With 29 access points and over 2000 kilometers of canoe routes, Algonquin Park offers a lifetime of canoe trips. From white-water rivers to tiny trout streams and every kind of lake in between, Algonquin is truly a canoe trip paradise.
Where you live often dictates which Algonquin Park canoe route is most convenient to access.
Ottawa residents, for the most part head to the eastern side of Algonquin whereas Toronto and cottagers from Muskoka and Halliburton head to the highway 60 corridor and western access points.
Algonquin’s massive size (over 7000 square kilometres) makes it hard to to get to all parts of the park. With the exception of highway 60 going through the southern portion of Algonquin , there are no roads going through Algonquin. You have to drive all the way around Algonquin to get from the west side to the east side – a 7 hour drive from access point # 1 on Algonquin’s western boundary to the Barren Canyon # 22.
For solitude and the best wilderness experience, avoid the highway 60 corridor. Start your canoe trip from one of the access points on the western northern or east side and head deep into the interior.
Here are 5 great Algonquin canoe routes that have high approval ratings from my canoe partners.
Best Weekend Canoe Route
Put in at Achray and paddle out through Stratton, – High Falls through the Canyon and take out at Squirrel Rapids. Fantastic views of the gorge and big drain out that occurred 10,000 years ago. This route can get busy so try and do in shoulder seasons or early summer.
Algonquin Portage can help with your shuttle
Best “one way” trip across the Park
Kawawaymog ( Round )to kiosk
Classic route of gorgeous big lakes and countless options of little lakes north, and south if you want to chew off more. Easy access at access point # 1 and take out at # 29.
Voyageur Quest, have both a guided “one way ” trip and outfitted option with a shuttle
For canoe outfitting, call Voyageur Outfitting for canoe rental, accommodation before and after your trip and shuttle
More on crossing Algonquin, Voyageur Quest offers an epic Algonquin 14 day canoe expedition that crosses Algonquin, from Access 1 on the west side to MacManus lake on the eastern boundary. This trip is made up of two 7 day trips, the first featuring the big lakes and wildlife between Kawawaymog and Cedar lake. Then, switch to whitewater mode and paddle down to the whitewater of the Petawawa river.
Best North to south trip
Brent to Canoe – heart of Algonquin
Another classic- through the heart of Algonquin- my favorite. Put in at access 1 ( Kawawaymog) (or if coming from Ottawa, # 27 Brent) and take out along the 60 corridor #5. If you have the money, the shuttle makes it a nice 6 – 7 day trip. Voyageur Outfitting can rent you a canoe and do the pick up shuttle at Canoe lake. If you want to avoid the shuttle – you can start at Canoe lake , paddle north to Brent and south to Opeongo. A solid 7 day/ 7 night trip for the solid canoe tripper.
Best Highway 60 corridor route
Smoke to Ragged
A rite of passage, this route is easy paddling with one short portage and lot’s of nice campsites on Ragged. For many, their first Algonquin canoe trip.
Portage Store is right at Canoe lake for canoe rentals
Best Family canoe route
This one was hard to nail. Rain Lake was one of several that come to mind. Access # 4 is pretty easy to get to. You can paddle from the access point and get to campsites on Rain or a short portage into Sawyer offers more exploration. Best to keep it simple with kids. Don’t focus on distance. Get to some fun sites and explore. North Tea Lake to Manitou is another great choice. Tiny portages , nice big lakes.
There are no outfitters at Rain lake but you can get a canoe elsewhere and drive in with a canoe on your roof Voyageur Outfitting can help with any outfitting for North tea or Manitou.
Best Romantic canoe route
Keep it simple and head to a private campsite on a massive lake. Opeongo is windy and rugged. Great to watch storms and snuggle next to a fire. Head to access # 11 where Opeongo outfitters has canoes.
Feeling lazy – take a water taxi to your campsite and paddle back.