Algonquin Park: Western Uplands Backpacking Trail Campsite Review

In 2008 and 2009, I went camping in the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail in Algonquin Park. This is short review of the campsites, trails, and miscellaneous events related to this experience.

2008, Labour Day Long Weekend

Day 1: Trail to Romana Lake. Weather: Heavy rain for duration of hike. Temperature: Mild- very humid. Trail conditions: Muddy, wet, flooded.

Roman Lake Campsite: Poor water access; small lake; plenty of firewood on-site. Overall, not too terribly interesting.

Romana Lake

Romana Lake

Day 2: Trail to Little Hardy Lake. Approximately 13-14 km from Romana. Weather: Overcast, cool. Trail conditions: Mostly dry, very hilly at points. Water access: poor.

Little Hardy Lake Campsite: Excellent water access; fair sized lake; one campsite on lake; secluded; sparse firewood on-site. Overall, an excellent campsite.

Little Hardy Lake

Little Hardy Lake

Day 3: Trail to trail-head. Weather: Sunny. Temperature: Warm. Trail conditions: Mostly dry, and few major hills.

Conclusion: Overall, despite the horrible weather conditions on the first day, the trails dry up quickly enough, and Little Hardy Lake is certainly worth a stay. I would not however, stay at Romana Lake again if I had a choice. Be sure to check the weather, but don’t rely too much on it. Weather can change quickly and drastically.

2009, Civic Day Long Weekend

Day 1: Trail to Maggie Lake. Approximately 13 km from the trail-head. Weather: Overcast (though forecasted for a 60% chance of rain, it only rained for 15 minutes in camp). Temperature: Warm, humid, and windy. Trail conditions: Muddy in spots from a week of rain, though dry on the hills. Water access is reasonable.

Maggie Lake Campsite, East Side: Excellent water access; large lake; 2 campsites at our location (one was incredibly neglected with garbage); very soft ground; small sandy beach; mostly secluded; little access to campfire wood. Overall, it was a decent little campsite.

Lonely trees on an island on Maggie Lake.

Lonely trees on an island on Maggie Lake.

Day 2: Trail to Maple Leaf Lake. Approximately 7-8 km from Maggie Lake. Weather: Overcast, turning sunny (though originally forecasted for 40% change of showers), and windy; Temperature: Cool in the morning, warm afternoon; Trail conditions: Mostly dry, with some large mud patches. Hilly up until Steep Rise Lake, and then mostly downhill. Water access is reasonable.

Maple Leaf Lake, South side. Fantastic water access; large lake; secluded; very pretty; terrific swimming; moderate access to campfire wood, but excellent wood. Overall, this site was absolutely fantastic. It was one of those places that you really would like to return to if you have the chance.

Maple Leaf Lake

Maple Leaf Lake

Day 3: Trail to Trailhead: Approximately 4 km from Maple Leaf Lake. Weather: Overcast with sunny periods (though forecasted to shower originally); Trail conditions: Mostly dry with only a couple of steep spots. A quick 1.5 hour hike.

Conclusion: Despite the people playing music until 1 am on Maggie Lake, this was a very nice trip. The weather held out, and the forecast changed in our favour. Maple Leaf Lake was fantastic. Though the trails leading in and out are a little unkempt. The line up to get our permit was a little lengthy, and the parking at the trailhead was a little crowded with some idiots taking up more then their fair share. I would suggest you get arrive as early as possible to avoid lines, get good parking, and get a good campsite.

Pack for the weather, but don’t trust or worry about the forecast. You can’t do anything about it once you’re out there. Just try to enjoy your trip and everything the park has to offer.

Ivan

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