Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Galeairy Lake, Algonquin Interior

Location: 100 km from Huntsville (1.5 hrs), 240 km from Ottawa (3 hrs)
Website: Friends of Algonquin Park or Ontario Parks
Map: Google Maps Canoe Routes
Camping Facilities: Backcountry
Grade: C+
Cloud Lake - Centennial Ridges Trail
Summary: Uneventful paddling on a lake filled with tourists on pontoon boats.
Stargazing: Good   
Thoughts:  I'll keep this brief, because I didn't venture far enough to have much meaningful material to provide.  We did this trip with the aim to base camp while making day trips around the highway 60 corridor, specifically to hike the Centennial Ridges trail.  As a result, our campsite would ideally be a short paddle from the highway, quiet and in a scenic spot.  Two of my first options (Rock Lake and Canisbay) were completely booked up, Galeairy didn't really fit any of these criteria.

First, the access point is actually located outside the park so you drive past the west gate to get there and paddle back into the park.  The paddle back into the park was manageable on the occasions we did it mainly because the winds weren't to fierce.  If this hadn't been the case, I can imagine it being a bit of a struggle.  Either way, its an hour-long paddle going against the wind, and 45 mins in its absense, till you reach the first site.

Second, you won't find much peace and quiet here, due to relentless motorboat traffic all the up until sunset.  I think this is primarily due to the resort on this lake, but not entirely; on our way out at 6am, some cottagers were already out to try water-skiing on the otherwise calm and peaceful lake.

Finally, there's nothing worth seeing here. We stayed at the first site; though we checked out a few more sites further in, the first site was quite nice and the others would just tack on further paddling to our day trip.  But what we did see during our paddle wasn't noteworthy.  It might get more interesting closer to the portage into Rock, but I suspect it doesn't given that the topography.

Whitefish Lake  - Centennial Ridges Trail
Regarding the Centennial Ridges hike, I was pleasantly surprised at both how nice and short it was, given what I'd read.  The signs post a 6-hr estimated completion time, though my wife and I did it in 3 1/2, with plenty of breaks to enjoy the scenery.  Admittedly, the trail pretty well gives you a single landscape to view (overlooking Whitefish and Lake of Two Rivers), but from many different view points.  The best view point from my perspective is the final one (signpost #10) overlooking Whitefish Lake.  The most unpleasant signpost was at Cloud Lake, due to the clouds of mosquitoes that descend upon you as you approach (this was early July, I'm sure its much better after mid-August).  A fun and worthwhile hike, though if you don't want do the whole 10 km hike, just head south toward signpost #10 where the trail splits.

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