An Algonquin Wilderness – The Kirkwood Loop

It’s the Canada Day long weekend, and time for a second visit to Algonquin Provincial Park this summer – but unlike the front-country camping of the previous trip, this time around would be a challenging wilderness trip that the park is so famous for. There’s no better way to celebrate the nation’s birthday with a few nights in the backcountry!

The Kirkwood Loop. Blue=Origin, Green=Camp, Red=Portage.

Similar to the Sunbeam Loop we did a few years ago, the Kirkwood loop is a canoe route that involves traversing numerous lakes and portages, but this time south of the Highway 60 corridor. In fact, over the four days my camping buddies Jeff and Emily and I would be crossing some 13 lakes (and 14 portages) before returning to the our point of origin. This at the peak of the most intense mosquito season I’ve experienced so far – the bugs were absolutely relentless!

From Smoke to Ragged, Big Porcupine and Kirkwood

Launching at Smoke Lake, we head south to Ragged Lake where we find a suitable campsite to stop for the night. The next morning we continue south to cross Big Porcupine before heading east across Bonnechere and Phipps lakes before camping on a lovely site on Kirkwood Lake. A lake breeze made all the difference in keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Here we also experienced the only wet weather of the weekend when a storm front moved in during the evening.

Harness, Head, and Cache Lakes

On day three, we were northbound through Pardee and Harness lakes before camping on Head Lake, and the probably best site of the trip – a nice tall outcrop of rock surrounded by water on three sides, perfect for swimming and stargazing. The beauty and solitude of this location was simply stunning, making it the high point of the weekend. The last day we continued north through Cache Lake (including a lengthly 1640m portage) and westwards via four more portages before returning to the Smoke Lake access point.

Location Map and Route

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