When one decides to go hiking in Southern Ontario, you can safely assume that the trails are dried out and ready for a great weekend hike by the beginning of May. The snow is all gone by the end of March and the trail then have the month of April to adjust to Spring before the dedicated hikers set out for their first hiking expedition of the new year. The hikers are eager to trek on their long established favourite routes, and also to discover new trails.
Hiking as a Girl Guide
The trails in Algonquin Provincial Park are not always ready in May, as I clearly remember one year hiking as a 19 year old with my Girl Guide Ranger unit. We decided to go hiking on the Highland Backpacking Trail, made travel arrangements, and were fully prepared with equipment, food and appropriate clothing. When we got through the West Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park and proceeded to the entrance of the backpacking trail, our hearts sank. There was easily two feet of snow on the trail.
We looked at our map of Algonquin Park and decided to modify our hike completely. The Fen Lake Cross Country Ski Trail was nearby; we had already driven by it because the entrance is right at the West Gate. We drove back to the ski trail, and much to our delight, the ski trail was a great alternative. The snow was packed down so it was easy on which to go hiking. The distance we covered was not as long as we had planned; the backpacking loop was 19 km and the ski trail was only 13 km. We didn’t mind too much, as it meant that we could sleep in a little bit on Sunday morning.
This particular hike turned out to be a lot of fun. I took some great photos of a frozen waterfall and we even built a snowman before dinner on Saturday. We had a great overnight hike and learned how to adapt to the unexpected trail covering. Snow is not as easy on which to hike as the forest floor, but it made this hiking expedition one that I remember as unique, challenging and a lot of fun. When it came time to plan a hike after that one, I always researched snow fall levels and trail conditions ahead of time.