Tripping in Algonquin with Kids – Special Moments in a Special Place

This is the final blog post in a series of three, 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

During the summer of 2012, Jen and her family planned a 105 km canoe trip – top to bottom of Algonquin Provincial Park. These blog articles give you a glimpse of some of their experiences. Here are the first two blog articles: Tripping in Algonquin with kids – An Ambitious Plan and Tripping in Algonquin with kids – Endlessly Entertaining.

It’s been a few weeks since we returned from our family canoe trip to Algonquin and the memories have only gotten sweeter. After a tough trip in the backcountry we tend to focus on our athletic feats like the crazy long back to back portages or paddling across huge lakes in strong head winds. It’s only upon reflection later that your mind turns to the little things, the things that make a trip special.

There are moments that I remember so clearly that when I close my eyes, I swear that I’m back in the park. When the rain was gently falling on the water as my son Luke and I paddled and the little bubbles that formed on the surface got mixed in amongst the raindrops. Or how when the sky got dark, the water turned black as ink and I kept looking at Luke’s paddle as he pulled it out of the lake half expecting that it would be stained black too. How when the sun finally broke through the cloud cover, the rays cut through the water and made it seem as if the light was radiating from beneath us like a reverse aurora borealis surrounding the canoe and seeming to make it glow. My boys ooh’d and ah’d at seeing the tiniest frog that any of us had ever laid eyes on and the big old beaver that swam past our site. Only in a park this grand could we find ourselves completely alone on a lake in the middle of the summer listening to the wolves howl and the loons call while watching the moon rise big and bright over the tree line. It was magical.

There were big moments too, like trolling up and down the shore of Burntroot Lake trying to search out the abandoned logging alligator and then against the odds, finally finding it hidden in the brush. We explored the grounds of the old Barnet Depot Farm and discovered an old building with artifacts like a huge saw blade, a bucket and even a little shoe. There was the moose skull with its rack intact that the kids marvelled over at the end of the portage from Nadine Lake to the Nipissing River (a solid 1410m). And the fishing! The kids stood for hours on the shore and tried to hook a big one.

As always, we had an unforgettable time in Algonquin. We count ourselves lucky that our local playground is so extraordinary. We’ve already begun planning our next trip for later this year because it’s wonderful to spend time in the park as a family no matter the season. It’s simply another opportunity to make a few more memories.