Autumn leaves in Algonquin Park

Fall has arrived and Ontario’s leaves are going gangbusters with the colour. Bec, Alastair, Julian and I took a drive (well, Julian drove) up to Algonquin Park. Bec sent messages during the week saying how the leaf metre was at its peak, and Saturday was set to be about 26 and sunny.

We left Toronto at 7am, sadly leaving Glen behind as he had to work. The drive up went by pretty quickly and we could already see trees whose leaves had changed colour. The contrast was stunning with a gorgeous display of red, orange, yellow and green. Mist lay heavy as we drove north, giving the whole place a moors feel.

We stopped at Henrietta’s bakery on the way, after Bec and Alastair recommended the apple strudels. From the number of cars outside, it seemed we weren’t the only ones who were after Henrietta’s strudel. There was a long queue inside, which we joined. We each bought something, including the much talked about strudel and some savoury things. We ate some of what we bought outside, Julian giving the strudel an enthusiastic review. I saved mine for later.

Soon we were entering Algonquin Park, got our permit, and headed about 38km in to the Centennial Ridges hike. Bec and Alastair had done it before, recommending it for its views from the different ridges. It’s a 10km loop, with a recommended walking time of 6 hours. I don’t mind saying I was apprehensive about going on such a long walk but they assured me it wouldn’t take that long. But after seeing the colour of the leaves on the way in, my interest outweighed my worries.

The walk was pretty easy. There were a few uphill bits but nothing too steep. We were rewarded with some amazing views, and every time we got a glimpse across the park our jaws would drop and we’d exclaim how spectacular the view was. I’ll leave out going on and on about how beautiful it all was (and how truly unreal it seemed – like something out of a postcard) and let you see for yourself in the pictures below. Just know that it was a billion times more beautiful.

Sadly, we didn’t see any moose. We didn’t see any bears either. We may or may not have seen two beavers swimming in a lake. Someone pointed out where they’d been and I may have seen two heads bobbing around on the far side, but can’t actually say I’ve definitively seen a beaver. Le sigh.

We also saw a garter snake next to the path soon after setting off. It was pretty nifty, a short, very slender snake. We also saw chipmunks and squirrels.

We stopped about halfway and had lunch at some rocks. The walk back was harder going, especially as our water had run out and we were sweaty. We arrived back at the car park at about 4pm, so the whole thing had only taken four hours (as Bec and Alastair had said).

We left Algonquin Park in the beautiful late afternoon light so the trees were bursting with colour. We were all quite worn out on the drive home, but managed to find the energy to stop off for Japanese at Fukui Sushi at Bayview and Eglinton.

The only downside to today was that Glen couldn’t be there with us. I think he would have loved it and stopped every couple of metres to take a photo of a leaf or a rock or a leaf on a rock. I brought back a bouquet of coloured leaves as a small consolation prize. We might have to find some time to take a drive ourselves.

(PS In most cases with the photos, I’ve barely enhanced any of the colours. It really was that vibrant out there.)

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