Numerous articles have made headlines about the traffic conditions along Highway 60 through Algonquin Park in recent years, but I’ll let you in on the secret to avoiding them… GO EARLY. I’ll usually start my day trip to Algonquin with a 5am alarm. By the time I’ve had a coffee and leave Gravenhurst it’s 5:30am, and I can roll into Fisherman’s Point at KM14 just in time for sunrise.
One or two other photographers will usually be there, but we all work together to stay out of each others shots.
The peak sunrise photo opportunity is gone, but I hang around a bit longer in the golden light and it pays off. The distant roar of a plane engine, and I see the Ministry of Natural Resources De Havilland float plane (C-FOEU) taxi across Smoke Lake for an early morning flight.
Back in the car and driving across Highway 60, I come across a number of cars pulled over to the side of the road. This time of year, that can only mean one thing – moose. Everyone sticks to the shoulder of the road and give the moose plenty of space. Having only planned to shoot landscapes, the longest lens in my bag is a 70-200mm f/2.8. Fortunately I want to bring in a bit of the fall colour into the composition and only needed 155 of those mm’s. The bull and calf would give us a solid 10 minutes before venturing off into the forest.
By 8:30am, I find a secluded parking lot further into the park and decide to send up the Phantom 3 for a few aerials. It can be tough to picture the sheer scale of the park without getting above the trees and this new perspective gives me some great looks at the fall colour. Unfortunately, the east side of the park isn’t quite at peak colour yet.
After recharging with a coffee, it’s 10:30am and time to hit the trail. I decided on Track and Tower Trail, as the rock overlook provides a stunning view of the park, and there are plenty of locations bound to have fall colour along the way.
After three hours on the trail, it’s now 1:30pm and the trail heads and Highway 60 are packed. Time to cut loose and get outta doge. I make a quick stop at the Taylor Statten Camps, my clients and private property which give me an excuse to get away from the crowds. I pass a full parking lot at the West Gate Visitor Centre with a few cars waiting to turn in. It’s not the 200+ car lineups of previous years, but I’ll stick with the solitude provided by a 5am wakeup.
By 4pm I’m back at the cottage, with a growler full of Muskoka Brewery‘s Mad Tom and a few steaks to toss on the BBQ. Another successful mission to the park, lines avoided entirely.