Updated: Mar 3, 2022
Hello, and welcome to the humble, hidden gem that is South Algonquin township - deep in Ontario’s hinterland.
Seek adventure and find fulfillment when you choose this quiet, off-the-grid expanse of serene wilderness for your next vacation away from the hustle and bustle of city life and more popular cottage communities.
Ontario’s true hinterland region, South Algonquin is located at the southernmost tip of the Nipissing District, just east of Algonquin Provincial Park. South Algonquin is a quiet, untouched wilderness calling you to come and experience true nature.
When you visit South Algonquin there is something for everyone to love, all year round.
Well-suited to the needs of families and lone adventure seekers alike, this stunning and old world township has exactly what you need to enjoy yourself while you get off the grid for a while.
Here are our top 12 best things to do in South Algonquin through the year:
Year-round activities in South Algonquin
Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer, or a first-time stargazer, the night sky in South Algonquin offers some of the greatest “light shows” you can experience. Whether you’re hoping to catch a shooting star, a meteor shower or even a glimpse of the milky way or an awe inspiring aurora, there are many safe public and secret viewing locations in South Algonquin, and next to no light pollution to interfere with your views!
Some of the best spots for stargazing are: Madawaska Park and the Madawaska Trestle Bridge, Tom & Mick Murray Park Beach, Rapid Lake Trestle Bridge in Whitney, and Galeairy Beach. All of these locations give you great sky views and the benefit of all the stars reflecting in the water. In spring, summer and fall, you can also visit Four Corners Algonquin, a fully AODA accessible campground in South Algonquin. Not only are they investing in night sky guided tour opportunities, they host online night sky weather forecasts for both Whitney and Madawaska allowing you to see the night sky weather up to 2 days in advance!
2. Multi-use trail systems
All year long you have access to dozens of kilometres of trails that lead through South Algonquin from one end to the other. Whether you’re on foot, bicycle, ATV, skis, snowshoes or a snowmobile, there are trails for you to cruise along. Watch for improvements to these trails coming soon, as the South Algonquin Business Alliance partners with the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance to turn these into multi-use, multi-season outdoor sport and recreation opportunities. More info about these trails can be found at:
We also encourage people to check out crowd-sourced trail information and reviews like those found at Alltrails.com.
3. Landscape lookouts
No matter the time of year, when you travel along our trails, there will be sights to see. Experience the vivid colours of fall at the Whitney Dam or the cotton candy sunsets at any of our beautiful beaches.
Pause to watch the Madawaska River flowing from its headwaters - right where the river (and story!) begins. Or paddle on top of it by canoe or kayak. You can paddle right up to some of our waterfalls! Stop to picnic along the Bear Lake/Burnetts/Spectacle Lake trail system, and keep your cameras ready to capture some of those breathtaking moments you can only experience in our township.
Or if you’re spending the day on the water, canoe into Algonquin Park from Access point #13 in the village of Whitney. Along the way, visit the sandy beach at Farm Bay, or the waterfall at Rock Lake Dam.
Carve a hole in the ice beneath crisp blue skies or wait until the waters are warm and flowing.
No matter when you drop your line, there will be fish waiting to be caught. Take a look at which fish we have and where to find them.
Some of our favourite shore fishing spots are Rapid Lake Trestle, the Whitney Trestle, and the dam in Whitney. In Madawaska, check out the Madawaska River and the Madawaska Trestle Bridge. We also have an ice fishing derby at Bark Lake on Family Day for those with a thirst for friendly competition!
5. Wildlife viewing
All year round, dozens of animals claim these rustic woods as home, and people often ask what to do to increase their chances of seeing some.
The truth is, it’s all rather random. Bear and moose, birds, small mammals like fishers and martins, and larger animals like deer, wolves and coyotes (and so many more!) can all be found here but it’s hard to predict when or where.
On average, you may be more likely to see animals along highway 60 closer to dusk and dawn in the warmer months. Especially in the spring, moose like to eat in marshes by the side of the road where the road salt concentrations are higher from winter runoff. If you keep your eyes peeled in the trees and between the bushes along our trails, you’ll often see signs of life at every turn - scratches, footprints, scat and so on.
Bark Lake in the spring when water levels are low is another wonderful opportunity to see animals as they come out for a sip! Or stop at the famous Chickadee feeding site on the road up to Opeongo Lake in the park in winter. If you bring small bird seed like Niger seed with you, the chickadees will eat right out of your hands, which is delightful to experience at any age!
The animals you see here are wonderful and romantic and awe-inspiring. But remember - it’s definitely not Disney and it’s definitely not a zoo. Grab that one-of-a-kind photo from a safe distance.
Winter activities in South Algonquin
6. Winter Festivities
Join us on Family Day for our annual winter festivities! We like to change things up a little bit every year to keep things fresh and to include new businesses, but the Family Day weekend often involves a fishing derby, skating, a community fish fry, and tobogganing races! Watch our website for more information.
Pack some skates and head out onto the ice while you’re warming your soul with a winter visit to beautiful South Algonquin. You can find information on public skating or attending events at Madawaska Recreation Centre, or the Lester B Smith Recreation Centre in Whitney. Learn more about both at the South Algonquin municipal website under Recreation.
8. Ice climbing
For those eager for action and who love a good adrenaline rush while being surrounded by natural beauty, you might want to consider self-guided ice climbing at McCauley Lake or along Algonquin Park’s Booth trail. South Algonquin is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Ontario for ice climbing, and this is one winter activity the thrill seekers will not want to miss. If you’re not up for the thrill of actually climbing, drive through the highway 60 corridor of Algonquin Park to see the massive ice walls along the roadside.
Fall, summer and spring activities in South Algonquin
8. Family playgrounds
If you’re traveling with a family, it can be hard to keep the kids engaged. Let them explore our playgrounds at RR Booth Park and Tom & Mick Murray Park to get them pumped for a day of wilderness adventure in the mornings, and/or tired enough to fall asleep fast in the evenings!
9. Boating, canoeing & swimming
The ice leaves our lakes by the end of April or the early days of May, leaving our rivers and lakes open to enjoy boating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. We’re surrounded by beautiful beaches for you and your family to enjoy!
Boat launches can be found at Galeairy Lake, Hay Lake, Bark Lake, and Aylen Lake. Take a look at our canoe routes to help you plan your trip around all the sights you don’t want to miss – for example, some of our waterfalls are only accessible by canoe & kayak!
10. Algonquin Park access points
You can access Algonquin Park at several points within the South Algonquin borders by canoe, (see below) or at either of the two gates on Highway 60. Water access is available via: Galeairy Lake Access Point 13, Hay Lake Access Point 16, Shall Lake Access Point 17, Aylen Lake Access Point 18. Save the parking pass entry fee and enjoy your day in Algonquin Park!
11. Provincial park access
Did you know that we have two other provincial parks that lie within the boundaries of our township? Upper Madawaska Provincial Park and Opeongo River Provincial Park are also beautiful locations worth visiting during your stay. These parks are water access only, so you’ll want to plan for a canoe trip out of Algonquin Park and down these rivers.
Bonus activities in South Algonquin
Chokecherry Season. Come visit us in mid-August when the chokecherries are abundant for your picking pleasure. Chokecherries, part of the stone fruit family (like plums and cherries), are plentiful in South Algonquin and grow wild around the township.They’re way too bitter to eat raw, but make the most wonderful jelly and fruit leather.
Hunting. Through October and November you can access hunting trails around South Algonquin. Prepare to settle yourselves in for a peaceful wait for game in these quiet woods teeming with wildlife.
On behalf of the South Algonquin Business Alliance (SABA), we can’t wait to welcome you to our beautiful community to enjoy the seasons with us!
Keep up to date with our website as we’ll be highlighting new events and activities in the new year.