Weekend Wilderness

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Weekend Wilderness
Story by S. R Gage
Explore Magazine – January/ February 2001

For a quick and comfortable winter escape, head to the Algonquin Log Cabin
Outdoor lovers generally fall into two categories- those who like to eat, live and sleep in the bush, and those who prefer slightly more urbane accommodations whilst enjoying the wilderness. For the latter, there¹s Algonquin Log Cabin Lodge, located east of South River, Ontario, where cottage country gives way to Algonquin Provincial Park. Offering plenty of pure snow vastness for winter fun, the lodge also has creature comforts like an enormous central fireplace and wood-fired sauna. You can even take a shuttle van service from Toronto, which will have you in front of the fireplace just before lunch.

Before warming by the fire, get out on traditional wooden snowshoes and tramp four kilometres or more over the Lookout Trail, and above Smyth Lake. Or, take a 15-kilometre ski tour heading east from the lodge across a dam to the south end of Loxton Lake. Originally designed for Nordic competition, the Loxton Beaver Trail has an even mix of hills and flat sections and most of the foliage is still cut back, offering an excellent?and blissfully isolated?forested backcountry tour. (If you haven¹t skied before, the Lodge also offers lessons in the basics of kick-and-glide cross-country skiing.)

Only a short drive away, at Kawawaymog Lake Park, classic dogsledding awaits. Each traditional freight sled sets off with one passenger and one musher?an intense experience for the musher, who must remember the named of the dogs and the proper commands, as well as brake on the turns and dodge the odd low branch.

For more intense activities, the Algonquin Log Cabin Lodge¹s resident guides provide customized programs that focus on winter survival skills, winter camping or ice fishing. A three-day, all-inclusive winter package costs $490; $555 with return shuttle service from Toronto. (416) 486-3605; (800) 794-9660. www.voyageurquest.com.