Rustic Comfort and Adventure in the Algonquin Bush

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Rustic Comfort and Adventure in the Algonquin Bush
By Katherine Jacob – Special to the Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Saturday August 28, 1999

Log Cabin Lodge, nestled in the woods on Symth Lake, offers a unique year – round encounter with the wilderness.
If you want comfort and adventure in the wilderness, Algonquin Log Cabin Lodge offers both in spades. Located at the northwestern corner of Algonquin Park, it combines rugged wilderness outing with the warmth of an old-style log cabin.

Catering to small groups, the cabin is limited to a maximum of 10 guests and two guides, who will lead you into Algonquin Park on unmarked trails not frequented by tourists. You return to the comfort of the log cabin, welcomed by a warm glow from the fieldstone fireplace and the prospect of traditional pioneer meals of freshly baked bread, smoked fish and wild game.

Nestled in the woods on Smyth Lake, known to locals as Surprise Lake, the cabin is close to trails that lead through hardwood forest, past rocky ridges and by chains of ponds and lakes.

In the winter, you can cross-country ski through the backcountry, snowshoe to a ridge overlooking a series of lakes or try howling with the wolves at night. Lodge guests can drive their own dogsled team with Choc Paw, the largest commercial dog sled operation in Canada; or they can overnight in a canvas tent, a traditional method of winter camping demonstrated to lodge guides by winter travel expert, Bob Davis. All trips eventually return to the cabin, where you can warm up in a wood-fired sauna. Hand built during the fall of 1997, the cabin has no telephone or television, leaving guests to watch the stars at night and listen to the crackling embers from the fireplace. The candle and kerosene lighting give the lodge a warm ambience, and the log dining table brings a touch of the surrounding woodlands inside. The log cabin has all the makings of home – handcrafted items, comfy chairs and wool blankets to curl up in. There\’s always a basket of fruit on the dining table and a bowl of nuts in the living room. On the upper floor, wooden bookshelves offer interesting fireside reading. Accommodations at the lodge are basic. There are six double-occupancy rooms with single beds (make sure you bring a flashlight, as there are no lights in the bedrooms). Two indoor washrooms are shared by guests and one shower is available in the sauna building.

Each season of the year offers unique programs. In the spring, the lodge becomes a base for interpretative walks that feature edible wild herbs, rare orchids and moose watching. The lodge\’s three-night spring package is generally available from mid-May to late June, at a cost of $225 to $375 a person. During the summer, the lodge offers guided canoe trips with 4.l8-metre and 7.8-metre Voyageur canoes and traditional storytelling with Ojibway elder Alex Jacob. There are two fall packages. A fully-guided three-day package, including meals and two nights double occupancy, is $375 per person, double occupancy. A $225 package offers meals, accommodation and a choice of three excursions. Return transfer from Toronto is available for $75 a person.

Of course, you can also explore the wilderness on your own. Guides will point you in the direction of the trails and the landscape is yours to discover.

As for the true location of the cabin, it\’s a secret. There aren\’t any directional signs on the highway. Even the 15-minute drive down a winding gravel road reaches a dead end. But that\’s where the road stops and the wilderness starts – a junction at which you\’ll find the Algonquin Log Cabin Lodge.

For further information, call Voyageur Quest, at (416) 486-3605. Web site www.voyageurquest.com Reservations call (416) 486-3605, fax (416) 486-3604 or E-mail at info@voyageurquest.com

Katherine Jacob is a Kitchener-based writer, photographer and author of Bruce Peninsula Trails, released this spring by Conservation Lands of Ontario.