Fresh Powder, Snowshoes & a Rip-Roaring Fire – Algonquin in Winter

This past weekend, Sarah and I were able to get away and head up to Algonquin for a much needed winter recharge. We left late Thursday afternoon and drove through snow-squalls and past cars in the ditch but made it safely to Huntsville. I thought we’d only be able to make it Orillia that night so this was great because it gave us more time in the park the next day.

Normally we’d rough it but we decided to use a gift certificate we received as a wedding gift and stay in a resort (Thanks Aunt Alice & Uncle Don!!). We booked a cabin at the Adventure Lodge, complete with wood burning fire and a private jacuzzi. Liz and Ken are the hosts and they are amazing (thanks for dealing with gift certificate issues). They go over and above to make sure your stay is comfortable and you are well fed. Breakfast and a 3-course dinner were included and the food was delicious. I haven’t needed to eat all week because I ate so much food. This place is definitely worth checking out. The Adventure Lodge was a good base camp near the East Gate. We spent everyday in the park so it was perfect staying this close.

With a fresh snowfall, which apparently was all they had recently, we snowshoed some of the trails we haven’t hiked before and hit a few of our favourites. The weather was a bit crisp on Friday morning (morning low of about -27 C) but was perfect for hiking, as long as you’re dressed for it. Wool was key here (and the fleece long johns helped). In fact, we had great weather all weekend – a few flurries, some sun, and very little wind.

Of course, we did some birding on this trip as this was a totally new area and it didn’t disappoint. I ended up with 7 new life birds and I think Sarah had 9. The highlights were Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees, a Black-backed Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeaks, White-winged Crossbills, and even a lonely Snow Bunting that was on the roof of the Visitor Centre.

On the way home, we read about some rare bird sightings in Burlington, so we decided to make a detour and stop for an hour. While we didn’t see the rarities, we picked up a few new lifers so it was worth stopping.

All-in-all it was a great weekend getaway up north.  I’m ready to head back up there now, even with the 8 hour drive. Algonquin is truly *magical* in the winter.

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