You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

9/13/2019 9:03 am  #1

First Backcountry backpacking trip - Algonquin Highland Park

I have booked my first backpacking trip through Algonquin's Highland Park Trail for the end of this month.  I am 49 and will be doing it solo.  I am fit and have been doing strength training with a PT for preparation so I feel confident in my ability.  I have read there is some good elevation and challenge to take into consideration.  I recently did the Mizzy Lake and Centennial Ridge trails as 'training runs'.  Has anyone completed this trail recently that can give advice.  Night one is Provoking East and night two is Head Lake.  Also, any suggestions, recommendations would be appreciated.  Any gear that anyone feels is overlooked sometimes that you feel is a must have?  Any gear that most newbs take along that you feel is not really necessary?  Thanks in advance.


9/13/2019 9:49 am  #2

Re: First Backcountry backpacking trip - Algonquin Highland Park

I am not very well versed on the backpacking trails, but I have been paying attention to the Algonquin Advisories lately, and I think there might be an advisory that will apply to you (regarding where you park your car).   "Highland Backpacking Trail Parking Lot - Closed.  The parking lot for the Highland Backpacking Trail is currently closed.  Visitors should use the Old Railway Bike Trail parking lot (within the Mew Lake Campground) as an alternative until further notice.  Information provided by the Friends of Algonquin Park via"


9/13/2019 9:52 am  #3

Re: First Backcountry backpacking trip - Algonquin Highland Park

Thanks MooseWhizzer Dave.  I actually found out about that while I was up there doing my day hikes a couple weeks ago.  Apparently the parking area has been washed out since spring.

     Thread Starter

9/25/2019 8:32 pm  #4

Re: First Backcountry backpacking trip - Algonquin Highland Park

Hope I'm not too late in posting... your Highland Trail plan should be no problem based on what sounds like a pretty decent personal fitness level. It's certainly no more demanding than Centennial Ridges (just longer). Don't miss the Starling Lake Lookout if you're hitting that section of trail - well worth the short detour. 

As for gear tips, I highly recommend warm under clothing and a tuque - the nights can feel colder than anticipated. Lots of light weight high calorie foods will be appreciated as it's amazing how much energy is burned, even when resting in cool temps. Having said that, you don't want to burden yourself with too much food - better to be marginally hungry than walk out with 5 extra pounds I say! As I like camp fires (modest ones), I always bring a small folding saw. When foraging for wood, I look for hardwood/maple stands and search for fallen limbs that are off the ground. Birch bark is an awesome fire starter (but not from live trees). I always carry a backup pack of matches and often a small lighter - just in case. I never carry more than 1 litre of water at any given time as there's lots of spots to re-stock - at 2.2 lbs/litre, it's heavy. Finally, hiking poles are another must for me, but that's a personal preference of course.

Hope this helps!




1/28/2020 1:41 am  #5

Re: First Backcountry backpacking trip - Algonquin Highland Park

(Just to chew the fat... incidentally I wonder how the trip went?)

One time I miscalculated the time needed and it got pretty dark en route to Head Lake. It also rained quite a bit so although the rain finally stopped, things were pretty sodden by the time I got there. Darn it, no fire (I was thinking)...

I dropped some of my gear and investigated the fire pit. Surprise!!! Someone had thought to shelter some firewood and kindling in a plastic bag or under some birch bark... I forget which. Wow, hot food! And a nice fire!!

Ever since I have tried to pay it forward at every campsite I've visited. FWIW one time following a minor emergency (the exact nature of which escapes me now) I went from Head Lake back to the highway the long way via Mosquito Creek in a little over half a day. Those were the days, heh.

Of possible interest... I have a book that was apparently published in Toronto called Wildlife Trails Across Canada by Hugh M. Halliday. It contains a nice account of hiking and sleeping out under the stars in the Smoke Lake area IIRC, in the 1950's. This link contains a small image.

A handwritten note inside the front cover of the book says the author passed away some years ago.


Board footera

LNT Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.