An Early Spring Day in Algonquin Park

A day hike in Algonquin Park in the early Spring.

2004 May 04

The plan was to walk into High Falls on the Barron River; it should be quite spectacular at current water levels. There is a trail that starts from the Achray Road a few hundred meters beyond the "Brigham Lake Portage". This trail provides relatively easy access to the falls and water slide — about a four kilometer walk. The trail is marked and maintained by the MNR, but I am unaware of it appearing on any map.

A side trail provides access to a pretty spot along the Barron River, with a small falls just upstream.

However, today I didn't make it to High Falls. About half way along is a beaver pond and today the trail disappeared below its surface. Whether this is due to the current high water conditions or some beaver improvements down stream was not clear.

flooded trail

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The trail to High Falls at about the half way point.

Since I was not prepared to wade and since there was no easy or obvious bushwhacking route around, I decided to abandon this walk and move on to plan B. Unfortunately, I didn't have a plan B. So I headed back to the car and drove to Achray. While there were cars around, I didn't see a soul. I ate my snack, and looked at the map.

My first visits to Algonquin were day trips to Achray. That was over forty years ago. In those days, the access was through Camp Petawawa and the park gate was at Montgomery Lake. The road to Achray was several kilometers north of the current road along the canyon's rim; it is still marked on the topo sheet for the area. So I decided to explore the old road by foot — partly driven by nostalgia, but also if the road were still passable and legally drivable (it isn't), it would significantly shorten the car shuttle between McManus Lake and Lake Traverse.

So I drove to the junction of the old road and the new road (map reference 18TTR 891 864) parked the car and started walking. However, in less than a kilometer ...

flooded road

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Along the old Achray Road

So unless I wanted to get my feet wet, I was stopped again. But I'm quite sure one could tip toe across here later in the year. Just not today.

Once again I headed back to the car, now with the intent that I would drive back to the road into McManus Lake and tackle the old road from the other end.

Driving back along the current Achray Road, I passed this little waterfall. I don't know how many times I've driven by this spot, but I've never noticed these falls before.

small waterfall

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Unnamed falls on an unnamed creek along the Achray Road.

I parked the car at the other end of "the old Achray Road" (The 'Y' junction on the way into McManus Lake; map reference about 18TTR 987 884) and started walking. A pleasant, easy walk, but not as intimate as a trail in the bush.

This area has, some time in the past, been laid out in a series of horse back riding trails. The trails and camp sites are still marked, but appear to have fallen into disuse.

After about three kilometers, the road begins to parallel an unnamed creek. The sight of this creek stirred long forgotten memories. More feelings than distinct images, but just as real, none-the-less. This creek epitomizes my concept of a northern creek — full of water, black, flowing fast through the pines and alders with surface flecks of foam.

unnamed creek

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An unnamed creek flowing fast along the "old Achray Road".

Further along the road, I reached this picturesque beaver meadow.

beaver meadow

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Unfortunately, the other side of the road was less picturesque. I guess tourists are not expected along this road.

logging operations

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As it was getting late, I turned around and headed home — a varied and pleasant day in Algonquin Park. Nothing exciting — just fresh air, good exercise and beautiful country.