Wenda Lake Hardwoods
in Algonquin Provincial Park

The Wenda Lake Hardwoods is a protected sub mature to mature tolerant deciduous forest (Beech, Sugar Maple and scattered large Yellow Birch) situated on the hill between Grand Lake and Wenda Lake in eastern Algonquin Park. It is a unique local example of a forest type more commonly found on the west side of Algonquin Park.

2004 October 08

The fall colors this year are simply spectacular. We have had a long succession of warm sunny days and cool nights with some frost. And the winds have generally been light, so the leaves have remained on the trees. I decided to take advantage of the continuing benign weather to visit the Wenda Lake Hardwoods.

fall colors on shore of Grand Lake

Fall colors along the shores of Grand Lake in Algonquin Park.

The Wenda Lake Hardwoods Nature Preserve protects a Beech / Sugar Maple forest that is more characteristic of the western side of Algonquin Park than the pine forests of the local area. While I have passed through Grand Lake and Wenda Lake several times, I had never climbed the hill to visit this forest.

The hardwoods are "easily" reached via the portage from Grand Lake to Wenda Lake. The portage is a relatively good trail that is purported to be 3260m long; but you do gain (and lose) over 400 feet of elevation in climbing over the ridge between the two lakes. The beech / sugar maple forest is at the higher elevations but on the Wenda Lake side of the ridge.

large white pine along portage trail

The portage trail is relatively good, but a little rocky in places. It is never really steep, but neither is it flat. While the focus of the walk, was the hardwoods, coniferous trees are also well represented, including many large white pines.

As soon as you leave Grand Lake, Beech trees are in evidence. But I didn't notice any Sugar Maples until I reached the top of the ridge. Instead the forest comprises (in addition to Beech) Red and White pine, Balsam, Spruce, and Red and Striped Maples.

beech leaves

Beech trees are immediately evident as soon as you start along the portage.

The map identifies "Beech-drops Pond" located at the top of the ridge. I anticipated a picturesque reflecting pool surrounded by majestic Beech trees. Instead I found a typical coniferous forest bog.

beech drop pond

Beech-drops Pond was not at all what I was expecting. Note the cotton grass in the foreground.

Once you reach Beech-drops Pond, the Red Maples are largely replaced by Sugar Maples.

forest canopy

The forest canopy along the portage trail near Beech-drops Pond.

The portage ends at the Wenda Lake Cabin on the shores of Wenda Lake. Here the forest is mature Red Pine.

cabin on Wenda Lake

Wenda Lake Cabin

A day trip to Wenda Lake is an interesting and enjoyable excursion. But it is not the optimum destination for viewing the fall colors; The show along the shores of Grand Lake was much more impressive. (But let's face it: it is pretty hard to out do a male Red Maple showing off in full glory.)

But a return trip to the Wenda Lake Hardwoods is in order. According to the Natural Heritage Information Centre Wenda Lake and the Wenda Lakes Hardwoods is home to several interesting plant species including the Purple-fringed Orchid, Black Snake-root, Round-leaved Pyrola, Round-leaved Orchid, Coral-root, and of course, Beech Drops.