Algonquin Park – Cedar Lake

The plan was to car-camp at Driftwood Provincial Park on Friday night and continue onto Algonquin on Saturday morning. Putting in on Cedar Lake and finding a nice campsite to use as a basecamp and then doing a couple of day trips. Well, thanks to some overtime at work, the car-camping plan was scrapped. This was actually a blessing in disguise as the area was hit with a pretty hard with a storm – which included a tornado watch.

We pushed off mid Saturday afternoon from access point 27 (Cedar Lake), the water looked pretty calm so, I told Margarita that we were going to go across the lake to the adjacent shore and follow the shoreline to one of the islands sites. We exited the bay and instantly we were instantly hammered with huge waves with whitecaps and strong wind gusts. I don’t think I’ve ever paddled in conditions like this – it was extremely nerve-wracking.

By the time I had a chance to think about turning around and heading back towards the shore, it was to late. Our only option was to go with the waves and eventually reach the other shore.  We finally crossed the lake and paddled into a small bay where the waters were much calmer. After clearing the bay, we came to an island. Since we just wanted to get off the water, we decided that this would be our camp for the night.

What a nice two-tier site. The lower level had a fire pit, lots of space for our tent and logs that looked like stools, but the strong wind blew right through.  The upper level had another fire pit and a large rock wall that blocked a lot of the wind, but it didn’t have any space for a tent. We pitched our tent on the first side and used the second fire pit – it had a nice view of the lake and at night, we had a great view of the moon.

On Sunday morning we decided that our island site was just to windy. So, after an easy breakfast of toasted bagels and peanut butter and a discussion of how this will be our last trip drinking instant coffee, we loaded up our stuff and continued paddling around Cedar Lake. Since the water away from the shore was still quite rough, we decided to continue to follow the shoreline. We headed south along the west shore of the lake to Bonanza Bay – a provincially significant marsh and deciduous swamp forest.

We rounded the most southern end of the lake and began heading north. After a short lunch on a small island, we continued and came to the Cedar Rapids. Our original plan was to take our canoe over the portage and check out the Surprise Rapids but we were behind schedule so we just hiked across the short 960m portage and came back.

Finally, we came to the most eastern point of Cedar Lake – where we found the perfect campsite. It was a beautiful sandy beach with a firepit only feet from the water’s edge.

After pitching our tent right on the beach, we swam and then lit our campfire. It was awesome, with all the driftwood, we had an endless supply of firewood. Unfortunately, we were tired that night so we climbed into the tent just after the sunset – and what a sunset it was. The whole sky was a beautiful shade of red. It seemed to last forever. 

As the saying goes, “Red sky at night…”

We woke just praying that we wouldn’t have to battle the waves all the way back to the parking lot. And our prayers were answered, the water was calm – just a few ripples.

After a healthy breakfast of bacon and eggs, we kicked a few canoe spiders to the curb, loaded our gear into the canoe and started heading back to the access point.

Since we were almost right at the most eastern point of the lake, we just crossed to the north shore and headed west. We passed a few other nice looking sandy beach sites. In no time we were almost back. Perfect! We had lots of time to cross the lake and check out part of the Petawawa River Falls (two sets of waterfalls that combine to be the tallest in Algonquin Park).

We followed the 715m portage along the falls/rapids and WHAT A VIEW!

We got back to the parking lot and off the water just as the clouds rolled in. We could hear thunder off in the distance. On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Algonquin Outfitters (where we overheard that there have been bear sightings at the furthest campsite on Cedar Lake – our beach site!!! We left and went to the Brent Crater lookout. It’s hard to believe that we were looking at the crater made by a meteor that hit nearly 400 million years ago.

Just after we got back into our car, the skies opened up and it began to pour. So much for stopping off at Driftwood for a swim. Oh well.

All in all, this was an interesting trip. We enjoyed some great views, we loved both of our campsites and we enjoyed each other’s company. We will definitely be back – only next time, I’ll be smarter and I’ll stick close to shore…getting caught in the waves was rather scary.

One final note, the trip kind of had an eerily feel, with the exception of a few seagulls and a lonely loon, we didn’t see or hear any wildlife, including bugs.