Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Algonquin hot tent at night

Today’s post comes from Ken Jones at @ken_jones.outdoors.

January may seem like the best month of the year to stay indoors, where it’s hot and dry. That said, it can also be one of the most peaceful, beautiful, and peaceful times to explore the outdoors.

Last weekend, my fiancee and I had the opportunity to camp in Algonquin Provincial Park in all its winter glory.

In winter, Algonquin offers backcountry camping at Mew Lake Campground.

Algonquin sign in winter.

If you have the right equipment, you can also camp in the backcountry during the winter, as long as you stay out of the official summer sites.

There are plenty of trails and viewpoints you can reach by snowshoeing, hiking, or cross-country skiing. In fact, the park had just had a big snow fall, so everything was spotless, covered in fluffy snow.

Frozen Lake in AlgonquinPhoto: Ken Jones

The forecast called for temperatures of -30°C, so we knew that while we would see some beautiful scenery, the most important thing was that we would have to stay warm.

For us, exploring in winter is a great way to get outside and get rid of the winter boredom, but it requires some planning.

Arguably the most important preparation for a successful winter trip is packing the clothes you’ll need to stay warm.

Wearing necessary layers for winter in Algonquin Photo: Ken Jones

It may seem counterintuitive, but the most important item of clothing won’t be your heavy winter jacket. Instead, it will be the layers you use.

Layers are important in the winter because you can better moderate your temperature by wearing several thinner layers rather than a few thick layers. This means you can avoid sweating while on the trails, which can lead to chills.

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As for food, we recommend bringing snacks that are good even if they get cold. Granola bars are our favorite, along with beef jerky. Soups or freeze-dried meals that you can rehydrate are always a great option.

Man heating food on a small stick fire in winterPhoto: Ken Jones

To heat them, we usually bring a small propane stove or stick stove for a small, controlled fire that can be easily extinguished when we’re done.

Next, it is imperative that you carry enough water to stay hydrated while hitting the trails. We normally carry about 4.5 liters of water for the two of us during day hikes. Then, we took the opportunity to recharge later that day.

On this trip to Algonquin, we took the opportunity to hike a couple of the park’s shorter trails. First, we hiked the Spruce Bog Trail. This is a really good trail for all ages and skill levels.

It is mostly flat and hikers have the opportunity to walk through spruce forests, along a boardwalk through the swamp and around a small pond.

A lone man walks along a trail in winter with trees behind him.Photo: Ken Jones

One of the reasons many people hike the Spruce Bog Trail is for the birds. They are always very active and take excellent photos. The day we were there, we saw quite a few Canada Jays and Black-capped Chickadees.

The second hike we did, this time snowshoeing, was the Algonquin Lumber Museum Trail. This trail offers a unique walking and learning experience in the park.

Man next to a snow-covered boat in AlgonquinPhoto: Ken Jones

Along the tour, the history of logging in Algonquin is explained and demonstrated with historic buildings, equipment and more.

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To make the most of your trip to the Lumber Museum, consider getting the trail guide. During the winter months, you can pick up the trail guide at the Visitor Center or at the east and west gates.

After a day on the trails, we headed to the Mew Lake campground where we would spend the night. We saw a few other groups staying in yurts and a couple groups staying in trailers. We stayed in our new warm tent, a canvas tent that allows you to install a stove to keep the tent warm.

hockey player

Mew Lake Campground comes complete with a skating rink for both free skating and occasional hockey play…how Canadian!

After consulting with the camp hosts, we set up camp. This required processing our firewood into smaller pieces to fit inside our stove.

A man in a hot tent adds firewood to a stovePhoto: Ken Jones

We then settled in for the night, which began by preparing dinner.

We usually package foods that are already frozen. For this trip, we brought a container of broccoli and cheddar soup, which we heated up on the stove. We also packed some meat and cheese and made a camping version of a charcuterie board.

After dinner, we settled into our sleeping bags and spent some time talking and reading with our headlamps. It was definitely a great first night in our hot tent.

Algonquin hot tent at nightPhoto: Ken Jones

In the morning, we packed up camp and left the park, knowing we would return in a couple of weeks.