Costello Creek Lookout Trail and South Lookout Trail
along highway 60 in Algonquin Park

An account with photographs of exploring the Costello Creek Lookout Trail and the South Lookout Trail along highway 60 in Algonquin Park

October 22, 2012

The Lookout Trail along highway 60 in Algonquin Park is justly popular. However there are other locations nearby that offer magnificent views but are less commonly visited because their locations are not "officially" documented. Their access is via paths through the woods rather than something that approximates a paved road. Recently, Bob and Diana visited two of these sites: the "Costello Creek Lookout Trail" and the "South Lookout Trail".

The start of the Costello Creek Lookout Trail is reached via the road to Lake Opeongo (see gps track below). A gated logging road heads off to the right, and there is a small parking area to the left of this road just before the gate. This parking area is the domain of chickadees and nuthatches that very aggressively seek handouts -- landing on cameras, hiking poles, hands, etc. -- whether or not there are any actual treats on offer. These little guys may accompany you on your hike for the first 100m or so, just in case you find something to give them. The usual banded grey jays are also present, but seem quite shy in comparison with the smaller birds.

Once past the gauntlet of mooching birds, the hike follows the logging road for almost 900m beyond the gate. The path to the lookout starts from the left side of the road and is marked by a small cairn of rocks.

The trail up to the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The trail up to the Costello Creek Lookout -- that's Bob in the middle distance barging on ahead. In general, the path and footing were good, but slippery in places with wet rocks and roots covered with fallen leaves. The climb was reasonable but certainly sufficient to raise our heart-rate.

Approaching the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Approaching the top of the Costello Creek Lookout Trail.

View from the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

View from the Costello Creek Lookout. The cliff faces southwest; this view is looking almost directly south. The Lake Opeongo Road is just visible in the distance.

View from the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

View from the Costello Creek Lookout, looking slightly more to the west.

Hermit Creek in Algonquin Park as seen from the Costello Creek lookout

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

View from the Costello Creek Lookout to the southwest. Hermit Creek can be seen in the distance. The confluence of Hermit Creek and Costello Creek is just hidden by the foreground / midground trees.

Hermit Creek in Algonquin Park as seen from the Costello Creek lookout

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

A closer look at Hermit Creek.

Poplar trees as seen from the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The foreground trees -- poplars in fall foliage.

Blueberry bushes in their fall foliage

(photo by Diana: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The red leaves of the blueberry bushes were particularly prominent and impressive.

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park as seen from the lookout

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Costello Creek as seen from the lookout (looking a little south of west). The Lake Opeongo Road is visible in the middle distance.

There were quite a few recently dead pine trees at the summit -- probably due to this summer's drought.

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park as seen from the lookout

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

A closer look at Costello Creek as seen from the lookout. The large number of tamaracks in the wetland beside the creek was especially striking.

The trail down from the Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Heading back down.

After descending, we explored up the Lake Opeongo Road by car.

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The Costello Creek Lookout is on the hill in the background. This location -- Costello Creek by the side of the Lake Opeongo Road, almost at Lake Opeongo -- is probably too far north to be seen from the easily accessible lookout.

This photo shows the same scene as A.Y. Jackson's painting: The Beaver House. The beaver house is long gone but the background scene remains the same.

View towards Lake Opeongo on Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Costello Creek, looking towards Lake Opeongo.

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Looking upstream on Costello Creek, from a spot close to where the previous photo was taken.

Glacial erratic in Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

A huge boulder in Costello Creek, near where the Lake Opeongo Road crosses the Creek. (Whether this is a glacial erratic or a boulder consistent with the local bedrock geology, we don't know.)

The small parking area by the bridge is another hangout for feathered moochers - here mostly grey jays with a few chickadees - but nowhere near as aggressive as the ones at the start of the trail to the Costello Creek Lookout.

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

This part of Costello Creek is visible from the lookout (off to the right in this photo).

Costello Creek in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

More of Costello Creek.

The Costello Creek Lookout in Algonquin Park as seen from Costello Creek

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The Costello Creek Lookout as seen from the Lake Opeongo Road beside Costello Creek.

We had lunch at the Costello Lake picnic area before heading for the "South Lookout Trail". The South Lookout Trail starts immediately across the highway from the western entrance to the parking lot for the official Lookout Trail (North Lookout Trail).

View from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Near the top on the South Lookout Trail in Algonquin Park. The hiking distance from the car to the lookout is about the same as at the Costello Creek Lookout. However this entire trail is a path through the bush (no logging road). Again the path is good, but with a wet area in a hemlock grove near the beginning and a few steep sections farther up the hill. Leaves on wet rocks gave rise to slippery footing in a few places. The bush is largely a pleasant hardwood bush -- maple, beech, and oak -- plus the small hemlock grove.

Approaching the top on the South Lookout Trail in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Almost to the top! And the sun was coming out, too.

View from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photo by Diana: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

The view from the south lookout. In the far distance is Lake of Two Rivers; the closer lake is Kearney lake. Hidden by the trees are Pog Lake and Highway 60 (the highway was quite audible at the lookout). Whitefish Lake and -- farther away -- Provoking Lake are hidden by the hills on the left.

View from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

A closer look at Lake of Two Rivers and Kearney Lake as seen from the south lookout.

Photographing the view from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Trying to capture the majesty of the scene -- a largely impossible task.

Backlit spruce trees from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Backlit conifers and poplars as seen from the south lookout.

View from the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photographed: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

Looking through the trees, far to the north, beyond the north lookout, are some impressive hills.

Traveler above the trees at the south lookout in Algonquin Park

(photo by Bob: 2012-10-22 - map - explore

"Wanderer above the sea of trees." (channelling Kaspar David Friedrich)

Satellite Image

Our gps track for the two lookout trails. Each trail is a little over 3km return.

The South Lookout Trail comes very close to the Centennial Ridges Trail. In principle, with a short bushwhack of a few hundred meters, one could make contact -- if one were so inclined.

We enjoyed visiting both of these lookouts. Overall, we probably preferred the view of Costello Creek, but we are suckers for wetlands -- especially wetlands with tamaracks at this time of year. However, the views provided by the north and south lookouts are perhaps more majestic. The distant lakes provide a greater feeling of space and distance. We also think that our photos do not do proper justice to the south lookout. The south lookout also offers great views to the southwest, but at mid afternoon, that means you are trying to photograph almost directly into the sun.

Notes

Disclaimer: This account should be regarded as a record of what we did and not as a recommendation to others. These locations do not see a lot of traffic; if you get into trouble you are on your own. You are solely responsible for your own trip planning and safety.

Google map layer, "Jeff's map", courtesy of Jeff's Map.