A reasonable 2-day drive from New York City, the park is due north of Lake Ontario. It is huge (3000 square miles), almost roadless and has more than 2000 lakes. Many animals and rather a lot of insects, at least while we were there (mid-July).
There are two ways to stay in the park: camping out (cheap) and staying at one or more of the three lodges (very expensive). We tried two nights of each.
We started at the Achray Campground, on the eastern side on Grand Lake. Susan declared it the best campsite she had ever seen. It is rather small (be sure to book ahead) and happily free of dogs and radios. We (successfully!) pitched our tent 50 feet from the water. The swimming was fine. You can sit by the shore and read or think or whatever; there is still light at 9:30.
We did take one hike in this part of the park. Starting from the campground, we followed the Eastern Pines Trail to High Falls. Here we found a bunch of lovely rock pools. About fifty humans and one large black dog were happily at swim. We admired their having walked five miles, as had we, until we learned there was a parking lot less than two miles away. Tsk. After lunch, we continued on foot. I suggested looping north around Lake Bucholtz, which may not have been a good idea, as it added several miles to what was already a long trip. The terrain was fairly level; the lakes were pretty; the bugs were annoying; I stepped on my glasses and broke them.
To get to our expensive lodge (Killarney), we had to drive east out of the park, then down top rte. 60, the only road that traverses the park. We arrived late morning, and itís a good thing that it was no later. The highway was soon shut down because of an accident: a driver, possibly gazing at wildlife, strayed into the oncoming lane and struck four motorcyclists. All survived, but two had to be helicoptered to hospital.
Our lake side cabin at the lodge had its own canoe. We paddled around on the Lake of Two Rivers. Meals (included in the considerable price) were very good. Note: alcoholic drinks are nowhere available in the park. Strictly BYOB.
We hiked the Centennial Ridges Trail, a very pleasant six miles. Not so many bugs. Great views atop a series of cliffs. The minatory guiding pamphlet calls this circuit a six-hour hike, but thatís only if you walk really slowly. ďPlease note also that the cliff tops are not fenced and a fall from any of them would be fatal.Ē Would be, not might be.
The park is worth a lot more than four days. Among its many attractions are a great many canoe routes. Check it out.
Algonquin was part of a three-week car trip. Susan describes the rest:
Our trip (during which we were in eleven states and Ontario) began with Jeff & Sallyís wedding at which Steve officiated. It was a wonderful event! We have asked them to repeat it every other year. We then spent a night at Lake Chateaugay with our friends Liz and Charlie at their house, Pine Lodge. After visiting it for many years , it was great to spend a night there. Thence it was an easy drive to Ottawa, a lovely city where we spent two nights. Susan had fond memories of having visited there 39 years ago. A highlight was a trip on the Rideau Canal during which Susan sat next to the German Ambassador to Canada; he said that being Ambassador to Canada was a welcome relief after having been Ambassador to Israel.
We had a big decision to make when leaving Algonquin Park--whether to take the northern route or southern route to get to Kalamazoo, Michigan. The northern route won: we spent one night at a lovely little fishing camp on Lake Huron (no, we did not fish!) in Spanish, Ontario and one night in Petoskey, Michigan, chosen by Susan because an article in the Times by Ann Patchett said there was a good bookstore there. She was right. Also a nice old historic hotel. On our way to Petoskey had a visit at the Sault Ste. Marie locks, and saw an enormous ship being floated from one level to the next.
We spent two nights in Kalamazoo with Steveís school friend Peter and wife Barbara. A highlight of that visit was accompanying Barb to the Ford Museum in Grand Rapids where she became an American citizen. We all found the ceremony very moving. It was interesting to be reminded that President Ford had pardoned draft resisters.These days, he might look like a left-wing Democrat.
We moved on from Kalamazoo to spend three nights in Union Pier with Vicki (a high school. friend of Susanís) and her partner Shawn. We had three days overeating, swimming, reading, vacationing. Great! Then a moderate drive to Madison, Wisconsin where we stayed withSusanís cousin Russell and his wife Karen. Pretty tough life--eating, hiking at Devilís Lake, a long evening on the Terrace with two friends of Susanís, reading, sleeping.....
Then, on to Chicago to visit, Liz, another friend of Susanís. We actually exerted ourselves a little--went to the Art Institute to see a wonderful textile show and to the theater. A little tiny dip in Lake Michigan to round off our Great Lakes Tour, spending time on four of the Great Lakes. Although we went by the fifth in Ohio we did not go out of our way to take a peep. Then, the long, rather boring ride home!
High point for Susan: getting to swim outdoors almost every day!
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