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11/18/2015 9:52 am  #1


Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

So I'm heading up to the Park for a 6 night solo trip in the middle of December.  I'm REALLY hoping the back country rules are in effect by that time (although I'm not holding my breathe on that as the forecast isn't looking overly cold for the next few weeks).  I'm ok with staying at Mew Lake but I'd sure rather pay $12 vs $45 and get a bit more solitude  

I've only ever stayed in the Airfield at Mew in terms of back-country winter camping.  Can anyone suggest any other decent spots?  I like to be close to my truck as I do travel around a fair bit looking for different photo spots, and my gear is bulky so I usually end up doing two trips in with my sled.  I was thinking of heading off the Minnesing trail somewhere but I'm not sure if there are any decent spots there.

 

 

11/18/2015 11:42 am  #2


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

There have been trip reports from people camping at Little McCauley while parked at the Brewer lake parking lot... can't remember the exact details but that won't be far from the highway and you'll probably be able to base camp there and walk out to the highway on day trips.

About 15 years ago, I spent some time walking the logging roads near the Shall lake access and had a nice walk along an old logging road to a campsite on Booth near the dam. The road is shown on Jeff's map running along the north shore of Farm and Booth.... the snow wasn't deep and hiking boots were enough to get there. There are other possibilities here, Billy, Oram, Shirley, but I don't think this is the sort of place you're looking for.

Some time could be spent checking out other places near the highway, eg. Bluff, Pinetree, Sunday and others along roads and ports that cross Hwy 60, with time you'll probably find something that you can return to year after year without having to pay those high campground fees... good luck.

 

11/18/2015 12:12 pm  #3


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Well, maybe not Little McCauley since the port in crosses a high ridge, too much if there's lots of gear.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/352882/thread/1107800906/Winter+camping+pics+(Jan+29-31)

 

11/18/2015 1:42 pm  #4


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

You could probably get to Little McCauley without trekking over the ridge by following the old rail bed there from where it branches off of Highway 60 north of Brewer Lake. It's quite overgrown but might be okay to walk in the winter.

But remember that you're not allowed to camp on the shore of a lake in the winter. (The OP on the linked thread from 2005 wasn't aware of the rule.) So I don't really know if it makes sense to think of destinations in terms of lakes, unless you want to be near a lake for photography purposes? Some lakes might make for good exploring, but even if there is good snow cover by mid December I wouldn't count on safe ice.

So what exactly constitutes a "decent spot" for backcountry winter camping?

 

11/18/2015 1:56 pm  #5


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Thanks for the replies guys.  I'm assuming lakes will not be frozen when I go up so I'm counting that out.   So what do I consider a decent spot?  I'm certainly not a hardcore back country winter camper.  When I say that I mean I'm not the guy that takes his sled 5kms + back into the bush.  I like my creature comforts so I do not pack light.  For that reason I'd like to find a spot that is easy access from my vehicle.  I normally do two trips with all my gear so I don't want to be far away.  I also spend a lot of time driving around the park, hence the desire to have close access to my truck.  I would prefer a spot tucked away and sheltered from the wind so a lakeside site wouldn't be my first choice.  The airfield has been a great spot in the past as it fits the above criteria (also having access to a comfort station is a plus).  I'm not opposed to heading back to the airfield but I would like to try a different spot if at all possible.

     Thread Starter
 

11/18/2015 3:11 pm  #6


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

You could be serious winter-camping, or you could be frozen-ground-no-snow camping.  I'm betting the lakes will be frozen, though.

If there is no snow, then your options are limitless. 

If there has been snow, then the options get narrowed down a lot.  Parking is the main problem once the snow falls.

If you start your trip when there is no snow, the scenario could change quickly with a good dusting of snow.

I think you would need to make your destination decision the week before you want to leave.


Barbara
 


Take everything as it comes; the wave passes, deal with the next one.

Tom Thomson, 1877-1917
 

11/18/2015 3:31 pm  #7


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Granted that without snow you can park just about anywhere along Hwy 60, but aren't there limits to where park staff would allow a car to sit overnight? I really don't know. If there is snow, you can park at any access point or day-hiking trailhead, with the possible exception of trails that are closed for the winter like the Big Pines. Which if any roads off Hwy 60 will be plowed out remains to be seen.

When I asked what constitutes a decent spot, I already understood you wanted to stay reasonably close to the road, but within that buffer what is even a "spot" for winter backcountry camping purposes? Like, are you looking for a flat, treeless area like a bog or meadow so that you can set up extensive gear without having to worry about space? If that is not your concern, wouldn't just about anywhere in the forest satisfy your shelter requirements? Are you looking for scenery right at your campsite (which can be a difficult stipulation to combine with shelter, and distance from waterways)? Or are you trying to avoid bushwhacking and looking for a trail of some sort that could help you get a little ways into the bush?

 

11/18/2015 3:44 pm  #8


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Thanks guys.  Sorry DanPM I get what you are saying now.  You are correct in that pretty much any flat area would work, preferably in a stand of trees somewhere.  I'd just need enough space for my hot tent etc.  So ya pretty much any spot in the forest would work.  Not super concerned about it being "scenic" as I spend most of the day away from the site.  A trail would be nice to make access easier and like Barbara mentioned, having a place to park the truck is a must.  I know it's pretty hard to find a spot like that which is why I usually just end up staying in the airfield.  Perhaps this trip Ill have to devote some time to scoping out some new spots!

     Thread Starter
 

11/18/2015 3:57 pm  #9


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

You can camp next to a lake as long as you are 30m away from the shoreline and any campsites... for me the ideal spot would be a place on a lake with a south or west-facing exposure, with some conifers inland where I could pitch the tent and make a fire with some shelter from the wind. Having a lake or river nearby means lots of water is available. The Booth lake campsites I described earlier were ideal with the south exposure providing sun and a good view of the lake to sit and relax and have some coffee, but too far away for Steve's purposes.

There must be some place near Hwy 60 that could offer good features for winter camping but I haven't spent any time searching these places out. Maybe Pinetree or Bluff... need boots on the ground here.
 

 

11/18/2015 9:05 pm  #10


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Steve, have you considered the Sunday Lake Trail? Snowshoeing is allowed, and does not cross lakes. There is a pretty good report by Cousin Pete on Wintertrekking.com from last year...

That is my plan for Dec 19-21. Anyone have experience with this trail?

Cheers,
Marko

PS. Link:
http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/dog-sledding.php

Last edited by Marko_Mrko (11/18/2015 9:06 pm)

 

11/18/2015 9:54 pm  #11


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

I spent a night at Hiram lake last January.  We were dog sledding. Trail was excellent with lots of variation. Very senic area in my opinion. Pretty well signed trail system. Be sure to pick up a trail map. There is parking avaiable in a plowed lot. The trail did cross a few lakes and streams but there is alternatives in the event there is no ice. Hoping to head there early in the new year. Have fun no matter where you head.

 

11/19/2015 8:56 am  #12


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Have you checked out the trip reports in the "winter" section?

http://www.algonquinadventures.com/winter/WinterIndex.htm


Barbara


Take everything as it comes; the wave passes, deal with the next one.

Tom Thomson, 1877-1917
 

11/19/2015 9:00 am  #13


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Thanks Barbara I have read most of those but I'm going to give them another read

     Thread Starter
 

11/19/2015 9:36 am  #14


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Steve, if you are trying to find a new place to winter camp, Killarney PP might be a good alternative. IIRC they have several yurts in a walk-in area but bringing in your own tent and toboggan is probably OK somewhere near there... check with park staff where you can set up. Again IIRC, there are washrooms.and running water.

Winter scenery in Killarney should be great in Dec before the lakes freeze totally solid.... trail to Lumsden lake and the peak there, Tar Vat trail near town, and the Chikanishing trail overlooking Georgian Bay.... none of these include water crossings.



 

 

11/19/2015 9:49 am  #15


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

Thanks Frozentripper that's an option I hadn't really thought about.  Funny story about the last time I was winter camping at Killarney...it was years ago (back when there was a strike at the Park, so I'm thinking about 20 years ago) and I went up with my dad.  We had planned to car camp but when we got there nothing was ploughed out.  We didn't have a sled or anything so we hauled all of our gear back into a site by loading it all up onto a tarp and dragging the tarp over the snow for at least a km...My god was that ever exhausting!  Lesson learned:  tarps to not make good sleds

Last edited by Steve E (11/19/2015 9:50 am)

     Thread Starter
 

11/20/2015 12:29 pm  #16


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

I think it's going to have to come down to conditions and what's plowed/closed when you go. What you're looking for in a campsite is fairly generic, your best bet is probably just to walk an easy trail until you see a stand of trees that meets your preference for thick enough to provide shelter but open and flat enough to make camp; then you just have to bushwhack 30 m off the trail. But you'll need a trail you can get to and park at.

A logging road might be better than a trail, if you can confirm through the AFA operations map ( http://algonquinforestry.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/AWS_Webmap.pdf ) that it won't be in use, in that it would give you more privacy than a hiking trail, it's not going to be very rugged/steep, and you probably don't have to worry about the 30 m rule (or at least not the unofficial "out of sight" rule). The issue then becomes parking, since unlike day hiking trails there are no parking lots for logging roads.

One good bet might be the logging road that forms the first part of the Costello Creek lookout trail. In past winters the Opeongo Road has been plowed up to and including the parking lot from where it starts. If people are hiking to the lookout, the snow will even be packed down for you, though for privacy sake you might want to continue along the road beyond the turnoff to the lookout (about 900m in).

Of course if it turns out snow cover is thin and lakes aren't frozen, you might want to go frozentripper's way and camp near a lake for water.

 

11/20/2015 4:51 pm  #17


Re: Heading Up in December - Location Suggestions?

I know winter camping is allowed in kawartha provincial park. It has lots of different access points from different roads. Not sure which roads are kept open through the winter. No idea what the wild life situation would be.
Maybe worth while checking out.
Wanda S

 

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