For the last 19 or so years I have spent the time between Christmas and New Years in Algonquin Park. There are four families who come and our parents were all friends and now we kids are all friends. The first few years we snowshoed but then one year my friends Alison and Lindsay arrived with skis and I was oh so jealous as I trudged away on my snowshoes while they glided and slipped away on their skis. So the year I was 5 for Christmas I got my first pair of Peltonen three pin binding cross country skis and I went for my first ski across the road from the resort.
My early memories of skiing at Algonquin are wishing I could ski as fast as Lindsay and my Mother giving me chocolate every kilometer. Skiing in Algonquin is different than skiing on a wide groomed trail. The trails we ski on are groomed for the most part about 3-4 times a week for classic only. My great classic technique, I think, is partly attributed to this week of being forced to classic when I was younger. Skiing in Algonquin is best done as a full day adventure. We have always packed a lunch and eaten it freezing on the trail or inside one of the lovely but extremely warm ski cabins that are scattered throughout the park.
I have never been to the park in the summer so I have little to compare it to but the park in winter is gorgeous. These days I am one of the few people out of the group who skis consistently throughout the winter so I wear tons of clothes and I must say I rather enjoy skiing slowly and chatting constantly while looking at the view of the forest. There are many great trails in Algonquin and the following is a review of some of my favorites!
This is my friend Herewardís favorite and probably mine too. The first section is groomed then there is a back, shall we call it an adventure loop, which is a skied in trail but the view from the far chalet makes it totally worth it.
Leslie Frost Nordic Ski Centre
The Leslie Frost
Center is located just west of the
park near Dorset and has about 25 km of classic trails.
This trail had two chalets and is one of my favorites. Donít get put off by the
first kilometer. This trail is, after Leaf
Lake, one of my favorites. There
are some great frozen waterfalls and lookouts. Trail fee is $10. and when you
are done you have to stop by the famous country store in Dorset.
This is the trail starting right from the West Gate visitorís center in Algonquin Park. The trail is flat for the first bit until you get to the lunch cabin. Then you head up and up and you get rewarded with a nice long downhill. The trail then goes through some swamps. One year a beaver had almost wreaked the trail and it took a good 2 hours to do the last 2 km climbing over ice bridges and almost frozen water; however, this trail is usually not that extreme.
†Beatle Trail (Snowshoeing)
On the west side of the Park, the Beatle Trail offers a great view of Oxtongue Lake and some great swamp walking sans mosquitoes. If you donít own snow shoes you can rent them from Algonquin Outfitters which is right at the trail head.
This trail I believe is only accessible to people staying at Blue Spruce Resort. It is a short trail system, excellent for short night or quick afternoon skis, with some fun runs like Maple Slush and Hadenís Hop.
So if you are headed to Algonquin this winter, head out on some of these trails or some of the other trails in the park but watch out. You may become addicted and end up going back 19 years in a row!
(Photo Credits Hereward Longley, Visit him at www.herewardlongley.com)