Early Spring Along the Road to Lake Travers

Spring is late compared to a year ago. To relieve their spring fever, Bob and Diana took their cameras and went for a drive into Algonquin Park via the Achray Road. They eventually ended up at Lake Travers.

2011 April 08

Spring washout along the Achray Road

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - explore

The Achray Road (also known as the Barron Canyon Road) was in reasonable shape. Mostly it was dry and bumpy, but it was still ice covered in some shady areas, wet and muddy in others. In a few locations, flowing water crossed the road.

Sand Lake Gate in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

The Sand Lake Gate is not staffed from Thanksgiving until the opening of the fishing season. (Although there is some access control during the First Nations' Big Game Hunt). During the off season, entrance to the Park is self serve. The speed bump across the road is removed during the winter, to facilitate snow ploughing.

Photographing a small creek along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park in early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

While most of the beaver ponds and other wet areas along the road were still completely ice covered, the small creeks were showing signs of life.

Army helicopter flying low over the frozen Barron River in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

The Barron River was still mostly covered with ice. While we were viewing the scene from the bridge at Squirrel Rapids, a low flying millitary helicopter passed overhead. Other than a pickup truck, this was the only human activity we encountered or heard all day. Log hauling appears to have ended for the season -- or at least is suspended until the frost comes out of the road.

We didn't encounter much in the way of wildlife -- one beaver, one otter, and one ruffed grouse, but many great blue herons.

Frozen wetland along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park in early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

A frozen wetland beside the Achray Road a little beyond the Brigham Lake portage. This wetland feeds into Forbes Creek.

Forbes Creek in Algonquin Park in early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

From around the Brigham Lake portage most of the way to Lake Travers, the Achray Road is within the Forbes Creek drainage basin. The creek and its tributaries cross and recross the road several times. Here Forbes Creek crosses the road for the last time before winding its way down to the Barron River. Nothing says "spring" in eastern Algonquin Park louder than black water flecked with white foam.

Bulldozer opening up the side road into Achray in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

The side road into Achray had recently been bulldozed of most of the winter's accumulation of snow. It still did not look like very good driving, so we chose not to venture in.

Forbes Creek along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Forbes Creek

map reading along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park in early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

We stopped for lunch along the road, across from the location of the previous photo. At this stage of our drive, we still had no fixed agenda of how far along the road we would venture. We kept driving "just a little farther, just a little farther" until we eventually reached Lake Travers. We were a bit nervous about how soft the road might become as the day warmed up, but it turned out not to be a problem.

Forbes Creek in Algonquin Park downstream of Forbes Lake in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

"Just a little farther". Forbes Creek along the Achray Road downstream of Forbes Lake.

Power transmission corridor through Algonquin Park at the Achray Road in early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

At the power lines.

Looking towards Francis Lake from the campsite on Pretty Lake along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Looking towards Francis Lake from the campsite on Pretty Lake.

remaining snow in the bush along the Achray Road in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

In places, the forest floor was clear of snow; in other places ...

Frozen wetland near the Petawawa River at Lake Travers in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Frozen wetland across from the entrance to the parking lot at Lake Travers.

Poplar Rapids on the Petawawa River in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Poplar Rapids, looking upstream from the bridge over the Petawawa River at Lake Travers

looking into Lake Travers in Algonquin Park from the bridge at Poplar Rapids on the Petawawa River in the early spring

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Poplar trees farther down the shore of Lake Travers were showing signs of life, but the lake itself was still frozen.

under the shore ice along the Petawawa River in Algonquin Park in the early spring

(photo by Diana: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

A peek under the shore ice along the Petawawa River.

Bridge across the Petawawa River at Poplar Rapids in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2011-04-08 - map - explore

Travel beyond this point is prohibited to the general public. The road becomes a public road again another 15 plus kilometers farther on at the Algonquin Park boundary near Bisset Lake.

A year plus one week ago, we drove into the park (2010 April 01) and spring was much further advanced than it was this time. Spring is running well behind last year and, we believe, behind average.

For more of our photos from this trip, see our photo gallery: Early Spring Along the Road to Lake Travers.

Two weeks later we returned to Algonquin Park. In the interim there had been melting, a lot of rain and, two days previous, a major winter storm; the driving conditions were much worse. For photos of this trip, see our photo gallery: A Late April Drive Into Achray - 2011 April 22.