Kingscote Lake to get to canoe-in campsites. In general the campsites in this area aren’t that well kept, and it gets busy during the day with boating traffic. It’s close enough to be considered a good family weekend destination, and it has some great day trip options.

Presonally, I’d rather camp at Byer’s Lake, which is two portages away, and make day trips from there. Byer’s Lake doesn’t allow motor boats and has only two campsites on the lake. The P1300 portage into Big Rock Lake starts with an uphill and ends in a marshy section where you’re bound to get your feet wet.

On your last day in the area, you should leave some extra time to do the short 2km hike to High Falls. The hike is rocky so good shoes are required, and watch your children at all times because there are cliffs and ledges near the path.

If you go to Algonquin early in the season you’re guaranteed to see some moose.

Algonquin Moose

There are numerous other canoe spots within Algonquin Park that offer a great experience for families. Personally I like to stay at campsites that don’t allow motor-boats and are a portage or two away. If you’re following a river or a creek you will find you are going much slower, but it’s more scenic. Whereas if you’re on a larger lake it could be more choppy and you’re battling the waves and winds trying to get to your destination.






2 thoughts on “Backcountry Camping with Kids in Algonquin

  1. Pingback: Algonquin and Killarney Interior Sites Online | Family Camping

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