I just finished a three day trip to Algonquin park and I cannot say enough about it. It was absolutely fantastic! The weather was awesome, the trails were great, and the company was absolutely fantastic.
And, a definite big shout out to Bryan and Carol Foley for organizing this weekend. Many thanks and you two rock!
The snow was powder, deep, and plentiful. This, of course, meant on the first day, we had a lot of trail breaking to do.
Mizzy Lake Back Country Trail in Algonquin Park
On the first day, we left at 9:30 AM and returned around 4:30 PM. We were exhausted but exhilarated at the same time. I can honestly say that if there had not been 14 of us to take turns at breaking the trail, it would have been a lot longer and we may not have been able to finish it. We had to stop several times to dig people out as the snow was so deep that we could not even find the trail at times and people would slip off and become stuck.
The scenery was absolutely fantastic and the weather, while cold, was just about perfect. The sun was shining high in the sky and there was no wind. Everyone was in a fantastic mood and ready to conquer anything that was put in front of us. We stopped for lunch around noon and pulled out our flasks for a wee nip, then carried on.
The Mizzy Lake trail is 11 km’s long and has many ups and downs. The elevations and descents are definitely not for the faint of heart when it comes to snowshoeing. As this one one of my first snowshoe trips with this bunch, I can honestly say that I was not expecting such a magnificent, yet tough hike. There were those among us that definitely put me to shame and I can honestly say that after doing this hike, snowshoeing is not for wimps. lol
Mizzy lake allows you to visit nine lakes or ponds, so you can just imagine some of the expanses we had to navigate in order to complete this trail. In addition to the challenge of just completing this hike, we also saw many animal tracks and some of the party saw a moose back among the trees. I was not so lucky, otherwise I would have snapped a pic for sure. While this hike is rated as Moderate in the summer, in the winter, it is no joke. We had a large amount of snow the previous two days and encountered no other parties on the trail that day. This meant snowshoeing through snow up to our waists at times and cutting brand new trails as we crossed ponds or lakes.
If you are interested in more information about the Mizzy Lake trail, here is a link to the Trail Guide for Mizzy Lake: Mizzy Lake Trail Guide
One of the other things to not about the Mizzy Lake trail is that dogs are not allowed. This greatly increases your chance of encountering other wildlife along the way. So, if you ever get the chance to hike Mizzy Lake, keep your eyes open as there is a good chance you will encounter something along the way.
Here are some great examples of what we had to tackle during this hike. It was definitely a ton of fun! 🙂
When we awoke and began this hike, it was -23 Celsius, or -9.4 Fahrenheit. That equates to pretty cold, so we all made sure we were well equipped and ready for the cold. I wore my standard cold weather gear for this hike, which is listed in my Extreme Cold Outdoors Gear Test article. I was quite warm and it definitely helped that my body generated even more heat as I was carrying a backpack with me as well.
Here is a quick video clip of some of the trail. I was at the back, so the other had already broken this part.
Western Uplands Trail
On the second day we hiked up the Western Uplands trail to Maple Leaf Lake and back. While this was not as tough a hike as the Mizzy Lake Trail was, it was just about perfect for the second day of snowshoeing trip.
The Western Uplands trail is generally an overnight backpacking trail but many people use portions of it for snowshoeing or do the whole trail in the winter for winter camping excursions. It has loops that range from 32 km’s to 88 km’s in length and is rated as a difficult hike due to steep inclines, side slopes, and sharp turns.
You can find out more in Backpacking Trails Map book, available on the Algonquin Parks site.
We had some darn good weather that day as well. While colder than the day before, everyone was warmed up and ready to roll. We even had a chance to have lunch and do some snowshoeing on Maple Leaf lake itself. Can’t get much better than that. The temps when we start that day were -30 C or -22 F. Pretty cold, yes, but definitely manageable and nobody was worse for the wear.
Our party for this hike was a little smaller with 8 of us making it to Maple Leaf Lake and back, but they were still a very lively and fun bunch to travel with.
Here are a few shots from this hike
And now for some video that show’s what it was like while hiking in the wood.
Final Hike Rating
Five Star hike all the way and if I was giving ratings to the organizers and other participants, it would be ten stars. I highly recommend people checkout these hikes during any season. You will not be disappointed at all. These hikes are not for the novice hiker, but anyone with some experience will do just fine. Should you decide to thru-hike the Western Uplands, please make sure you are prepared as you would be for any thru-hike. This really is a harder trail.
Both trails will require a park pass and the Western Uplands requires a back country camping pass.
I would to hear your thoughts should you hike any of these trails, so please use the comments below should you have any input.