Winter in Algonquin 2016
In all the years that we have been regularly coming to Algonquin during the winter, we experienced a wider variety of weather on our 3 visits in 2016 than all the previous years combined. This year we faced our warmest day, the wettest day, the coldest day and the most snowfall.
January was ideal weather and we spent much of our time cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In February we decide to camp in our tent and our weekend consisted of freezing rain at night and pouring rain during the day with a high of 6°c.
On our recent visit, we arrived in the park on Wednesday, March 2, to a beautiful Winter Wonderland. It had just snowed, dumping 30cm of the fluffy white stuff on a ground cover of already 55cm. There was over 80cm of snow on the ground when we arrived. Wednesday night the thermometer dipped and we woke up to a morning of minus 36°c with a “feels like” of minus 46°c. It was so cold, our eyelashes were freezing. The weather remained quite cool for the first few days, but warmed up significantly by the weekend.
The snowstorm had caused a few issues in the park and it took a couple of days before the parking lots and side turnoffs were all ploughed. The roads were good, but narrow. However, the park offered some outstanding winter landscape vistas for those who ventured out. Snowshoes were the preferred method of travel for the first few days of our trip as many trails had to be travelled for the first time since the storm.
Snow Laden Pine Trees Photo by Kathy deGroot
We stayed in a yurt for 4 nights so it wasn’t exactly roughing it. But, the first two nights of -36°c and -33°c, the temperature in the yurt did not get too far into double digits and opening the door for any reason would cause an inflow of Arctic air that often dropped the inside temperature to about 3.5°c!
On Wednesday and Thursday we toured the park and took in all the beauty of the freshly fallen snow. Even walking around the campground provided some amazing scenery. We had a great time hanging out with friends and enjoying the campground wildlife. On Friday and Saturday, the weather was amazing. We spent most of the days snowshoeing the Track & Tower Trail and the Old Rail Trail and the evenings, taking in the warmth of a wintertime campfire.
Mew Lake had its usual wildlife with Blue Jays dominating the birdfeeders. Chickadees, American Crows, Purple Finches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos and Evening Grosbeaks were also around the campground. The Red Squirrels and Pine Martens were as cute as ever but the Red Fox was way too bold! While venturing around the park, we saw more of the same, but also Redpolls, Pine Siskens, Pine Grosbeaks, Gray Jays and a lone Wild Turkey.
New Snow Under Blue Skies Photo by Tony deGroot
Our favourite sighting happened on our last evening. We set our lawn chairs out on the frozen Mew Lake to enjoy the sunset. In front of the pink clouds, an overhead cloud was dropping large flakes of slowly falling snow all around us. Then, out in the lake, a River Otter popped out of the ice and entertained us with its catch of the day. It was an unforgettable moment.
With trips like these, we are beginning to feel that our favourite season to visit Algonquin Park may actual be the Winter.
Blue Jay on a Cross Country Ski Photo by Kathy deGroot
Frozen Madawaska River Photo by Tony deGroot
First Spring Migrants in the Park, American Crow Photo by Kathy deGroot