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9/26/2016 6:50 am  #1

Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

Hello folks, I am looking to do a little solo backpacking on the weekend of October 15-16. Emphasis on little, as I plan to walk a few hours into the bush, set up a base camp and stay there for a couple of days.

I was originally planning on going the first weekend of the month, but surprisingly to me campsites were booked up for that weekend when I checked at the beginning of September. It would appear as if backpacking is increasing in popularity. There's no way I could leave the family on Thanksgiving weekend, so the 15th became my next opportunity. However, when I checked the online reservation page, I discovered campsites cannot be booked in advance after Thanksgiving.

I sent an email to the Park asking about their policy and was informed that while reservations are not taken after Thanksgiving, I could call before driving up to check availability.

I don't consider this particularly ideal as there are limited sites available in a given bookable campsite area. Does anyone have any personal experience or advice to offer in regard to off-season gambling on campsite availability (aside from getting there as early in the day as possible)?

Thank you for your consideration, I appreciate it.


9/26/2016 8:20 am  #2

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

I think you are raising an interesting point.   From the perspective of the MNR there is little point in operating the reservation system past Thanksgiving weekend -- almost all provincial parks are closed then and usage of the few parks that remain open drops sharply.   However, I am not sure that the backcountry hiking trails in Algonquin follow this pattern.  Fall is certainly one of the best times of the year for hiking so I would not be surprised to find that a good number of people are still using the Western Uplands and Highland trails after Thanksgiving.  Canoe camping starts to get iffy after Thanksgiving as water temperatures drop and the increased chance of strong winds impact safety, but hiking isn't affected as much by these changing conditions.


9/26/2016 10:19 am  #3

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

Hi there,

A buddy and I had a post-Thanksgiving backcountry stay on Maple Leaf Lake (Saturday) several years back. We did get to the park fairly early (around 9), and had no problem with our pick of sites. Having said that, it wasn't the best weather (grey with a couple showers), so it may be a bit different if the weather is nicer. Provided you get to the park early, I'd be surprised if there wasn't something available at Maple Leaf or Guskewau for a shorter hike. Failing this, I'd be totally shocked if all sites within 12 km's of the hwy 60 trailhead would be booked up.

On a side note, I've also noticed that backcountry sites are booking up considerably more this year. I'm not sure if it's because backpacking is getting popular, if it's a reaction to car-camping sites being unavailable, or the awesome weather getting people out - maybe a bit of all these things? I for one would really love to see more backcountry hiking/camping options in the near north to accommodate this!

Hope this helps,



9/26/2016 7:04 pm  #4

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

I do most of my backpacking trips in the fall. You should have no problem booking for your preferred route or lake.


9/27/2016 6:22 am  #5

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

Thank you for your thoughts.
Yelowcanoe - I am thinking along the same lines as you.
Rich - I am actually wanting to go on the Highland Trail and stay on Provoking. The dilemma is to pick Provoking East or West. I prefer East, but there is one awful campsite there (right on the trail and on a slope) and if that's the only one left I am out of luck. Also, I'm not in tip top shape so a 12 km hike is out of the question for me. Agree completely with you in regard to more options! Also, with the popularity of recent movies like Wild and A Walk In the Woods, I imagine a lot more folks are giving backpacking a try.
Dave - Thank you for the heads up, that's encouraging.

Tracy (FYI I am a guy)

     Thread Starter

9/27/2016 6:40 pm  #6

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

Hi Tracy,

Whoops, sorry for my Western Uplands assumption! I'm not as sure about the Highland trail at this time, but Dave's word is gold as far as I'm concerned. If you're planning a couple of nights, then arriving on a Friday morning  should give you an advantage vs. arriving on Saturday.

Good point about the recent movies - it likely prompts some fence-sitters to try backpacking...

Enjoy your weekend out!



10/02/2016 4:58 pm  #7

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

I was hoping to enjoy a backpacking trip in Algonquin on Thanksgiving weekend...however any loop I looked at was booked.  That leaves me to venture elsewhere.  I'd like to see the fall colours but it seems everyone beat me to the booking (I've been on this for a couple of weeks).  Georgian Trail is where I'll spend my long weekend.


10/11/2016 2:09 pm  #8

Re: Availability of Backcountry Campsites in mid-October

Hi folks,
I have started packing for my trip this weekend, getting excited.
Can't take Friday off so my plan is to go up either Friday evening (stay at Mew Lake for one night) or early Saturday morning. I'll try to take some decent photos and submit a trip log afterwards.


     Thread Starter

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