An Early Fall Hike Around Berm Lake and Johnston Lake

During the second week of September we hiked around Berm Lake and Johnston Lake, near Achray on the east side of Algonquin Provincial Park. The trail around Berm Lake is an interpretive walking trail, and the trail around Johnston Lake is part of the Eastern Pines Hiking Trail.

September 12, 2006

As the next few days were predicted to be overcast and rainy, Bob and I decided to take advantage of a day of good weather to hike around Berm Lake and Johnston Lake, near Achray on the east side of Algonquin Park.

The morning was calm, sunny and cool, only 2C, but had warmed up a bit by the time we arrived at Achray. We started walking at about 9:30 a.m., taking a figure eight route around Berm Lake and Johnston Lake.

bob at berm lake

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The trail along the west shore of Berm Lake provides some good scenic views. Here Bob contemplates a photographic opportunity.

edge of Berm Lake bog

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At the northern end of Berm Lake, the trail passes close to a bog. The vegetation here is beginning to show its fall colours.

The trail along the southeast side of Berm Lake is quite rugged, requiring climbing up and down hills and cliffs, over bare bedrock in places, or picking one's way over broken rock and roots. Our figure eight route involved doing this section twice, but the excellent views of the lake were worth the effort.

berm lake trail

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On the southeast side of Berm Lake. We took a mid-morning snack break at one of the high spots along this section of the trail.

berm lake

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Looking west across Berm Lake.

From here the trail descends to a low-lying area between Berm Lake and Johnston Lake.

split log bridge

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A bridge of split logs across a stream. This style of bridge has been a common sight on portage trails in Algonquin Park during the last thirty years, being easily constructed from materials available on the spot using a chain saw. These old bridges are now being replaced with structures made of dressed lumber that must be carried in.

Some parts of the trail, particularly north of Johnston Lake, follow old roads and so are relatively level and smooth, providing a nice break from the more difficult walking through the rocky areas. Around noon we took a side trail to one of the hike-in campsites on the north shore of Johnston Lake and found a pleasant sunny spot by the lake to eat lunch. By this time the temperature had risen to 18C, and though there was a brisk breeze, we felt quite warm in the sun. While we ate we watched loons fishing in the lake.

johnston lake

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Looking east across Johnston Lake.

On the return from Johnston Lake to Achray, we cut across to the abandoned rail line and followed it to the beach at the east end of Grand Lake. After visiting the location of Tom Thomson's painting, "The Jack Pine" (see Desecration of a Beautiful Spot), we followed another trail back to Achray. By this time the clouds had started to move in and the breeze was feeling cooler. We arrived back at the car around 3:00 p.m., with the track recorded by our GPS indicating that we had walked 10.34 km, not counting all the ups and downs.