Tripping in Algonquin with kids – An Ambitious Plan

This blog post was written by our guest blogger Jen Johnson. Jen has worked in the outdoor industry at Mountain Equipment Co-op for the last 18 years. She and her husband, Fraser, trip regularly with their two sons Luke 11 and Zach 8. When not paddling or hiking Ontario’s beautiful backcountry, you can find Jen writing for and Watch for 2 more blog posts this summer chronicling this backcountry trip with kids!

Our idea was a wild one; fulfill a dream and complete a top to bottom canoe trip of Algonquin Provincial Park. Executing it would be even harder than it sounds. We are not merely a pair of audacious adventurers; we are a young family. Our two boys Luke 11 and Zach 8 would never allow themselves to be left behind and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This intrepid group is a party of four.

Our trip will see us covering approximately 105km of the park and will include a staggering 49 portages totalling 28000m (84000m including double-backs). Launching from the north end of Algonquin Provincial Park on July 30that Kioshkowki Lake, we will snake our way south over the course of 20 days and dozens of lakes until eventually emerging in Whitney having covered the entire maintained length of the park.

What do we hope to achieve with this expedition? We’re not trying to change the world, just the lives of two of its young inhabitants. Our aim has always been to instill a lasting love of the outdoors in our children and have a blast along the way. We share the outdoors with our kids because they are afforded the opportunity to better use their imaginations, express their creativity, explore their surroundings and make discoveries about themselves and their world.

Algonquin has always been our choice for family backcountry firsts. The kids went on their first camp-out, canoe trip, hikes, winter camp, yurt, snowshoe and cross-country ski trips within the boundaries of this magnificent park. There were no other contenders when selecting Algonquin for our first extended expedition. Luke and Zach sat in a canoe for the very first time seven years ago on Magnetawan Lake. Wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear, they fell in love with the dip of the paddle, the crackle of the campfire and the call of the loons. Right from the get-go we knew that they were born to trip.

With over a year invested in planning and only days remaining until we launch, anticipation is at an all-time high. Our canoes have been repaired, our meals have been prepped and our gear has been packed. It has been a flurry of activity in our small urban home, the storm before the calm. Soon all of this hustle will be rewarded with three weeks of tranquillity, of camaraderie, and of good old-fashioned fun in our favourite outdoor playground.