Algonquin Park is one of Canada's largest provincial parks with more than 2,000 lakes. Established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1893, it's famous for its natural beauty. It's familiar beyond its borders for the landscape's profound influence on the Group of Seven artists who came here to find inspiration; they recorded their impressions in timeless works of art that hang in galleries the world over, especially in the AGO in Toronto. (There's also an unsolved mystery known to fans of the famous troupe of pioneering painters: Tom Thomson drowned in these waters as a young man. Foul play is widely considered since he was an expert canoeist.)
The interior of Algonquin Park can be accessed by foot or by canoe. There are three backpacking trails in the park covering more than 140km (87 miles) of ground. Canoe route variations are almost infinite; routes extend for 2,100km (1,305 miles) in a network that crisscrosses the whole of the park. Go for 1 night or 10, or take a season, if you can.
Call it a cliché if you must, but paddling a canoe here is truly one of the most entrancing things to experience. There is an embracing calm and relaxation that come with being far-removed from any bustle; imagine silence at sunset broken only by the splash of a fish jumping on a still lake.
The park is open year-round, and you're free to make the trip as invigorating as you like: Experience the pure exhilaration from hiking the network of trails, paddle white-water canoes, or simply dive from one of the many rugged cliffs into bracing, clear lakes. But deciding the right time and place to go can be the difference between remembering beautiful sun-dappled days on the water . . . or fleeing storms of hungry black flies. As the old Boy Scouts motto goes: Be prepared.
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