Canoeing time: 5-6hrs round-trip
Entrance: Achray Campground
Before I undertook my solo road trip across Canada, we went on a long week-end canoe-camping trip to Algonquin Park. We had wanted to do this for a while, but winter obliged, we had to wait until I was done with work to get the time off and head for our luxury camping adventure.
We booked the canoe from Algonquin Outfitters and strapped it on top of our small car, then drove all the way to the Achray Campground in the park. From there, we were able to start paddling on Grand Lake and head to Stratton Lake in the evening to find our camping spot. There is a short, 50m, portage on this route, so make sure that you are aware of this before overloading your canoe. We did a few roundtrips in order to portage all our luxury gear for the weekend, which wasn’t a big deal considering the shortness of the portage.
The camping spots are first-arrived, first-served. We paddled just over an hour to get to the campsite. We decided to pick one of the first sites after the portage once we arrived on Stratton, to keep some paddling for the next morning when we would head to High Falls. The campsites are very well maintained, larges, with a nice fire pit and a “toilet” a bit further down in the forest. The major downside of this trip was the number of mosquitos during the weekend (end of June). We were glad we had our hammocks with nets to relax late in the evening, as it was sometimes just too warm to keep our long clothes on to avoid the bites!
The next morning we paddled all the way to the end of Stratton Lake, where we left the canoe for a while and walked to the famous High Falls. There is a portion of the falls that is a large, downhill rock where the water slides down. We saw another group sliding multiple times in it before we dared to go, but I am glad we did! The slide is enjoyable, not painful (as long as you are careful and watch your head on the way down, as you will tend to get your legs up once you hit the water), and the water is deep enough not to worry about hitting rocks. Once you come back out of the water, you can swim to either side of the basin to get back to shore and hike back up!
After our second night at the same campsite, we paddled back to Achray and drove back to town, saying goodbye to the mosquitos!