Few have discovered Ontario’s largest Provincial Park from the bottom up. Far removed from the bustling East and West gates of Hwy 60, Algonquin’s South Gate is located near the hamlet of Harcourt on Elephant Lake Road and is a much more relaxing experience. Although you’ll find the cell phone signal begin to fade away you’ll soon find why the South Gate is a quiet corner on the map that enjoys a closer connection to the park while offering many amenities and services to fuel your adventure.
There is the High Falls Hiking Trail, The Byers Lake Mountain Bike Trail, Scorch Lake Lookout and so much more. As well you will find great adventure with our tour operators like camping, horseback riding, canoe & kayaks. Please note that an Algonquin Park day permit is required and are available at Pine Grove Point Lodge located just beyond the Kingscote Lake Access Point Rd. intersection.
IF YOU LIKE BEING ON THE WATER
The Kingscote Lake Access point is a must if you love padding on the water. You can either bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one during the summer.
Deep Roots Adventure provides a wide selection of rental gear and camp meals to go including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can even book full camping packages that include everything you need – just bring your clothes!
If your looking for a guided experience check out their most popular day trip, High Falls Paddle, Explore & Dine, or something perfect for larger groups, the Paddle, Ride & Dine. You can book a custom date for a group, or join in on one of their pre-scheduled dates.
MOUNTAIN & GRAVEL BIKING
The Southern part of Algonquin Park has the Byers Lake Mountain Bike Trail, a short mountain bike trail of 6.5 km (13 km round trip) and moderate degree of difficulty can also be accessed east of the Kingscote Access Point. Once on the mountain bike trail, there is an interesting 150-metre side trail that provides access to Gut Rapids, which is a narrow scenic canyon on the York River.
Looking for a unique backcountry gravel-riding adventure? The Kingscote/South Cauliflower Lake loop offers 70 kms of almost pure gravel through the park. This is not southern Ontario gravel; you are more likely to see a moose than a café. You need to be mechanically self-sufficient as cell coverage is spotty and long stretches are not accessible to motorized vehicles. If you are looking for an entry level gravel ride, try out the Kingscote Lake Short Loop.
You can find more gravel biking route in the area by clicking here.
HIKING TO HIGH FALLS
If hiking is one of your favorite things be sure to explore the High Falls Hiking Trail, Starting from the High Falls parking area, the trail follows an old road through a Red Pine plantation. It then becomes a footpath northward through hardwood forests on the west side of the York River. The trail connects with the first portage on the river then branches off to a rock point north of High Falls. From the end of the trail you have a view of the top of the rapids upstream of High Falls and a view downstream of the falls.
EXPLORE THE TRAILS ON HORSEBACK
South Algonquin Trails Equestrian Outfitters has been providing memorable horseback riding experiences at the south end of Algonquin Park, in the Haliburton Highlands since 1999. They offer pony rides, various lengths of trail rides, overnights, morning summer camp, campsites to camp with your own horses, cabins and stall rentals.
With access to many kilometres of trails, you can be assured of fun, exciting and safe rides, led by experienced and certified trail guides. Being a family oriented Stable they offer something for everyone along with trails and horses for all levels of riding experience.
Tips For Algonquin Park Camping
- Book early – Campsites and roofed accommodations at Silent Lake can book up fast. But, you can beat the crowd by booking up to 1-month ahead on the Ontario Provincial Park online booking system. You can access that here.
- But don’t give up – Many Ontario campsites book up early, but many also have last-minute cancellations. If you don’t mind last minute planning, keep checking the Ontario Parks site to see if there are any late openings. Sometimes this is the best way to get a prime site.
- Plan the weather – Watch the weather forecasts before your Silent Lake camping trip. And always prepare for the worst. You never know what could happen without warning. Pack tarps for covering your gear, mosquito repellent, and, of course, sunscreen for all that time outdoors.
- Don’t move firewood – This can be a hard one to swallow since the Ontario Parks aren’t known for providing the best firewood. But moving firewood from one destination to another can cause devastation.
Another option for camping is Pine Grove Point Campground which is located just south of Algonquin Park. They have affordable sites which cater to all needs whether you you want a wilderness site, full service site, cottages, or group camping. While you are there you can take advantage of their fully stocked convenience store; gift shop; Pizza & Snack Shack; our central bathrooms complete with hot coin operated showers and laundry; dock availability; beautiful sandy beach; playground; horseshoe pits; sandy volleyball court; watercraft rentals; etc.
THINGS TO DO WHILE YOU ARE HERE
If you are spending more than a weekend at Algonquin’s South Gate area you may want to take the time to explore some of the other great things to do. Since Algonquin Park is right among some of the most spectacular attractions of the Ontario Highlands there are many great places to explore.
GEOCACHING CAPITAL OF CANADA
Home of the most popular GeoTour in Canada, the Geocaching Capital of Canada is located in Highlands East, prime Geocaching Country, a geocacher’s paradise. We offer creative caches hidden in and around magnificent forests and pristine lakes where you can enjoy leisurely and muggle-free geocaching on foot, by bicycle, on horseback, ATV or snowmobile, or by simply driving the scenic back roads.
Click here to read our story about Geocaching 101.
Mineral collecting is a fun outdoor activity. Adults and kids alike will delight in the chance to dig for buried treasure, and bring home some colourful gems of your very own! Highlands East is proud to be the first municipality in Ontario to take steps to secure public mineral collecting sites.
As fun as poking around in the woods looking for buried treasure can be, you may want to get some local advice to point you in the right direction. At Greenmantle Farms you can take a guided tour of some great natural exposures of local minerals and get some insight into their formation. Mineral collecting is not permitted at this site. Cameras are welcome, but hammers are not.
For a more complete guided package, check out the offerings of Yours Outdoors – a local outdoor experience company. From weekend getaways with guided tours and collecting excursions, to full vacation packages, your host, Barry Martin, will help make sure your Highlands experience rocks.