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Moose spotting in Algonquin Park

Autumn is said to be the best season to visit Canada’s Parks: no crowds, plenty of wildlife and lots of spectacular viewing points to witness the country’s vibrant fall colors. Algonquin Park in Ontario ticks all of these boxes – and sometimes an additional one: rain. Fortunately though, Canada’s nature is impeccably beautiful, even when wearing a sodden raincoat.

Algonquin Park was the first of 110 parks in the province of Ontario to be named Provincial Park. It’s in the top five of biggest parks in Ontario and definitely one of the more popular ones. It stretches out over 7,653 square kilometres (2,955 square miles) but has only one tarmac road: the Highway 60, near the south end. The curvy road takes you from the West Gate to the East Gate (56 km) and covers only a minor fraction of the entire Algonquin Park, but it’s a starting point for dozens of walking trails and other activities. You can easily spend a week here, hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking etc. There are kilometer markers at one-kilometer intervals so it’s very easy to locate all walks and facilities, especially if you’re only here for a day, like us…

I moose say…

As we’re hunting for a lunch spot back on the Highway 60, something catches our eye: moose! Whenever you see a line of cars chaotically parked along both sides of the highway: hit the breaks and park there yourself, because it always means there is something to see. All camera’s were pointed at a mother and baby moose, grazing at a seemingly relaxed pace. A pretty sight but you don’t want to get too close though. Apparently a moose cow will do anything to protect her calf… Interesting fact: when a bear attacks you, you’re supposed to play dead. When a moose charges, it’s much safer to run away. The animal just wants to scare you off most of the time so if you run away, it won’t chase you very far.

Picking a walking trail

Fifteen walks have their starting point along the Highway 60. We pick the Centennial Ridges walk for two reasons: 1) the high chances of seeing wildlife according to the Park brochure and 2) the scenic lookouts. We’re especially keen on seeing the different colors of the maple leaves from high up…

The walking trail immediately challenges our stiff and untrained muscles and as soon as we get to the first lookout, it becomes clear that we’re too early for the famous autumn leaf colors: a few treetops are colorful all right, but it’s not quite the spectacle we had hoped for. Minutes after that realization, it starts pouring rain. Our goal for the rest of the 11 km walk is to make sure our camera’s aren’t getting soaked. The slippery trail looks a lot less attractive in the rain, but the views are still magnificent.

A wild duck is still wildlife…

You should know that Algonquin is home to over 40 mammals, 30 kinds of reptiles and amphibians and more than 130 breeding birds. We were looking forward to seeing moose, raccoons, beavers and maybe even wolves and brown bears during the walk, but all we really saw during those 4 hours of hiking, was a duck. Sitting still. In the distance. So it might have been a dead duck. But, ironically enough, as soon as we hit the road again and return to the Highway 60, there they are: mother moose and her child. Right after we just walked 11 km deep into the forests of Algonquin to spot wildlife… We found out later on that we’re not the only ones with this experience. More wildlife is seen along Highway 60 than in all of the Park’s backcountry. And yes, especially moose (there are about 3.400 in the park) like to make an appearance right next to the highway. It has something to do with the high concentrations of salt that are present in the grounds and water pools along the road – leftovers from the winter highway maintenance. The salt attracts moose and the moose attract tourists. There’s even a name for the occasional rows of cars randomly parked on the side of the highway, sometimes blocking the rest of the traffic: a moose-jam!


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Hi there! I’m Belgian, I’m a freelance journalist, I made my first real trip abroad when I was 8 (as a member of a folk dancing group) and I have been traveling ever since. Here are my stories, videos and pictures!

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