Paddling Algonquin Park: Smoke Lake - Bonita Lake

Paddling Algonquin Park: Smoke Lake - Bonita Lake

Welcome to the gateway of enchantment, where the echoes of history intertwine with the serenity of nature. Algonquin Park, nestled in the heart of Ontario, is not just another wilderness; it's a living testament to the wonders of our natural world and the secrets it holds.

We have always loved traveling through the Park - though we aren't campers ourselves - the beauty and magic of the forest keeps bringing us back! We look forward to exploring more and more of its amazing waterways.

If you are also not a big camper, and want an easy 10km paddle where you don't need to hike or portage, this expedition is perfect for you! 

As with all Algonquin adventures, don't forget to secure your daily vehicle permit at the park's entrance – it's your ticket to a realm where nature's beauty knows no bounds! The daily permit costs $21 CAD and is valid from 7:00am until 10:00pm on the date of issue. It can even be bought online! 

A Glimpse into Algonquin's Rich History

Before we dip our paddles into the crystal-clear waters of Algonquin, let's take a moment to appreciate the rich history that permeates this place. 

Nestled in the heart of Ontario, Canada, Algonquin Park is a timeless sanctuary that weaves together history, natural wonders, and boundless adventure. Established in 1893, it holds the distinction of being one of Canada's oldest provincial parks, a sprawling expanse that covers over 7,600 square kilometres.

An array of diverse wildlife calls this park home, from majestic moose and elusive wolves to industrious beavers and over 200 species of birds. It also boasts more than 2,400 lakes and 1,200km of meandering streams and rivers. Here, water-based activities like canoeing and kayaking are second nature. 

A shot from our epic paddling journey along the Barron Canyon

Algonquin Park is a geological time capsule, its landscape shaped by ancient rocks, including the timeless Canadian Shield, some of Earth's oldest formations, dating back billions of years. You may want to check out our Barron Canyon Paddling Adventure if the Canadian Shield excites you! 

Remnants of a bygone era can still be glimpsed, as old logging equipment and remnants of the Grand Trunk Railway remind us of Algonquin's history. The park's extensive waterways and portage routes have earned it the title of the "Canoe Capital of Canada," beckoning paddlers to explore its tranquil lakes and winding rivers. Algonquin Park isn't just a destination; it's an experience where the past, present, and future of the wilderness converge, offering you an invitation to explore, paddle, hike, and embrace the beauty and diversity that define this iconic park.

Setting Sail from Smoke Lake Access Point

The journey begins at Smoke Lake Access Point – a well-prepared launchpad for your adventure. Here, a spacious parking lot welcomes your vehicle, convenient port-a-potties cater to your needs, and a smooth boat launch makes for easy entry into the water. As you push off, begin to paddle southwest. The first kilometre of your paddle shouldn't be too difficult as you make your way towards Smoke Creek. It is open water though, and the waves can be somewhat large if the wind is strong. Along this stretch, you'll catch glimpses of historic, picturesque cottages gracing the shoreline.

The Tranquil Beauty of Smoke Creek

Soon, you'll find yourself embraced by the tranquility of Smoke Creek. The crystal clear water and tree-lined shore creates a serene paradise. Ancient trees under the water break the surface among a sea of lilypads and water lilies. Be careful of the stumps as you paddle through. The Creek isn't super deep, but as long as you stay in the middle of the channel, you shouldn't hit bottom. While the distant hum of traffic along Highway 60 serves as a gentle reminder of the outside world, it doesn't detract from the breathtaking beauty surrounding you.

Tea Lake - Bonita Lake: A Picturesque Interlude

As you continue your journey under the highway, the mouth of Tea Lake invites exploration. Rather than paddling into the open waters of Tea Lake, we headed north towards Bonita Lake, where a captivating island awaits your discovery. On the left side of the lake, a small boggy area presents itself – a potential moose haven! Unfortunately for us, these mysterious creatures remained elusive during this adventure, and our quest for a moose sighting continues! We instead enjoyed a leisurely break amidst the water lilies, savouring yet another a delicious lunch amidst the untouched beauty of nature.

The Lure of the Loons

Following our quest for moose sightings, we received an unexpected gift from nature – a pair of loons, one adult and one juvenile! This was one of those times that I was very thankful to have my camera on-board to get some nice shots! Encountering these elegant birds was a rare and enchanting spectacle, a true testament to the vibrant wildlife within Algonquin Park. We dedicated approximately 20 minutes to observing their graceful presence, basking in the park's spellbinding allure. Did you know that both male and female loons share the responsibilities of incubating their eggs and caring for their chicks? When young, loon chicks often hitch a ride on their parents' backs. The particular loon we encountered was more like a teenager, swimming independently. The parent (gender distinctions in loons are notoriously challenging to discern) remained faithfully by the young one's side, graciously welcoming our company. Parting ways with this captivating duo was bittersweet, but we eventually resumed our journey, heading northward along the Oxtongue River. While the allure of continuing on to Canoe Lake beckoned, time constraints unfortunately compelled us to turn our adventure around.

Back to Smoke Lake

As your adventure comes full circle, you'll retrace your path along Smoke Creek to Smoke Lake. Those mesmerizing tree stumps and water lilies greeted us once more. We took our time and soaked in the scenery. With the rolling hills and expansive waters, Smoke Lake provided the perfect conclusion to our paddling odyssey. The wind had calmed down, and we silently floated along for a while enjoying the beauty that surrounded us.

In Algonquin Park, every paddle stroke uncovers a new chapter in nature's grand tapestry. So, gather your gear, make your way to Smoke Lake Access Point, and embark on this delightful 10km paddling adventure. It's a journey through time, nature, and the sheer magic of Algonquin Park that you'll cherish forever!

Check in again to see where our next adventure takes us! Stay wild! 🐻 

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